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Wiggins-Kuminga pairing is Warriors’ biggest question mark

Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga are Golden State’s most athletic players. But can the team succeed when the two of them share the court?

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2022 NBA Finals - Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics
Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga, in happier times.
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Jonathan Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins are both key players for a Golden State Warriors team that’s light on size and athleticism. But unless the two of them can share the court together, it looks like the team might have to trade one of them to get a more versatile roster.

Both Wiggins and Kuminga are good perimeter defenders and are unique among Warriors in their ability to get to the hoop - and to get to the foul line. Only Steph Curry shoots more free throws than Kuminga and Wiggins, who are averaging 3.8 and 3.0 free throws per game, respectively. Kuminga has the most dunks on the team with 33, which account for one-seventh of his field goal attempts. While Wiggins only has a dozen dunks, he’s the only non-center on the roster with double-digit dunks.

But the two wings also have similar weaknesses. Wiggins is shooting 31% from three-point range, and Kuminga is right there with him at 30.9%. They’re not particularly rebounding, with Wiggins grabbing 6.1 boards per 36 minutes and Kuminga only slightly better with 6.4 rebounds per 36. Despite their foul-drawing abilities, they’re both shooting under 70% from the free-throw line, negating some of that value.

Tim Kawakami was blunt about their terrible numbers together:

In 106 minutes on the floor together this season, the Wiggins/Kuminga duo has a minus-21.4 net rating, worst among any of the 48 two-man combinations that have played 100 minutes or more together for the Warriors so far this season. And that’s by a lot — the next-worst heavily played tandem is Wiggins and Draymond Green, who are minus-9.4 in 256 minutes.

The Warriors would likely love to be able to play the two together, but they’ve got to either shoot better, or rebound better - ideally both. There’s more space in potential rotations if they can realistically play power forward, since the Warriors have plenty of small guards, Draymond Green can play center once he’s back, and Klay Thompson is essentially a small forward now. But Kerr is almost always going to lean on veterans over a 21-year-old, so the pressure is higher on Kuminga.

Wiggins is signed through 2026, and has a player option for 2026-27. He’s going to be complicated to trade, unless a team really believes in him after a change of scenery. Meanwhile Kuminga is extension-eligible next fall, and makes a very tradeable $6 million this year.

Thompson’s shooting immediately improved once Brandin Podziemski replaced Wiggins in the starting lineup. Could matching Wiggins and Kuminga with stronger shooters help their synergy? That’s what Steve Kerr needs to find out, or we’re likely to see Kuminga playing for someone else after the trade deadline in February.

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