Friday, June 2 2023

What Kerr wants to see from Kuminga going forward in playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SACRAMENTO — Throughout the last two months, a handful of Warriors had to step up with Andrew Wiggins away from the team while dealing with a family matter. Not one single player could replace what the All-Star forward provides. The one player who might have filled Wiggins’ role the most is Jonathan Kuminga.

From Feb. 14 through April 9, Kuminga averaged 24.1 minutes over a 22-game stretch, including eight starts. He put up 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 56.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent on 3-pointers.

But Kuminga also might have been affected most by Wiggins’ return to the Warriors in Golden State‘s Game 1 loss Saturday night to the Sacramento Kings to begin the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Kuminga played 9:45 overall, the fewest minutes of the four Warriors who came off the bench.

He played a little under four minutes in the first half and a little under six in the second, putting together an uneven performance where the 20-year-old looked out of sorts at times.

“Yeah, he did some good things,” Steve Kerr said Sunday, one day after the Warriors’ loss. “Jonathan gives us another athletic defender to put on the point of attack, whether it’s [De’Aaron] Fox or [Malik] Monk. We can utilize him in a number of ways.”

Kuminga scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting in the loss. He clanked both of his 3-point attempts and also had two turnovers. His minus-9 box plus/minus was the worst of all Warriors.

But Kerr made it clear what area he wants to see improvements most from Kuminga. The second-year pro isn’t alone here. Kerr and multiple Warriors made it clear what they believe was their biggest issue in Saturday night’s loss: Rebounding.

The Warriors were outrebounded 50-41. What made matters worse was when the discrepancy was most noticeable. The Kings grabbed 27 rebounds in the second half, and the Warriors came away with only 16. Sacramento secured five more rebounds than Golden State in the fourth quarter.

“I’d like to see him rebound,” Kerr said. “He didn’t have a rebound last night, and that’s got to be a focal point for him — and for our whole team. We keep talking about everything, but it still comes back to rebounds. But I thought JK did a really nice job in a lot of ways, and he can get better.”

Though he’s listed as a forward and stands 6-foot-8, Kuminga’s speed and athleticism allow him to guard nearly every position. Much of the time, he’s a point-of-attack defender, which also could hurt his rebounding totals.

However, Gary Payton II also is a game-changing point-of-attack defender and came down with four rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. After missing more than six weeks while recovering from a core muscle/adductor injury, Payton, who is generously listed at 6-foot-3, played the final seven regular-season games for the Warriors. He averaged 16 minutes off the bench and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Kuminga played 20.8 minutes a night this season for the Warriors and averaged 3.4 rebounds. There were eight regular-season games where Kuminga was given playing time and didn’t have a single rebound.

“He’s just a very young player,” Kerr said of Kuminga. “He’s still learning as he goes. There’s stuff on tape where we’ll point out certain things to him. He’s had a really good year for us. He’s gotten dramatically better over the course of the season, so the process stays the same.

“We’ll show film and show him areas where he can get better and he’ll continue to work.”

The rebounding as a whole frustrated all within the Warriors. Sacramento’s 17 offensive rebounds is what angered the Warriors the most. The Kings ranked 23rd in the NBA in the regular season averaging 9.5 offensive rebounds per game.

The Warriors ranked 14th with 10.5 offensive rebounds per game. Going into Game 2, that’s something they know they must clean up, and Kuminga certainly can help.

“We just got to get back,” Payton said of the Kings having eight more offensive rebounds than them, and four more second-chance points. “Better yet, hit first. Just make sure when the shot goes up, we find guys who’s crashing and we just make it an emphasis.”

RELATED: Will Steph’s rotations change after Game 1 loss to Kings?

Over four regular-season games against the Kings, Kuminga totaled one rebound. He played his fewest minutes Saturday night since Nov. 20, and it’s clear how he can see the court more.

Rotations are tightened in the playoffs. The addition of Wiggins adds a new element, too. No matter who suits up, though, Kuminga can hold the key to being the Warriors’ biggest X-factor and he and the rest of his teammates will look to bounce back on the boards beginning Monday night.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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