Jonathan Kuminga’s path to bigger role detailed by Steve Kerr – Fitnessnacks & Sports

Steve Kerr balked at the notion he’d ever guarantee a finite role or amount of court time to a player’s agent or other representation. As rumors continue swirling about Jonathan Kuminga’s interest in leaving the Golden State Warriors barring an uptick in minutes next season, though, Kerr laid out exactly what the 20-year-old needs to do become a permanent member of his team’s rotation.

The Warriors’ coach said on the most recent episode of The TK Show that Kuminga’s path to a bigger role in 2023-24 must come through improvements as a rebounder and transition runner.

“The minutes are there for him to take as the backup 4 next year. He’s gotta make strides. He and I talked about it,” Kerr told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami of Kuminga. “The number one thing is he’s gotta rebound. If he rebounds and runs the floor there’s gonna be a lot of opportunity for him.”

Kuminga’s need to impact the glass, especially, is one Golden State coaches publicly pointed to on multiple occasions throughout 2022-23. Kerr admitted during the first round of the playoffs that Kuminga’s inconsistencies as a rebounder is the main factor that left him out of the rotation against the Sacramento Kings.

But it’s not just the hustle and grunt work of rebounding and running the floor that kept Jonathan Kuminga glued to the bench for the duration of the Dubs’ brief playoff run this season.  The Warriors relied on Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II playing de facto power forward versus the Los Angeles Lakers to combat Anthony Davis’ sweeping impact as a paint-protector, using the athletic wings as finishers and playmakers on the roll in ball-screen actions with Steph Curry.

As Kerr sees it, becoming comfortable in that specific space is the next frontier for Kuminga—a representation of the nuance all young players need to muster before truly coming into their own.

“JK needs to work on that as well. These are things that are really detail oriented. There are things about the way you screen and dive and catch and finish in the lane, in traffic, that just take time,” Kerr said. “So that’s why both Gary and Wiggs were playing the 4 in the playoffs ahead of Jonathan, but he’s entering his third year next year. He’s 20 years old, he’s got a great future ahead, he’s just gotta keep on the same path he’s on. But he’s gotta make those strides like I said on the glass and running the floor and diving in pick-and-roll. If he does those things then he’s gonna play more, and that’s how you continue to grow and build your game.”

Golden State needs reinforcements to compete in the Western Conference next season, but has limited flexibility to add more talent. The team’s best means of shuffling the roster deck is likely trading Jordan Poole, whose value is at an all-time low coming off a disastrous postseason before his big-money extension hits the books in 2023-24.

Athletic, versatile wings with any semblance of on-ball skill are the most valuable player archetype in basketball. The Warriors are unlikely to bring back that kind of needle-mover in a potential Poole trade, let alone in free agency.

Jonathan Kuminga proved during a promising regular season he’s not far away from becoming a reliable impact player, capable of guarding multiple positions and filling multiple roles offensively. What happens this summer could decide if his developmental fire is fueled with the Warriors, or ultimately sparks his departure from San Francisco.

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