Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Young Warriors star has a bigger role to play in next season: Insiders

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The Golden State Warriors have a two-pronged roadmap for success, a team full of veteran stars primed for immediate success and promising young players who are expected to keep them in title contention for many years to come.

An insider believes these two leads may converge sooner than expected.

This offseason, the Warriors lost a number of players crucial to their title run last season. Defensive-minded guard Gary Payton II was lured away from the Portland Trail Blazers and an offer the Warriors couldn’t fulfill. Jack of all trades Otto Porter Jr. landed a $12.4 million deal from the Toronto Raptors, and teammate Nemanja Bjelica opted to return to his former team in Turkey.

As reported by ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, these and other departures could shorten the learning curve for the team’s squad of young players, pushing them into bigger roles next year, and 2021 lottery winner Jonathan Kuminga could have the most on his shoulders.

As noted by Andrews, Kuminga showed a lot of potential during his rookie season and took on a major role in the rotation late in the season. He could play a bigger offensive role next year, Andrews wrote.

“The Warriors want Kuminga to use his athletics to his advantage, particularly his slasher and finisher skills,” Andrews wrote. “Towards the end of last season, he demonstrated the ability to make contact and get to the free-throw line, evidenced by a 10-for-12 performance at the strip in a blowout win against the Portland Trail Blazers in late February and a 7-for-10 against the Memphis Grizzlies in late March.”

Kuminga could have a more defined role as center James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick overall in the 2020 NBA draft. Wiseman missed almost a year and a half after suffering a knee injury, and there are still question marks surrounding his role.

As noted by CJ Holmes of the San Francisco Chronicle, the highlights of Kuminga’s rookie season were mixed with inconsistent performances and some typical rookie struggles. While another team might have given him more minutes to fix those issues, at the title-bound Warriors, Kuminga got stuck behind consistent veterans and saw more limited playing time, Holmes noted.

But Kuminga could have a chance to break out next season with more consistent playing time and a bigger role, Holmes wrote. It also means more commitment from Kuminga and a willingness to learn from his mistakes, he added.

“The raw tools at Kuminga’s disposal can evolve into All-Star level skills with proper use,” Holmes wrote. “To get there, he needs a lot of patience and hard work behind closed doors. It’s not just about being consistent on the pitch, it also needs to be locked in and engaged – consistently between the ears. Being in the right place at the right time. Routinely make the right reads and decisions. Knowing when to get a bucket and when to create for others. That’s how a young player gains confidence, and with that confidence comes greater opportunity.”

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