NBA champion's take on Jonathan Kuminga proves why Warriors may be in big trouble

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies
Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages

Failing a major trade this offseason, the Golden State Warriors best path back to the playoffs next season is more significant individual growth from young forward Jonathan Kuminga.

That's a statement that rings true for many, including former Warrior forward and 2022 NBA champion Juan Toscano-Anderson. Yet it's a perspective that could also prove that the franchise is in major trouble going forward.

Juan Toscano-Anderson's take on Jonathan Kuminga and the Golden State Warriors illustrates a serious issue heading into next season

Joining the 'Sloane Knows' podcast earlier in the week, Toscano-Anderson detailed his belief that another leap and more consistency from Kuminga could catapult Golden State back into the top tier of teams in the league.

"I think if he plays well -- obviously, the other guys are going to do what they're going to do -- but I think if Jonathan Kuminga consistently plays well, I think the Warriors can be a top-five team in the (Western Conference) next year."

Juan Toscano-Anderson

The 'if' in Toscano-Anderson's statement is the cause for potential trouble. Obviously any forecasts on next season are shrouded in 'ifs' and 'buts', but for a franchise who should be prioritizing the remaining prime years of their best ever player in Stephen Curry, they should want a little more certainty than relying on a 21-year-old who ended the season out of the starting lineup.

Of course, Kuminga is immensely talented and his growth over the second half of this season was the biggest positive for the Warriors to take into the offseason. The former seventh overall pick averaged 18.6 points on 54.3% shooting in 43 games from January 1 onwards, with the very real possibility that he develops into a bonafide second star next season.

That prospect carries significant risk though, particularly in the playoffs where Kuminga is still vastly inexperienced. This is exactly why Golden State need to reduce their margin for error by trading for a second star, especially if they can retain Kuminga and his upside as a third option. All of a sudden Draymond Green could become the Warriors' fourth best player, while the franchise may still have the likes of Klay Thompson, Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

For as talented as Kuminga is and as exciting as he was this season, it's difficult to envisage him being the second-best player on a deep playoff team in the next 12 months. Without a trade for a legitimate difference-maker, the Warriors risk another wasted year and a second-straight playoff absence.