Why Jonathan Kuminga is a Warriors’ X-factor to Kevin O’Connor

Why KOC compares Warriors’ Kuminga to current All-Star originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Jonathan Kuminga’s role with the Warriors has been inconsistent so far through his rookie season, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t play a pivotal role in the team’s pursuit of a title this season.

After Kuminga’s breakout performance in the Warriors’ shorthanded loss to the Toronto Raptors last weekend, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor broke down why he has compared the 19-year-old rookie to an All-Star forward who also was a top-10 draft pick.

“Kuminga reminded me of a young Jaylen Brown, except taller and stronger,” O’Connor wrote earlier this week. “Even though Kuminga is only 19, the third-youngest player in the NBA, he has the strength and frame of an older player, which he uses to get into the paint with burly downhill attacks. He floats when he elevates for dunks. And like Brown, Kuminga must develop a consistent 3-point shot. But against Toronto he hit four triples, showing his full potential as a versatile scorer.”

Kuminga finished with 26 points in that loss to the Raptors, shooting 9-of-15 from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line. He did turn the ball over six times, demonstrating his youth and inexperience compared to many of his fellow rookies.

Teams expected to compete for titles don’t often hold a pair of lottery draft picks, and it was not expected that Kuminga or No. 14 selection Moses Moody would be earning major minutes nightly for the Warriors.

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However, especially with the Warriors’ historically sizable luxury tax bill, solid contributors on rookie-scale contracts are extremely helpful for both the now of competing this season and maintaining this group over the next few years.

O’Connor also cites the Warriors’ recent successes in player development as reasons to keep Kuminga in the rotation.

“Why would the Warriors not bet on themselves? They’re on a recent streak of optimizing their talent. Jordan Poole has come along offensively. Andrew Wiggins has altered the perception of his talents. Gary Payton II is becoming a highly effective NBA player. Kuminga looks like he’s next,” O’Connor wrote.

How long it takes for the 19-year-old Kuminga to reach that ceiling remains to be seen, but he certainly has shown plenty of flashes so far in his first NBA season.

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