Warriors get complete Jonathan Kuminga experience in win over Heat – NBC Sports Bay Area

Warriors get complete Jonathan Kuminga experience in win over Heat – NBC Sports Bay Area
Uncategorized

Draped in a Belenciaga tee and with enough style from his feet to his shades, Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga was ready to put on a show Wednesday night in Miami. 

He didn’t disappoint. 

Kuminga was given a spot start in place of Draymond Green, who was just one of many key players out for Golden State, and the 19-year-old looked like the Warriors’ best player on the floor for stretches. Really, that was true for both sides as the undermanned Warriors took down the Eastern Conference’s top seed with a 118-104 win over the Heat

“He’s nice,” Andrew Wiggins said after the win. “Man, he’s nice. His growth this year is amazing. It’s been fast. He’s been soaking everything in and yeah, he has great vets, great coaches, great teammates out there that will put him in position to be successful.

“He’s a kid that wants to learn and wants to get better. And every game he’s getting better. He’s doing things that we never see him do, and he’s just doing it. He’s talented. Sky is the limit for him.” 

The rookie gave the Warriors their first points of the night, and right away it was clear what kind of night it could be for him. Kuminga for the second straight game displayed much better ballhandling skills and a hesitation move that can get his defender to rest for just a split second before driving by him. To start of the Warriors’ win against the Heat, he did so while attacking one of the best defenders in basketball. 

 

Kuminga took Bam Adebayo, a two-time All-Defensive honoree with more to come, off the dribble with his left hand and finished with his right to get Golden State on the scoreboard. 

Through the first quarter, Kuminga scored six points as he was finding his rhythm. In the second quarter, he really started to heat up. He went 3-for-5 from the field, was fouled twice, scored eight points and was a plus-5 in just under eight minutes, all while showing off his star potential. 

With a little over seven minutes remaining in the first half, Kuminga caught a missed 3-point attempt that hit nothing but his hands, went coast-to-coast and again used that hesitation move with his left hand to get past his defender and lay in two more points. 

For how electrifying of an athlete and as a dunker Kuminga already is, he had perhaps his most impressive moment of the season later in the second quarter. 

Duncan Robinson never had a chance. But that fadeaway jumper? Now that’s something new from the always-improving teenager. 

The moment Kuminga saw Robinson, it was a parting of seas in Miami. There was only one thing that Kuminga was going to do and it wasn’t pass the ball. He was under control, got to his spot and didn’t hesitate one bit one a move he constantly has been working on behind the scenes. 

“I’ll say mostly postups,” Kuminga said when asked about the area he has improved the most throughout the season. “I feel like whenever I’m out there, I get whatever I want to. And setting screens and diving to the rim, that’s where I pretty much think I got better.”

That’s spoken like a rookie who is becoming better and better, and one who knows he can be an absolute superstar.

“Jonathan’s been great,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “The growth has been continuous all year. From the beginning of the season ’til now, it’s just dramatic how much better he is. He’s so gifted, so explosive. The game is slowing down for him a little bit. When he’s down on the post you can see it, he’s more patient.

“Like a lot of rookies, early in the season he was going too fast. He’s really come a long way quickly, and he’s really playing at a high level.” 

By halftime, Kuminga was leading the Warriors with 14 points. That was behind only six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler’s 15 points. 

The Warriors and Heat were tied 50-50 at the half before Golden State came out of the gates and went on a 19-0 run through the first four-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter. Kuminga was on the floor the whole time. Well, until he committed his second foul of the frame and fourth of the game. He didn’t play again in the third quarter, the Heat outscored the Warriors by 18 points and the Dubs then led by only one point leading into the fourth. 

 

Kuminga scored six points in just six minutes and 25 seconds in the fourth quarter. But he fouled out at the 5:35 mark. He was a career-high plus-26 at the time and scored 22 points in 30 minutes.

“He was in foul trouble most of the game,” Kerr said. “As a rookie, he’s prone to fouling more from some veteran tricks. I thought that was a factor tonight. I thought that was a really crafty team over there. So, he got himself into some positions where he was vulnerable for a foul and those are things that he is going to have to continue learn, and he will.” 

In fairness, Kuminga fouled out on a very questionable call. Kerr rightfully stood up for his rookie but was unsuccessful with his challenge. 

But this was the second straight game where Kuminga found himself in foul trouble, and in this instance, time ran out. In Tuesday’s loss to the Magic, Kuminga scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds and was a plus-7 off the bench. He also was held to just under 20 minutes as he had five fouls. 

Another nitpicky downside to his night was that he went 4-for-8 from the free throw line and made only one of his four attempts in the fourth quarter. Kuminga recently was becoming an ultra-reliable shooter at the line. In his last three games now though, he’s shooting 50 percent on free throws, going 7-for-14.

We’re now having to pick and prod to find flaws in Kuminga’s game, who never was expected to be here at this point in his rookie year. It’s pretty clear the positives outweigh the negatives. 

“Obviously he’s a freak,” Damion Lee said. “He’s physical as hell, he’s one of the most athletic guys in the league. For him, just continuing to know when to attack when he has smaller guys on him — a mismatch. He can dominate. He can help get early fouls, continue to get us in the bonus earlier and earlier. And then just continuing to stay aggressive and knowing where his spots are. 

“He’s what, 18? 19? He has plenty of years to be great. He’s learning day by day what it takes and learning from guys and just soaking up game from all the great vets that we have.” 

RELATED: Wiggins delivers, shows signs of shedding slump vs. Heat

Kuminga’s past the stage of just soaking up knowledge from his vets. That’s still part of the daily routine and isn’t going to stop anytime soon. But he’s now just as important as most of them on the court.

Before fouling out, he recorded his fifth 20-point game as a rookie — the most ever by a teenager in Warriors history. He can’t get into early foul trouble. He has to be reliable at the line or teams will attack him.

The full Jonathan Kuminga experience was on display during a shocking Warriors win in Miami. It sure was fun while it lasted.

 

Download and follow the Dubs Talk Podcast