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sport / / NBCSBA: Kuminga's personal growth extends well beyond breakout Warriors season

o NBCSBA: Kuminga's personal growth extends well beyond breakout Warriors seasonRobin Miller

NBCSBA: Kuminga's personal growth extends well beyond breakout Warriors season


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From: robin.mi...@invalid.invalid (Robin Miller)
Subject: NBCSBA: Kuminga's personal growth extends well beyond breakout
Warriors season
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 21:21:53 -0400
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 by: Robin Miller - Thu, 18 Apr 2024 01:21 UTC

Kuminga's personal growth extends well beyond breakout Warriors season

By Dalton Johnson

• Published 43 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – Jonathan Kuminga could have sat at the Chase Center
podium Wednesday afternoon following the Warriors’ season-ending NBA
Play-In Tournament loss to the Sacramento Kings and spoke about his
statistical Year 3 leap, showing stretches of a star as one of the
league’s most improved players.

That wasn’t the growth Kuminga was most interested in.

“I think I grew, not basketball related, just as a person,” Kuminga
said. “Just being the person I am when I'm not playing basketball around
all my teammates and my coaches.”

Kuminga had recently wrapped up his end-of-the-season exit interview
with Steve Kerr before speaking to the media. It wasn’t too long ago the
relationship between player and coach was seriously questioned.
Splintered and maybe even fractured for good.

The former No. 7 overall pick in the NBA draft often has talked about
how he feels he can do everything on the court. His affinity for the
late Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality and his desire to be a superstar, not
down the road but right here and right now.

But now Kuminga can look back at that moment in early January as a
possible turning point for his career.

“It was more about communication,” Kuminga said regarding his personal
development. “Communication is, I think it's the key to everything, no
matter how that communication comes out, but there's definitely got to
be better communication. I think that was my biggest growth.

“And I just spoke to Steve not too long ago. We had a couple good
conversations this year and he told me that's the thing he was most
proud of me, besides basketball. Like that was the biggest thing he was
really proud of me about – just being able to communicate with him and
communicate with my teammates better and the staff.”

Later in his press conference Kuminga was asked to expand on why he went
into Kerr’s office earlier in the season for an essential heart-to-heart
conversation. His answer didn’t resemble that of someone who became old
enough to legally drink a mere six months ago. Instead, his reflection
resembled a maturing young man who hasn’t just heard advice from his
multi-time champion teammates and coach, but has listened and absorbed
every word.

While also finding his own voice as well.

“Sometimes people don't know you if you don't speak,” Kuminga said.
“Sometimes people don't know what's going on in your mind if you don't
actually get to see it. Like it's the same way I don't know what's going
on in my coach's mind if I don't get to ask them questions. It's the
same way as you guys here asking me questions about everything or about
basketball or about my life.

“I mean, y'all wouldn't know if I didn't communicate with you guys. I
think that's the biggest thing. That's pretty much what I had to do and
learn and just be myself and find a way to communicate with my
teammates, my coaches and everything else.”

Prior to Kuminga sitting the final 18 minutes of a Jan. 4 loss to Denver
Nuggets, a game in which he scored 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting and was
a plus-6 with four rebounds and four assists, he averaged 12.7 points in
22.2 minutes. After his frustrating view from the sidelines in the
Warriors’ loss, he started 34 of his final 41 regular-season games,
averaging 29.7 minutes and 18.7 points.

Kuminga bumped his averages across the board from last season, one where
he received three DNPs (Did Not Play) in the Warriors’ 10 playoff games,
to his ultra-important third year as a pro this season. He was the
Warriors’ third-leading scorer (16.1 points) while playing the
seventh-most minutes (26.3) per game. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Kevon Looney
and Gary Payton II were the three Warriors this season who had a better
field goal percentage than Kuminga’s 52.9 percent.

None of those three even took five shots per game, with the majority of
their attempts being right at the rim.

“Yeah, he took a big leap,” Andrew Wiggins said. “JK, he's very
talented, very competitive and a hell of an athlete. Not a lot of people
more athletic than JK. The sky's the limit for him. His potential is off
the roof. What is he like, 21? 22? 21? Yeah, I mean, the sky's the limit
for him.

“He's going to keep getting better and better and better, and an
All-Star season is coming soon for him – for sure.”

Even in his third season with the Warriors, Kuminga still was the
second-youngest player on the team, a little under four months older
than rookie Brandin Podziemski. After his first two NBA seasons, and
maybe even a few months ago, it would have been easy to assume Kuminga
would unquestionably agree with Wiggins’ All-Star assessment.

The honor undoubtedly can be reached by Kuminga in the near future.
First, he’s taking the road of accountability to get there.

“It's just all going to depend on how I take this summer,” Kuminga said.
“It's just going to come down to how I go through this summer. Because
anything is possible and I feel like I could do it. Going through next
year, it just all comes down to what type of summer I'm going to have.”

Growth begins within, and Kuminga exuded exactly that out loud going
into a crucial offseason for himself and the Warriors alike.

sport / / NBCSBA: Kuminga's personal growth extends well beyond breakout Warriors season


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