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sport / / NBCSBA (Poole): Why Kuminga coming off Warriors' bench is right move for now

o NBCSBA (Poole): Why Kuminga coming off Warriors' bench is right move for nowRobin Miller

NBCSBA (Poole): Why Kuminga coming off Warriors' bench is right move for now


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From: robin.mi...@invalid.invalid (Robin Miller)
Subject: NBCSBA (Poole): Why Kuminga coming off Warriors' bench is right move
for now
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 by: Robin Miller - Tue, 9 Apr 2024 02:08 UTC

Why Kuminga coming off Warriors' bench is right move for now

By Monte Poole

• Published April 7, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO – Chase Center was quite the low-stress environment for
the Warriors late Sunday afternoon. They’d already decided to sit
Stephen Curry against an abysmal Utah Jazz team, and a berth in the NBA
play-in tournament was clinched before tipoff.

The Warriors, on cue, raced to a 118-110 victory over the Jazz. The game
was not nearly as close as the score, but it provided the perfect
opportunity to ease Jonathan Kuminga back into action.

Kuminga was the team’s starting small forward before missing six games
with bilateral knee tendinitis, but the Warriors were 5-1 in his
absence. So, coach Steve Kerr decided Kuminga would come off the bench
in his return.

With Andrew Wiggins and Curry on the sideline, Kerr installed Brandin
Podziemski and Chris Paul as starters alongside Trayce Jackson-Davis,
Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

“The decision to start Brandin was based on combinations,” Kerr said.
“With Steph out, we want to keep starting Draymond and Trayce for
defensive reasons. It felt like a better combination if we started
Brandin and brought Jonathan off the bench.”

Kuminga responded as the Warriors would have wished. He entered with
6:14 left in the first quarter an immediately went on the attack,
consistently sprinting up and down the court. He was both active and
productive and efficient.

“JK did a great job tonight,” Kerr said. “He looked bouncy and strong. I
watched him work out yesterday and he got a great workout in.”

With 21 points in 27 minutes, Kuminga looked like a man determined to
prove his knees feel great – and that he’d like to regain his place in
the starting lineup.

There is no reason at this time to believe he will. Or should.

The Warriors’ best starting lineup does not include Kuminga. With
Jackson-Davis at center, Green and Wiggins at forward, with Thompson
joining Curry in the backcourt, they deliver the level of interior
defense required to keep them in most games.

“Bringing Jonathan off the bench, watching him run the floor and attack
the rim, that’s a great dynamic to have off the bench,” Kerr said. “But
we have to see. When Steph is back, we’ve got to find exactly how we
want to do this, because you know we really felt good about JK starting
about 30 straight games, with Draymond at the 5.

“But given what's happened over the last couple weeks, I want to keep
starting Trayce. If JK is coming off the bench and he plays the way he
did tonight, then great. We’ll figure it out.”

So, what to do with Kuminga? He can provide the burst Klay Thompson
offered during his month as a reserve. They’re different players, to be
sure, but both have the goods to demand considerable attention from the
opposing defense.

This was Kuminga’s sixth consecutive 20-point game coming off the bench.
He’s capable. And he doesn’t seem to mind.

“I wasn’t concerned about coming off the bench,” Kuminga said. “It’s
like coach always says, it don’t matter. As long as you go in there and
give it all you’ve got, you’ll be in there.

“I was more concerned with just going in there and impacting a win.”

Kuminga’s 21 points came on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, with a
splendid mix of the spectacular and the mundane. His four assists were
welcomed, but perhaps the most delightful statistic were his team-high
10 rebounds.

That is notable because rebounding has been the least consistent aspect
of Kuminga’s game. He knows it because he has heard it from coaches and

He will get minutes, regardless of how or when. The bench is the right
call, at least for now.

sport / / NBCSBA (Poole): Why Kuminga coming off Warriors' bench is right move for now


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