Golden State Warriors: Kerr's postgame acknowledgement makes controversial decision even stranger

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors
Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

In a recent interview with The Athletic's Marcus Thompson, Jonathan Kuminga acknowledged that he's often confused at times where he's pulled off the floor by head coach Steve Kerr. Well, that confusion may have led to even greater bewilderment when the third-year forward was benched over the final 18 minutes of the Golden State Warriors' almighty collapse against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

The Warriors led by 18 with less than seven minutes to play against the reigning champions, only to fall in a heap and give up a 25-4 run to close. Kerr made seven lineup changes in the last 3:41 in an attempt to stem the tied, yet none of them included Kuminga who had impressed in the first two-and-a-half quarters.

Steve Kerr's postgame acknowledgment makes his decision not to go back to Jonathan Kuminga an even stranger choice

Kuminga had seven points, three rebounds and three assists in a positive first stretch where Golden State had built a brief double-digit lead. By halfway through the third-quarter, the former seventh overall pick had tallied 16 points, four rebounds and four assists on 5-of-7 shooting.

The 21-year-old's last contribution was an and-1 layup after taking advantage of a mismatch against Jamal Murray. It was crucially the Nuggets' star's fourth foul, and it was also Kuminga's seventh free-throw attempt in a night the Warriors lost that battle by 13.

By the end of the game, Kuminga was a stunned onlooker like everybody else. Except he shouldn't have been. His 19 minutes were very good, as was his 19-point, six-rebound, four-assist performance against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.

Kuminga played a season-high 34 minutes during the meeting with the Magic, making his late-game benching on Thursday even more bizarre. Was it his defense? Something else? Fans needed clarity.

Asked about his decision in the postgame, Kerr acknowledged Kuminga "was playing great" and instead pointed to the circumstances of the game as the reason why he didn't re-enter.

""He was playing great and his normal time to go back in would have been around the five, six-minute mark," Kerr said. "Wiggs was playing great and we were rolling, we were up 18-19 and so we just stayed with him. Then at that point it didn't feel like it was the right thing to do, he'd been sitting for a while.""

Those comments may make the situation even more frustrating -- there's no reason for an in-form Kuminga not to be playing at least 20 minutes, let alone the fact they could have done with his impact on both ends of the floor over the final stages.

Between Kuminga's benching and another DNP for Moses Moody, Kerr's handling of the 2021 lottery picks took another turn towards disappointment on Thursday night.