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Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr commended Jonathan Kuminga on his breakout performance, calling him worthy of a starting spot — on another team.
Jonathan Kuminga had the best night of his rookie season so far on Saturday, when the forward scored a personal high of 26 points in a 119-100 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Despite the impressive promise demonstrated by Kuminga, Kerr was honest with the rookie, telling him that he would be starting if the Warriors weren’t already replete with all-star talent.
“I told him: ‘If we were a lousy team, you’d be doing this every night,” Kerr said. “‘You’d be on the all-rookie team and scoring a bunch of points, and everybody would be saying how great Kuminga is. But you wouldn’t be learning how to win.”
Steve Kerr tells Jonathan Kuminga that he’s “learning how to win” on the Warriors
Kerr’s words are an important reminder of how basketball is best played: by balancing the strengths of the team, even if it means cutting the time of someone who can obviously make the baskets.
If the Warriors were back in 2019, perhaps Kuminga would have started and revitalized the offense. Or, if Kuminga was playing for the Rockets or Pelicans, he would have his time to shine. Without time on the court, he won’t accrue personal accolades as one of the NBA’s most stellar rookies.
But he plays for the 25-6 Warriors, who have the all-time 3-point leader heading their offense in Steph Curry. Someone that could make the all-rookie team may not because the rest of his experienced teammates are stronger, and the Warriors are building towards another championship.
Kuminga is already taking Kerr’s advice, developing his three-point skills and utilizing his opportunities with all the reps he can get. Although Kuminga won’t be starting, Kerr has made it clear that he will be an integral part of the Warriors future.
“He kind of showed how talented he is, how young he is, how high his ceiling is and how far he has to go – all in one night,” Kerr said of his performance. “But that’s the whole point of getting him reps.”