Golden State Warriors' forward under threat of demotion despite breakout season

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves
Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

Despite an expected return against the Houston Rockets on Thursday, Jonathan Kuminga was again a late scratch for the Golden State Warriors as the third-year forward continues to battle knee tendinitis.

The Warriors continue to fire without the 21-year-old, having demolished the Rockets 133-110 to claim their sixth-straight win -- the last five of which have come with Kuminga on the sidelines.

After a breakout season, Jonathan Kuminga may be pushed back to the bench upon his return to the Golden State Warriors lineup

Golden State are hopeful of Kuminga's return against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, but it's looking more and more unlikely that the 2021 lottery pick will return in his customary starting power-forward role.

Asked about the starting lineup in Thursday's post-game, head coach Steve Kerr appeared to suggest it would be hard to change his current five which includes Draymond Green and Trayce Jackson-Davis as the power-forward-center combination.

"We've established something here. If we're playing well we generally keep the same starting lineup...My philosophy is always if you're playing well, you keep doing the same thing."

Steve Kerr

Jackson-Davis had a career-high 20 points against the Rockets, having shot 8-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line while adding five rebounds and four assists in nearly 28 minutes.

The 24-year-old's insertion to the starting lineup has also breathed new life into Green's defense, with the veteran's impact on that end having been game-changing over recent games. Golden State rank fourth in defense across the league during their current winning-streak.

Kerr also noted Andrew Wiggins' slight ankle concern from Thursday's game, though it's unlikely Kerr would go to a Kuminga-Green-Jackson-Davis frontcourt given the lack of three-point shooting among that trio.

Kuminga has had a breakout season in his third year, having averaged 19.3 points since the start of the New Year while shooting 54.4% from the floor. The athletic forward had made 29 consecutive starts prior to injury, with Kuminga's last game off the bench coming on January 25 against the Sacramento Kings.

Having practically locked up the Western Conference's tenth-seed, the Warriors are still pushing to advance up the standings as they sit 1.5 games behind the ninth-seed Los Angeles Lakers and two games behind the eighth-seed Sacramento Kings.