Thursday night was a tough game for the Golden State Warriors. The Milwaukee Bucks dominated from the vault in a 118-99 win. The reigning champions even led the Warriors by 39 at halftime.
The Warriors’ poor performance lies amid their recent struggles. The team is only 5-5 in their last 10 games and is a game and a half behind the Phoenix Suns at the top of the Western Conference standings. Also, the second-place team is just a game and a half ahead of the Grizzlies.
Despite the Warriors’ struggles, rookie Jonathan Kuminga had a good game, scoring 15 points and posting a career-high seven rebounds. The score is the second-highest in the rookie’s career. Kuminga’s performance prompted some interesting comments from head coach Steve Kerr after the game.
“If you look at where Giannis is now and you think of him as a rookie, you have to think of JK (Jonathan Kuminga) … Not much understanding of the NBA, not much understanding of what’s still going on. But that’s where Giannis was ten years ago,” Kerr said.
Given the superstardom that Giannis has risen to, Kerr’s comments might sound far-fetched on the surface, but let’s take a look. In Antetokounmpo’s rookie season, he averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 24.6 minutes per game. So far, Kuminga is averaging just 10 minutes per game but averaging 5.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
According to Cleaning the Glass, Giannis and Kuminga also rank similarly in points per shot attempt in their rookie seasons. Giannis scored 100 points per 100 shot attempts while Kuminga scored 102.6 points per 100 shot attempts. Both have similar effective field goal percentages and steal percentages as well. Kuminga currently has a 48.5 effective field goal percentage, while Giannis had a 45.4 in his rookie season. Giannis had a steal percentage of 1.4 while Kumingas is currently 1.3.
As for the similarities, there are some obvious differences between the two. The big one is the height: Giannis is listed at 6ft 11 while Kuminga measures 6ft 8. Another difference is their background: although both are foreign-born players of African descent, they grew up very differently. Giannis grew up in Greece until his draft, while Kuminga lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo until he moved to the United States in 2016 to play basketball in high school.
Giannis didn’t start playing basketball until he was 13, Kuminga started playing basketball at an early age.
Her introduction to basketball in the US was really different too. When Giannis was drafted in 2013, he was a relatively unknown man. Kuminga was a five-star prospect in the US and played in the G-League before being drafted.
While some of their stats are similar, the situations they were put in were very different. Giannis was drafted to a Bucks team that went 15-67 in his rookie season, giving him more playing time. Kuminga is on a loaded team which makes finding minutes for him difficult at times.
There are both many similarities and differences between Giannis and Kuminga. Regardless, it’s encouraging that a big basketball head like Kerr sees some similarities. If Kuminga can develop even a fraction like Giannis, then he has a good career ahead of him.