Here are some takeaways from the action.
Kuminga’s star power is already on display
Jonathan Kuminga’s second Vegas game was not without a fair share of hiccups. While he led all scorers with 18 points, he shot just 5-for-17 from the field and turned the ball over 6 times.
But, aside from a certain play by Gary Payton II — more on that in a minute — Kuminga had the four plays that drew the largest reaction from the crowd.
One was a gorgeous block, punctuated with violent style. And the other three? Well, the other three were all dunks.
No, we don’t have to worry about another Kelly Oubre Jr. here. Kuminga was not simply missing dunks he should have made. Instead, he was testing the limits of his athleticism — on alley-oops, drives, and putbacks — and putting on display just how many highlights are in his future.
Jonathan Kuminga misses the poster dunk over two Raptors pic.twitter.com/3AHVHDkIFJ— hoops bot (@hoops_bot) August 12, 2021
I’ve spent three straight days watching nonstop basketball in Vegas until my eyes have started to hurt. No player’s athleticism has stood out to me as much as Kuminga. No player has been close.
GP2 can do that?!
Kuminga’s missed dunks were exciting, but makes are better than misses.
I have no recollection of seeing Gary Payton II ever dunk but apparently he can not only do it, but do it with style? Who knew.
This was the biggest cheer all night in Vegas:
Guarantee his contract already, Warriors. He earned it right there.
It’s not uncommon for star players to show up to Summer League to support their teams, but it was fun to see a Warriors squad with title aspirations fit that bill on Wednesday night.
Steph Curry was sitting courtside, chatting with Bob Myers and seemingly everyone within 50 feet of him. Draymond Green showed up with his new best friend, the Olympic gold medal. Damion Lee and Kevon Looney were there, and James Wiseman and Mychal Mulder hung out by the Warriors bench, handing out advice and listening in on huddles.
The Dubs have taken Summer League extra seriously this year. Rather than borrowing a local school’s gym — and splitting time with other teams that need it — the Warriors rented out an entire athletic complex, and have set up camp there, with many of their veterans hitting the city to train.
It’s a collaborative effort, and it will pay off in a few months.
Kuminga is everywhere
Some players simply have a presence. Kuminga seems to have that presence. He wasn’t chaotic or reckless, but he did appear to always be involved. He seemed to be at the rim anytime a Raptors player was attacking. He appeared out of nowhere for every loose ball and rogue rebound. He was always getting down the court in transition, and the offensive possessions seemed to always revolve around him in some capacity.
The No. 7 pick is a long, long ways from being able to contribute at the NBA level, but his ability to put his fingerprints on every possession is exciting.
Jessup finally finds some rhythm
Justinian Jessup is not going to be on this year’s team, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he never plays a minute for the Warriors in his career. But after two dismal games over the last week — and, frankly, an awful start to this game — the 2020 second-round pick finally showed up.
Jessup’s shot started falling for the first time this summer, and as it did his confidence clicked. He started driving more, creating his own space, and making plays. He finished with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting, including 3-for-4 from deep.
“Getting up and down in practice, getting some live reps, seeing where my shot’s gonna come from, definitely helps,” Jessup said when I asked him if increased comfort with the team and system were helping him out. “Things like that, as the week has gone on, definitely helps.”
#NBLxNBA Summer League ☀️— The NBL (@NBL) August 12, 2021
Justinian Jessup found the mark for the Warriors in their win over Toronto earlier today. The @illawarrahawks Next Star finished with 13 points and three rebounds
Catch NBA Summer League action on @ESPNAusNZ pic.twitter.com/pJrEvEk4Fo
Currently Jessup is too one-dimensional to be an NBA player, especially since that one dimension (shooting) isn’t exactly something he’s excelling at. But at least the Warriors got enough of a taste to keep an eye on him in Australia this year.
Moody can shoot, but needs to do more
It wasn’t a Moses Moody game that made you think we’ll be seeing much of him this season. Moody simply didn’t do much ... the defense was modest, the playmaking was nonexistent, and the offense was mostly uninteresting.
But my goodness he can shoot. That wasn’t really on display Wednesday — he shot 3-for-7 from deep and 1-for-8 on twos — but his mechanics are gorgeous, and he gets his shot off gracefully and quickly.
Still, if Kuminga was everywhere, it kind of felt like Moody was nowhere.
GP2 is learning
I’m not going to dive deep into Payton’s game, because I’m going to write about him tomorrow and his potential fit as the final player on the roster. But it’s clear that he’s trying to apply what the Warriors are asking of him.
Payton has long been an all-defense, no-offense guy, but after last season it’s clear the Warriors need someone who can create offense when Curry goes to the bench. It’s unlikely that GP2 will ever be a high-quality offensive player, but he’s learning how to run the team’s offense, and his jumper — he shot 3-for-4 from deep — is starting to come around. 13 points and 5 assists will surely make the Warriors happy.
Kuminga can be a force defending the rim
Just look at this!
Kuminga met the Raptors at the rim all night, and had it been a more veteran scorekeeper I think the Dubs’ rookie would have been awarded more than a single block in the stat sheet. He used his athleticism to pester rim attackers, but wasn’t overly aggressive or reckless. He blended his patience with his athleticism, and on more than one occasion looked a bit like Andre Iguodala.
Show the tape to anyone too high or too low on Kuminga
If someone thinks the Warriors reached at No. 7, and that Kuminga doesn’t have All-Star potential, show them the tape of this game.
If someone thinks that Kuminga should get the treatment that Wiseman got a year ago, and be trusted to play 25 minutes a night all season, show them the tape of this game.
Both can be true.