By any unit of measurement, Jonathan Kuminga’s first-half against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday was far from ideal. The third-year Golden State Warriors forward played nine minutes, made just one of his four field-goal attempts, and had three needless turnovers.
It wasn’t the same Kuminga that had offered so much optimism during preseason — a five-game period where he averaged the second-most points in the league at 21.8. If anything, it was the sort of inconsistent, error-prone play that led to his demotion out of Steve Kerr’s playoff rotation last season.
Jonathan Kuminga’s attitudinal growth was on display in the second-half of the Golden State Warriors’ thrilling 141-139 win on Friday.
Since he begun earning regular rotation minutes last season, you can evidently see Kuminga trying to iron out the mistakes that can plague his game. Often times if he commits a foul or a turnover, that can be followed by a despondent look that reflects his disappointment.
That occurred early in the second-quarter on Friday — he lost the ball under slight pressure on the right wing, and was immediately subbed out by Kerr. Confidence is key for any young player, but it might be especially true for Kuminga.
If this were last season, the former seventh overall pick may have let a poor first-half negatively impact the remainder of his game. In a Warrior offense where decisiveness is crucial, a lack of self-assurance or conviction could prove fatal.
Instead, this more mature version of Kuminga returned to play a pivotal role in Golden State’s fifth-straight win. He had 17 points on 8-11 shooting in just under 13 second-half minutes, and was part of a bench unit that helped stabilize the game when OKC threatened to build a big lead.
The hosts led by seven with less than four minutes to play in the third, having already posted 33 points in the period to that point. With the Thunder shooting the ball at an absurd level, the Warriors needed to match their offensive potency in one way or another.
That’s what Kuminga provided — 11 of his points came in a six-minute period late in the third and early fourth. While Stephen Curry may have provided the ultimate highlight with his game-winning layup, Golden State simply don’t win without Kuminga and the remainder of the bench — something that’s becoming a theme this season.
Although the 21-year-old may not have reached the heights of preseason, there’s still clear growth in his game both from a physical and skillset standpoint, and perhaps most importantly in his confidence and general mindset on the floor.