“He’s earned some minutes” – Kerr set to unleash explosive Warriors forward

Exciting second-year forward Jonathan Kuminga has been stapled to the Golden State Warriors bench by head coach Steve Kerr, but that might be about to change as the franchise seeks to turnaround their disappointing 3-7 start to the season.

Heading into Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Kuminga had logged three DNPCD’s (Did not play – coach’s decision), three games of eight minutes or less, and three games between 13 and 19 minutes.

But with four starters rested on the second night of a back-to-back, Kuminga was pulled from the doldrums and into a starting role. Not only that, he played a game-high 38 minutes, recording 18 points, four rebounds and two steals on 7-for-12 shooting.

Head coach Steve Kerr has confirmed Jonathan Kuminga will get increased opportunity over the next phase of the Golden State Warriors season.

Kerr acknowledged Kuminga “played really well”, also mentioning Ty Jerome, Anthony Lamb and Moses Moody as the Warriors better players in the nine-point loss.

One thing is for sure, the 20-year-old doesn’t lack confidence even after a stretch of little to no opportunity. At one point in the his post-match press conference, Kuminga was asked what areas he struggled with against the Pelicans.

“I wouldn’t say I struggled with anything. Growing up, to here, I feel like I’ve been working hard every single day to make sure I build up everything in my game, even if it’s not perfect. Just knowing that I’m capable of doing pretty much everything on the floor, I’m just going to keep building on it”, Kuminga said.

It’s this mindset that will ultimately make-or-break Kuminga’s career — one that could develop into an All-Star level player, or conversely someone who never fulfills his talent and becomes no more than a bench player.

He does, however, have impressive offensive talent that goes beyond his impressive athleticism. He had a couple of nice drives to the rim from the perimeter against New Orleans, showed soft touch on a couple of mid-range pull up jumpshots, and his ball fakes and smart footwork already make him the best free-throw drawer on the entire Warriors roster.

It’s that last facet that should make him a cinch to return to the rotation, with the Warriors’ free-throw differential proving the difference in multiple games through the short season to date. The next question is who falls out of the rotation if Kuminga comes in? Veteran JaMychal Green has been underwhelming over the past couple of games, while James Wiseman may feel the effects of Kuminga’s presence.

After some early experimenting in the first two games of the season, Kerr quickly found out that having Kuminga and Wiseman — two young project players — on the floor at the same time, was never going to prove effective. Therefore, it’s only natural that Wiseman may lose minutes even if Kuminga isn’t a center by any stretch.

A second-year player isn’t going to magically catapult the Warriors back to winning ways, but at least Kuminga will provide Warriors fans with excitement and a fascinating aspect to watch after a hard-to-watch road trip.