Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Steve Kerr’s advice for Warriors rookie phenom

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With all the success the Golden State Warriors have had early in this playoff, many of their young players have taken a back seat in the rotation.

When the dubs’ veterans got injured, youngsters like Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody played great minutes for much of the season. This has partly helped improve their skills and confidence on the pitch, which other competing teams don’t offer such young players.

But now that the veterans are back for the playoffs, it’s mostly pushed a lot of the younger guys out of the rotation. Nonetheless, Steve Kerr addressed some words of wisdom for his young players, especially Kuminga.

“That’s a big part of the playoffs,” Kerr said after practice on April 23. “Everybody stay ready. A guy like JK [Kuminga] never experienced it. He cannot rely on experience; he needs advice.”

Kuminga logged just eight minutes in the first three games of the playoffs and hasn’t played that big of a role in her streak with the Denver Nuggets.

“I remind all the guys every day that things change in the blink of an eye in the playoffs,” Kerr continues. “Someone gets injured, the matchup changes, someone on the other team gets injured, they’re playing someone new. You have to be prepared for anything and we have a lot of evidence of that over the years.”

For now, at least, the Warriors don’t seem to think the Nuggets are a good matchup for Kuminga. The seventh overall winner has mostly seen time on the floor when the game result was already decided. The team has yet to throw the rookie into the fire, but that could change soon.

In Game 4 on April 24, Kuminga posted a playoff career-high with 9 points in 11 minutes. The 11 minutes was longer than the previous three games combined of 8 minutes.

In the second quarter, Kuminga showed his athleticism as he smashed down the left baseline for a monstrous jam on a fast break.

Kerr said after the game that Kuminga had done great things on the pitch and helped the team resume their sluggish start after they were “stuck in the mud”.

Despite the rookie only appearing in the first half, it was still a vote of confidence from the coaching staff to play in significant playoff minutes and at times take on last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic.

With the playoffs taking on multiple opponents within a couple of months, there will be instances where Kuminga will play in a good chunk of minutes at some point this postseason.

As Kerr said, there are so many different factors that could make someone like Kuminga see more time on the floor. Someone might get into trouble or need to change pace during adjustments.

The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II wrote that people at the Warriors believe Kuminga will be needed at some point this postseason.

Unlike Denver, both Memphis and Minnesota like to run and play a fast pace. This would benefit an athletic, high-flying act like Kuminga. He’ll likely be needed to stay ahead of the likes of Jaren Jackson Jr., Karl-Anthony Towns or Jarred Vanderbilt.

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