Golden State Warriors’ rookie Jonathan Kuminga made his NBA debut Saturday night in a 103-82 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was an inauspicious debut, with Kuminga scoring 3 points on 1-4 shooting and turning the ball over twice. At the same time, it’s hard to judge the rookie’s performance in a game that was long over by the time he entered with six minutes to play and the Warriors leading by 30. Kuminga was playing with fellow rookie Moses Moody, two-way guard Chris Chiozza, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Gary Payton II - not exactly a scorching offensive lineup.
Kuminga is very raw, plus he hadn’t played a game in three weeks, so we shouldn’t expect a ton of polish yet. But let’s look at how some other notable Warriors did in their first games.
Steph Curry: Curry put up 14 points in the Warriors’ opener in 2009, a narrow loss to the Houston Rockets. Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, and Corey Maggette did the bulk of the shooting, with Curry racking up seven assists and four steals. Steph started the game with a steal and a missed three 35 seconds into the game, and didn’t attempt another the rest of the game. He was 1-6 through three quarters, but in a positive omen for his career, he poured in 12 points in the final quarter, making all six of his shots.
Klay Thompson: In the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Thompson and the Warriors opened on Christmas Day against the Clippers, which was also Chris Paul’s first game with the Clips. Thompson missed his first four shots, but with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter, he hit the first of his 1,798 three-pointers (and counting!). Klay finished with 7 points on 2-8 shooting, and the Clippers pulled away from the Warriors late to win 105-86.
Draymond Green: On Halloween 2012, Draymond Green made his debut spelling fellow rookie Festus Ezeli near the end of the third quarter, in the Warriors’ season-opening win over Phoenix. In his minute and fifteen seconds of game action, Green rebounded a Michael Beasley miss and then fouled Jared Dudley, and then Ezeli came back in. Draymond wouldn’t get his first points until his sixth pro game, and wouldn’t make a field goal until Game 8. Surprisingly, his first bucket was a three-pointer. Unsurprisingly, he immediately got a technical foul for taunting after it went in.
That was also Harrison Barnes’ first game. He started and scored 6 points with 3 rebounds in 13 minutes.
Monta Ellis: It wasn’t until the seventh game of the 2005-6 season that Monta Ellis got off the bench for the We Don’t Believe Yet Warriors. Jason Richardosn got in foul trouble during the third quarter of a loss to Phoenix, and Monta finished out the quarter. His only shot attempt was blocked by future Phoenix GM James Jones, and he shockingly finished with more assists (2) than field goal attempts (1).
Antawn Jamison: In the season opener against Houston, Jamison came in for Donyell Marshall in the second quarter, just in time for the Rockets to take the lead with a 14-5 run. Jamison missed both his shots, but he did get a steal and make a free throw in a stretch where Scottie Pippen outscored the entire Warriors team. With Jamison on the bench, the Warriors scored only 11 points in the 4th quarter and lost 86-84.
Chris Mullin: Like Kuminga, Mully was the seventh pick in the draft. He didn’t suit up until the seventh game of the season, but he started strong, scoring 15 points in 24 minutes off the bench in a 105-101 win over Seattle. By mid-December, he’d supplanted Terry Teagle in the starting lineup.
Tim Hardaway: Run TMC with Hardaway, Mullin, and Mitch Richmond started together in the Warriors’ 1989 season opener, and Hardaway was not shy. He went 0-7 from the field and committed five fouls in 23 minutes, a precursor to his NBA-worst single-game shooting performance two years later, when he shot 0-17 (in a win!). This was a blowout loss for the Dubs, which is to be expected for any team that starts Uwe Blab. By Thanksgiving, Hardaway had found his stride, and on January 8th, he had his first career triple-double with a 19/10/19 line against Denver.
Rick Barry: The “Miami Greyhound” hit the ground running with a 17-point, 10-rebound effort in a close loss to the Lakers. The 21-year-old Barry scored 25 in his next game, and two months later he scored 57 in a game against the Knicks, on his way to an All-Star appearance. He averaged 25.7 and 10.6 rebounds on the season, and the next year he was the scoring champion on a Finals team. No wonder the ABA wanted him!
Wilt Chamberlain: Wilt the Stilt’s adjustment period to the NBA lasted about two seconds, as he dominated his very first game. Chamberlain scored 43 points on 17-27 shooting, and pulled down a remarkable 28 rebounds. He’d set a still-unbroken rookie record three months later with 58 points in a win, and finished his rookie season averaging 35.6 points and 27 rebounds. While it’s almost a perfect debut, Wilt’s college debut was even better, when he had 52 points and 31 rebounds for Kansas.