Stock Soaring: Jonathan Kuminga
Jonathan Kuminga was facing something of a make-or-break season in 2023-24. He has shown incredible flashes during his young career, with dazzling feats of athleticism and surprisingly sound defense. His inconsistent jumpshot and poor rebounding deflated his impact, however, and he often found himself outside of Steve Kerr’s rotation when things mattered most.
Kuminga seems determined to change things this season, and he has been one of the team’s best players thus far. He parlayed a dominant preseason into a hyperactive regular season. He is averaging 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and a steal per game in just 20.5 minutes, and he even closed one game in place of Andrew Wiggins.
He has work to do and needs to continue adding to his game and bringing consistency along with that growth. If he can prove himself reliable night-to-night, the conversation shifts from whether he should play to whether he should close.
Stock Soaring: Gary Payton II
Speaking of closing, Gary Payton II closed out the Warriors’ back-and-forth affair with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. He locked up Kings’ guard Malik Monk, who did get free for one zip to the rim but otherwise was held in check. Payton looks healthy, which is a change from last season and wildly encouraging.
He’s also confident on both ends of the court, letting the ball fly when he catches on the perimeter. He’s hitting 40 percent of his 3-pointers and launching three per game in his 20 minutes, an impressive feat for a player with his reputation as a shooter (i.e. as a poor one). If he’s going to bring elite defense and add on accurate shooting, Kerr won’t be able to keep him off the court.