There are few players in the 2021 NBA Draft that are quite as polarizing as 18-year old wing Jonathan Kuminga. The electric athlete opted to forgo college offers to play for the G League Ignite, and at the time was expected by most to be one of the top picks in this year’s draft.
But a hot-and-cold season in the G-League changed things. Kuminga had strong raw stats that pointed to his talent — 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game — but also had some serious weaknesses. He shot just 46.3% on twos, 24.6% on threes, and 62.5% on free throws. He struggled defensively and, rather worryingly, often seemed to lack effort on that end of the court.
As such, some see Kuminga as a player who could slip to the end of the lottery and has major red flags to address, while others see him as a player who could go in the top five and has superstar potential.
But one thing is becoming clear: the Warriors are intrigued.
According to a report from Connor Letourneau, the Golden State Warriors are starting to head in Kuminga’s direction. Here’s what Letourneau had to say, in part:
If Kuminga is available at seven, the Warriors will face a difficult decision. His lackluster defense and shooting struggles with G League Ignite at the G League bubble indicated that he might need more time at that level in the G League. That could be hard for the Warriors to stomach, given that they want to maximize what’s left of their core’s prime.
But Kuminga’s physical gifts and scoring upside give him a legitimate chance to become an All-NBA player, which can’t necessarily be said about anyone else expected to be available at seven. A league source told The Chronicle on Wednesday afternoon that the Warriors are “leaning toward” taking Kuminga if he’s available at No. 7.
It’s certainly a big “if.” The Athletic’s two mock draft writers, John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie were split on that point, with the former having Kuminga off the board, and the latter mocking him to Golden State.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jonathan Givony of ESPN both have Kuminga available at No. 7, though each has the Dubs passing on him (O’Connor mocks Josh Giddey to the Warriors, and Givony opted for Franz Wagner). Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation thinks Kuminga will be taken before the Warriors have a chance to snag him.
Kuminga is a tantalizing talent, but would be a slightly unconventional pick for the Warriors. He’s a wing who struggles to shoot, developed a bit of a reputation last year for holding onto the ball, and isn’t viewed as a strong decision maker. That doesn’t exactly have “Warriors offensive system” written all over it, and that’s before we start addressing the defensive concerns.
But Letourneau brought up a very good point: the Warriors are still holding out hope for a Bradley Beal trade, and since that is unlikely to materialize before the draft, it makes sense for the Warriors to pick the high-upside players who could fetch the most in a trade later on in the offseason, or halfway through the year.
On that note, Letourneau also reported that the Warriors are expected to be willing to part with both the No. 7 and No. 14 pick if it lands them a starting-caliber player, even if that player is not a star.
In other words, Kuminga may be the favorite right now ... but my goodness there are a lot of options.
Hang onto your hats.