Kerr praises Kuminga for ’embracing coaching’ in third Warriors season

Kerr praises Kuminga for ’embracing coaching’ in third Warriors season

originally appeared on

NBC Sports Bay Area

Jonathan Kuminga
is right on track for a Year 3 breakout with the Warriors.

Golden State is undefeated in the preseason so far, thanks largely in part to the 21-year-old forward’s
NBA-high 78 points through three games. After Kuminga fell out of Steve Kerr’s playoff rotation last season, the Warriors coach
sees vast improvements from him as the 2023-24 campaign approaches.

“He’s feeling more comfortable than ever before,” Kerr told 95.7 The Game’s “Willard & Dibs” on Monday. “He’s just more confident, he’s shooting the ball well. We have a really good vibe going. I think he’s more comfortable in his own skin, which makes him more aware of the mistakes he makes and what he’s got to clean up, and he’s embracing coaching more. I just think it’s all part of a natural maturity that’s happening with JK.

“The talent has never been a question, but the main thing is this is his third year. He’s learning the NBA, he’s learning what makes winning plays, what winning looks like. His first couple years, that stuff’s hard to figure out because everything is happening so fast. It feels like JK is starting to get comfortable and figuring out what wins, and it’s coming at a great time because we really need him.”

After some inconsistency between flashes of greatness and questionable decisions on the court last season, Kuminga poured himself into his summer workouts and returned to training camp this month eager to show he’s ready
to reach the next level.

He appears to be making the strides Kerr and the Warriors’ coaching staff have asked of him, with a
major emphasis on rebounding. Kuminga didn’t necessarily land in Kerr’s “doghouse” last postseason, the coach said; he simply was a more inexperienced option on a bench full of top-notch contributors.

But now, Kerr foresees Kuminga blossoming into the player they’ve hoped for — one who does the right things and accepts instruction in order to win.

“I don’t have a doghouse. I really don’t. When the playoffs come, I just play the guys who I think are going to help us win, and last year that’s what I did,” Kerr explained, pointing to players including Gary Payton II, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry as examples. “… We had a lot of guys who were capable of helping us win, so I chose them. I didn’t feel like JK was ready at that point, frankly. If I did, I would have played him, so it’s pretty simple.

“This is all part of every young player’s process — going through and growing and learning, and getting to the point where you’ve earned that trust from the staff, and you understand what makes winning plays. So it’s been really fun. JK and I are really clicking and enjoying each other’s company and collaborating every single day. I think it’s all playing out just as it should.”

With that in mind, Dub Nation certainly is ready to see what the regular season holds for Kuminga.

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