Jonathan Kuminga is set to enter a pivotal third season with the Golden State Warriors, one that could very well shape his destiny as a player in the NBA.
Taken with the seventh overall pick in 2021, Kuminga’s talent is undeniable as has shone at times over his opening two seasons. At the same time, Golden State’s championship aspirations haven’t afforded the 20-year-old with the same consistent playing time that other top 10 picks usually receive.
Regardless of which direction they take, the Golden State Warriors have been urged to make a decisive decision on young forward Jonathan Kuminga.
In a recent article outlining ‘1 Risk Every NBA Team Should Take This Season’, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report has encouraged the Warriors to either find 25+ minutes per game for Kuminga, or trade him to a rival team.
"“But a small bump isn’t enough. Kuminga needs his sink-or-swim opportunity in Golden State or elsewhere. If that can’t mesh with the club’s championship plans, then it’s time to flip the 20-year-old for someone who better aligns with this core’s timeline”, Buckley wrote."
Moving Kuminga right now would be an undoubted risk, particularly given his value has softened somewhat after a postseason in which he was axed from Steve Kerr’s rotation. Talk of an offseason trade was prominent in June around draft time, but that’s dissipated since with the franchise appearing keen to explore what Kuminga can become for them.
Still, the start to the season will be crucial for both player and franchise, with Buckley’s assessment right on the mark. While providing him 25+ minutes per game may seem like a risk right now, it’s easy to forget that he averaged 23 minutes across 34 games from the beginning of January to the end of the regular season.
Kuminga recorded a negative plus-minus across the 2022-23 campaign, but that only emanated from a poor start where Golden State’s rotation, particularly their second-unit, was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
From the New Year onwards Kuminga was a productive two-way player who contributed to winning basketball, making his omission from the playoff rotation only more frustrating for himself and many Warrior fans.
Buckley’s statement isn’t so much a risk but rather the reality that needs to play out one way or the other. Limiting Kuminga to less than at least 22-24 minutes is simply stalling his development and simultaneously reduces his value to a point where the potential return won’t be impactful regardless.