SACRAMENTO – While sitting at his locker in the Golden 1 Center, Jonathan Kuminga reflected on his career high for free throws attempted in a game. He believes it was 15, possibly against the Los Angeles Lakers when he was a rookie.
However, the actual number is 12, achieved in a blowout victory against the Portland Trail Blazers. Interestingly, Kuminga shot a total of 17 free throws in the Warriors’ 121-115 preseason win against the Sacramento Kings. This exceeds his previous career high by five and doubles his highest single-game total from last season.
Although Kuminga was aware that he was getting to the line frequently, he was surprised to learn the actual number post-game.
“I was surprised I shot 17 free throws today, but it’s something that I’ve been working on and trying to be consistent at because I know they’re going to foul me a lot,” Kuminga said to NBC Sports Bay Area.
Kuminga’s ability to exploit mismatches and attack the rim has been a key focus for Steve Kerr and the coaching staff, aiming to maximize the potential of this highly talented player. The Warriors, known for their prowess in three-point shooting led by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, recognize that Kuminga can bring balance to their offensive game by drawing fouls and taking advantage of free-throw opportunities.
Interestingly, while the Warriors ranked first in the NBA for three-point attempts per game last season with an average of 43.2 shots, they ranked last in free-throw attempts with only 20.2 per game. Conversely, the Lakers led the league with an average of 26.6 free throws attempted per game.
Coach Kerr emphasized the importance of Kuminga’s ability to attack the rim and draw fouls, given the team’s lower athleticism compared to other teams in the league. Increasing free-throw attempts not only adds points to the scoreboard but also allows the Warriors to set up their defense for the next possession.
Kuminga has been the Warriors’ leading scorer for the third consecutive game, showcasing his potential with impressive performances. In the preseason opener, he scored 24 points off the bench, followed by a 26-point game. In his first start, with Curry and Chris Paul resting, he contributed 28 points. Against the Kings, despite a lower shooting percentage from the field, Kuminga’s ability to draw fouls proved valuable.
Teammate Moses Moody acknowledged the importance of Kuminga’s ability to get to the free-throw line, recognizing the pressure he puts on defenders and the strategic advantage it brings to the team.
As a rookie, Kuminga shot 68.4 percent from the free-throw line on average 2.7 attempts per game. However, both numbers dropped last season with 65.2 percent accuracy on average 2.1 attempts per game. While Coach Kerr does not specify a desired percentage, he emphasizes the importance of Kuminga’s mentality when approaching free throws.
“Mentality,” Kerr said. “Same with [Andrew Wiggins]. Wiggs got to the line a lot tonight, which was great. But those two guys can change our team with their athleticism and their ability to attack and get to the foul line. Every time we get to the line, it’s not only free points, but you get your defense set up for the next possession. So, that’s valuable.”
Kuminga currently aims for a free-throw percentage above 75, and he is actively working to achieve this goal through dedication and trust in the process. In the preseason, he has maintained a 75.9 percent accuracy from the free-throw line, yet he acknowledges there is still room for improvement.
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