Why Jonathan Kuminga coming off the Warriors bench is the right move for now – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

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By journalsofus.com

SAN FRANCISCO – Chase Center was a pretty low-stress atmosphere for the Warriors on Sunday afternoon. They had already decided to pit Stephen Curry against a very bad Utah Jazz team, and the spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament was clinched before tipoff.

The Warriors took the lead with a 118-110 win over the Jazz. The game wasn’t that close in score, but it provided the perfect opportunity to get Jonathan Kuminga back into action.

Kuminga was the team’s starting small forward before missing six games due to bilateral knee tendinitis, but the Warriors went 5–1 in his absence. Therefore, coach Steve Kerr decided that Kuminga would come off the bench in his return.

Keeping Andrew Wiggins and Curry on the sidelines, Kerr installed Brandin Podziemski and Chris Paul as starters along with 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 Draymond and Tracy starting for defensive reasons. If we started Brandin and moved Jonathan off the bench it seemed like a better combination.

Kuminga responded just as the warriors would have wanted. He entered with 6:14 remaining in the first quarter and immediately went on offense, constantly running up and down the court. He was both active, productive and efficient.

“JK did a great job tonight,” Kerr said. “He looked bouncy and strong. I saw him working out yesterday and he got a really good workout.”

With 21 points in 27 minutes, Kuminga looked like a guy determined to prove that his knees are great — and that he wants to regain his place in the starting lineup.

At this time there is no reason to believe he will do so. Or should.

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

“Bringing Jonathan off the bench, seeing him run the floor and attack the rim, it’s a great dynamic to have coming off the bench,” Kerr said. “But we will have to see. When Steph comes back, we’ve got to figure out how we want to do that, because you know we felt really good with JK starting almost 30 straight games, with Draymond starting five.

“But given what’s happened over the last few weeks, I want to continue to start Tracy. If JK comes off the bench and plays like he did tonight, great. we’ll figure it out.”

So, what to do with kuminga? He could provide the burst Klay Thompson offered during his month as a reserve. They’re certainly different players, but both have the ability to draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses.

It was Kuminga’s sixth consecutive 20-point game coming off the bench. he is able. And he doesn’t seem to mind.

“I wasn’t worried about coming off the bench,” Kuminga said. “It’s like coach always says, it doesn’t matter. As long as you go out there and give it your all, you’ll be there.

“I was more concerned about going out there and getting a win.”

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

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

He’ll get minutes, no matter how and when. At least for now the bench is the right decision.

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