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sport / alt.sports.basketball.nba.gs-warriors / ESPN.com: How Jonathan Kuminga formed a bond with Draymond Green [long]

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o ESPN.com: How Jonathan Kuminga formed a bond with Draymond Green [long]Robin Miller

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ESPN.com: How Jonathan Kuminga formed a bond with Draymond Green [long]

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Newsgroups: alt.sports.basketball.nba.gs-warriors
Subject: ESPN.com: How Jonathan Kuminga formed a bond with Draymond Green
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 by: Robin Miller - Tue, 19 Mar 2024 01:26 UTC

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/39755710/golden-state-warriors-draymond-green-jonthan-kuminga-bond

How Jonathan Kuminga formed a bond with Draymond Green: 'You have to
show him that you're ready'

Kendra Andrews, ESPN
Mar 18, 2024, 08:00 AM ET

DRAYMOND GREEN STAYED away from the Golden State Warriors facility
following his second suspension of this season, spending time in his Los
Angeles home while he participated in counseling sessions and virtual
meetings to fulfill his reinstatement obligations.

Green missed 16 games after he struck Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic
in the face in a Dec. 13 loss. During his nearly four weeks away, he
remained in contact with teammates Stephen Curry and Chris Paul and
Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Green received daily texts from his college
coach, Michigan State's Tom Izzo.

But Green, 34, also found himself frequently communicating with teammate
Jonathan Kuminga, the 21-year-old forward starting in his place. Green
sent Kuminga messages after almost every game that he was away, filled
with notes, video clips and voice memos about his performances.

"Him watching the games at home, it was him watching film, pretty much,
and it actually helped me understand who I am," Kuminga told ESPN.

Those conversations between Green and Kuminga have proved invaluable for
a team that will depend on the future Hall of Famer and the young
forward during a postseason push, one that will likely begin in the
Western Conference play-in tournament.

"I wanted to pick up everything he knows," Kuminga said. "With him, he
won't just give [advice] up if you don't compete big-time."

Reaching that point in their communication has had some bumps. Kuminga's
play coming off the bench early in the season was inconsistent, and
Green's on-court antics didn't help.

When Green was first suspended five games for putting a chokehold on
Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert during a Nov. 14 defeat,
Kuminga started in his place the next game, scoring what at that point
was a season-high 21 points in a Nov. 16 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The move wouldn't last. Kuminga returned to a bench role for the next
four contests as Warriors coach Steve Kerr opted to start Paul in
three-guard lineups alongside Curry and Klay Thompson.

Green's subsequent suspension for striking Nurkic just six games after
his return from the Gobert incident proved to be a turning point for the
6-foot-7 Kuminga, who has since solidified a spot in the starting lineup
by averaging 18.4 points during those 16 games without Green.

But the Warriors' defense ranked 28th in the league during that stretch.
The team had a five-game winning streak in mid-December, only to drop
seven of its next 10 games. Upon Green's return on Jan. 15 and with the
team again below .500, Kerr had Green and Kuminga start alongside each
other.

It has helped them develop an effective partnership on the court, with
the team going 17-8 this season when both start. On the offensive side,
Kuminga has shot 73% directly off passes from Green -- the second
highest percentage between two teammates in the league.

They also have the best defensive efficiency of any two players in the
Western Conference to play more than 500 minutes together, according to
Second Spectrum.

The Warriors have not been above ninth place in the West standings since
mid-November, and they are jockeying with the Los Angeles Lakers for the
final two play-in spots. But with less than a month left before the
postseason, the Warriors have begun to rely on the improving connection
between Kuminga and Green.

"You have to show him that you're ready," Kuminga said of Green. "Your
mentality has to be different."

KUMINGA'S RELATIONSHIP WITH Green began even before being selected by
Golden State as the No. 7 pick in the 2021 draft.

"He is one of the reasons I even ended up here," Kuminga said. "Before
they drafted me he called [former Warriors general manager] Bob [Myers]
and told him to bring me here. I think that was one of the greatest
things to have ever happened."

It was Green's former teammate, Jarrett Jack, who first told him to
watch Kuminga. Jack played 13 NBA seasons, including the 2012-13
campaign with the Warriors, and mentored Green as a rookie. "That's my
vet," Green told ESPN.

Jack finished his pro career in 2021 playing with Kuminga on the G
League Ignite team. The biggest knock on Kuminga during the draft
process was he needed more time to develop.

But it didn't matter to Green, who often sits in on the Warriors' draft
meetings and prospects' workouts. He texted Myers and urged him to pick
Kuminga.

"You knew the gift was there," Green said of Kuminga. "He would just
need a few years. And for me, having Jarrett Jack telling me he's good,
that means a lot."

But Kuminga didn't initially take to Green's form of mentorship -- at
least not enough for the longtime vocal leader of the Warriors.

"You get to a place in your career where you've accomplished X, you've
accomplished Y and Z," Green said, "so he should just listen to me. It's
a slap in the face for me, not in a negative way, just like 'Wake up,
you're not listening.'"

Last June, Green sat on his phone in Paris with team owner Joe Lacob on
the other end. Green had just agreed to a new four-year deal, but Lacob
had one more contingency that wouldn't show up in the paperwork.

"Joe said, 'I know you're going to play and lead and all of that, but I
need one more thing,'" Green recalled. "He said 'I need you to take JK
under your wing.

"I said, 'You got my word ...To me, that was a condition of the contract."

Warriors assistant coach Anthony Vereen has played a key role this
season in helping Green better connect with Kuminga. Having worked with
Kuminga since he was drafted, Vereen learned the best way to coach him
was to build a foundation outside of the gym.

"The coaches I have respected more were because they taught me more
about life than just basketball," Vereen told ESPN. "Once you can help
anybody with problem-solving and how to handle adversity, the Xs and Os
of basketball are easy."

Kuminga moved to the United States at age 13 from the Democratic
Republic of Congo. He bounced from West Virginia to New York to New
Jersey, while also spending time in Miami, throughout his high school
career. Before getting drafted, he spent his sole season with the G
League Ignite in that league's Orlando bubble in the spring of 2021.

"I just got to know him and understand how much he's had in his personal
life," Vereen said.

Vereen shared that insight with Green, who then started to check in on
Kuminga. Sometimes it would be in the locker room or on the team bus and
plane. In other cases, it was a text message. The conversations ranged
from simply asking about one another, to discussing family or life advice.

"I identify with him in the sense that he takes care of everyone -- his
whole family. You can tell he is the head, and I can identify with
that," Green said. "Twenty-one years old, that pressure, I feel that.
Through identifying that and understanding that, I just really want to
help."

"[Green] was one of those people who knew me, but never knew me like
that," Kuminga said. "It took him a long time, but he just started
checking in every other day.

"He'd ask me questions that weren't related to basketball. ... He took
that time to get to know me and that really bridged our relationship
from just work to personal."
While serving his second suspension of the season, Green, left, remained
in constant communication with Kuminga. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

DURING HIS SUSPENSION, Green saw something that would unlock Kuminga's
offensive game: He needed to attack defenses differently, and to use his
speed and his athleticism to take advantage of any matchup on drives and
in the paint.

"He can always jump and get himself out of trouble," Green said of his
advice to Kuminga. "Nobody else is going to be up there with you. Most
of us, we've got to find angles, and different things to score, but if
you get in trouble with anything, just jump."

Green told Kuminga that his best position to create his own shot from
was in the midrange area, an observation Kuminga and Vereen confirmed on
the shot chart and began to apply on the court.

"[Kuminga] came to me like, 'AV, if I just take one more dribble I'll be
at the rim." Vereen said. "He saw that it opened up so much for him and
the team, and then he committed himself to living at the rim and making
the right reads."

That's helped Kuminga better connect on his drives to the rim -- his 63%
conversion puts him in the top-10 among players with at least 75
attempts, according to Second Spectrum. He's averaging 10 points per
game in the paint, the most by a Warriors player since Kevin Durant in
2016-17.


Click here to read the complete article

sport / alt.sports.basketball.nba.gs-warriors / ESPN.com: How Jonathan Kuminga formed a bond with Draymond Green [long]

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