It was always ridiculous that Golden State Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga was left out of the Rising Stars Game at All-Star Weekend. NBA assistant coaches chose twelve rookies to play in the game in Cleveland on Friday night, and somehow Kuminga wasn’t one of them. But after Chris Duarte of the Indian Pacers suffered a toe injury, the snub was corrected, and Kuminga has been added to the game as an injury replacement.
The 19-year-old Kuminga started the season on the bench, but thanks to his defense and unstoppable rim attacks, he forced his way into the rotation, and now, the starting lineup. For the season, he’s averaging 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, but in the month of February, Kuminga has scored in double figures in every game, and those averages have jumped to 15.7 points and 4.6 rebounds, and he’s even added 1.7 assists. He also regularly guards All-Stars like LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, and even Chris Paul, while spotting minutes at backup center despite being a 6’7” teenager.
Klay Thompson has been stumping for Kuminga to make the team all month. “To be 19 and make the impact he does, it’s a travesty he’s not in the Rookie-Sophomore game. That just doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know what the NBA was looking for in that one,” he said. Obviously Kuminga has impressed his teammates, but Klay also appreciated that he got off his Instagram Live and got in the gym.
Kuminga joins Team Payton, coached by another Bay Area legend, Gary Payton, aka “Gary Payton I” or “Old Glove.” He joins LaMelo Ball (not playing since he made the Existing Stars Game, aka the regular All-Star Game), Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes, Davion Mitchell of the Sacramento Kings, Jaden McDaniels (Minnesota Timberwolves), Ayo Dosunmu (Chicago Bulls), and Scoot Henderson, who plays for Walnut Creek’s own G League Ignite, just like Kuminga last year.
There’s four teams, including one coached by Rick “Show A Little Bit Of Class” Barry - the other coaches are James Worthy and Isiah Thomas - competing in a three-game tournament to crown a champ, probably because the old Rookies vs. Sophomores format wasn’t confusing enough for viewers. Kuminga’s team may be the favorites, especially since Anthony Edwards is on Team Isiah, and even in an exhibition game, any team coached by Isiah Thomas is going to fall apart. We’ll see if Rick Barry makes Evan Mobley shoot all his free throws underhand. And James Worthy’s team, led by Jalens Green and Suggs, plus Cole Anthony, Josh Giddey, and Tyrese Maxey, is essentially a box of Whoops! All Guards! cereal, and eminently dunk-on-able.
So congratulations to Kuminga, who hopes to continue in the winning Warriors tradition of Rising Stars MVPs, joining Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson. Plus Andrew Wiggins won the trophy as a rookie in 2015, which to us means that Kuminga is a lock to start the All-Star Game in 2029.
Finally, please enjoy the most disrespectful moment in Rising Stars history, when J-Rich passed the ball to himself off Carlos Boozer’s head.