At 20-24, the No. 12 seed in the West, the Warriors certainly aren’t where they hoped to be in the standings at this point in the 2023/24 season. However, one bright spot of late has been the play of third-year forward Jonathan Kuminga, says Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
As Slater writes, Kuminga has been highly efficient attacking the paint over the past seven games, scoring 20-plus each game in averaging 25.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 61.9% from the field (32.0 minutes). Star guard Stephen Curry thinks Kuminga is turning a corner in his development.
“(He has) clarity on how he can impact the game,” Curry said. “Defensive intensity, pressure, taking what the defense gives him on the offensive end. Whether it’s attacking driving lanes, finishing at the rim, getting transition buckets for us, and knocking down open shots. There’s just an element of aggressiveness. You don’t want him out there second-guessing anything.”
Playing Kuminga more and letting him learn from mistakes shows the team finally realized it needed to shake things up, especially on offense, according to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, who notes that Andrew Wiggins has played well lately too with Draymond Green starting at center.
Kuminga’s prominent role is in stark contrast to the uneven minutes he received earlier this season, with a report just a few weeks ago suggesting the 21-year-old was losing faith in head coach Steve Kerr. However, Slater recently said Kuminga has felt better about his situation since he met with Kerr in the wake of that report.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Christian Wood sent out a tweet saying “lol” shortly before the Lakers announced their starting lineup on Tuesday featured Jaxson Hayes starting at center with Anthony Davis sidelined, but he said after the game it wasn’t related to basketball, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “I meant to quote (tweet) something,” Wood said. “I thought I did and I just pressed send, and I couldn’t check my phone before because we have to go out (to the court), but it was an accident. … I looked at it just now. … It came off a certain type of way. I didn’t mean it that way.” After the loss to Atlanta, LeBron James also sent out a cryptic hourglass emoji, Buha adds. The trade deadline is next Thursday, and the Lakers are currently 24-25.
- The Timberwolves have only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once in franchise history. How will they handle the pressure of being considered a title contender? ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explores that topic, writing that Karl-Anthony Towns‘ willingness to adjust his game has paid dividends thus far in 2023/24. “The winning helps. It’s good when you’re able to sacrifice to see the result you wanted and share the success,” Towns said. “We’re all making this happen. This is not just a singular effort. This is a team coming together and saying ‘We really want to do something special.’“
- Already an impressive defender in year two, Nuggets forward Peyton Watson says he’s looking to expand his game on the other end of the court, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. Watson has been taking far more mid-range shots lately, an area he’s comfortable in. “Coming in as a young player and trying to make a name for yourself and get a spot in the rotation, you’re not just coming in shooting of the dribble jumpers,” Watson told DNVR. “That’s not analytically the best shot, especially if you’re someone just coming in and trying to create his role. Now that I’ve created my role and people know what I’m going to do on the defensive end, it’s just been more about me expanding my game offensively, seeing what works, trial and error, and getting ready for when it counts in the playoffs.”