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Warriors fall to Nuggets in preseason finale, but youngsters flash potential

James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga flashed impact potential in the Dubs final preseason game.

Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors finished off their preseason with a 119-112 loss to the Denver Nuggets, but the Dubs gave their fanbase plenty to be excited about heading into the regular season. In the Warriors first game since Draymond Green returned to the team after punching Jordan Poole, Dub Nation got to see flashes from nearly every player on their roster.

In a preseason surprise, Klay Thompson returned to the floor on Friday night, playing his first official minutes of the season. Thompson and the Warriors had openly discussed Klay’s mental struggles with getting onto the floor this offseason, given his experience tearing his Achillies in an offseason scrimmage more than two years ago.

It was already a win that Thompson was getting back into game action on Friday, but it was hard to know what to expect. Instead of looking rusty or out of rhythm, Klay looked like he did last season. He was uber aggressive offensively, likely motivated by limited playing time, and looked like his usual self from behind the arc.

Both teams went back and fourth in the first quarter with the rest of the Warriors starters, including stars Steph Curry and Draymond Green looking a lot like the 2021-22 versions of themselves.

The second quarter, though, and really most of the rest of the game, wasn’t about any of the Warriors veterans. It was the Warriors highest picks in 2020 and 2021, James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, who stole the show.

Wiseman may not be one of the five most important players on the Warriors roster this season, but that could change rapidly this season. That’s the beauty of the Warriors current position. They should have the veteran depth to be a championship contender without their young prospects taking big steps forward, but have an opportunity to be even better if players like Wiseman have breakout years.

Wiseman’s hands are still a bit inconsistent and his decision-making will still look like the inexperienced player he is from time to time, but it’s hard to deny that he looks significantly better on both sides of the ball than he did as a rookie or even his G-League stints last season.

Every facet of Wiseman’s game has looked at least incrementally better than it did as a rookie. He’s forced fewer jump shots, but has shown improved touch. He’s been more patient offensively and taken advantage of the opportunities he’s received. He still commits more fouls than the coaching staff would like, but he’s also pairing that with more assertiveness as a rebounder and shot blocker.

Kuminga had been quiet this preseason. Kuminga’s ball-dominant style of play has always created tension between him and the Warriors offense. However, it’s an entirely different story when he embraces an off-ball roll. On Friday, Kuminga was at his best. He gelled perfectly within the offense in the dunker’s spot, but also was incredibly aggressive on the glass and defensively.

The Warriors have had far more drama this preseason than they wanted. Ready or not, they will start their 82-game regular-season schedule at 7:00 PM Pacific on Tuesday, October 18th, hosting the Los Angeles Lakers at the Chase Center.

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