Jalen Green

Jonathan Kuminga joining 2021 NBA Draft class is great for Warriors

Jonathan Kuminga joining 2021 NBA Draft class is great for Warriors

The Warriors aren't included in the Orlando bubble, reportedly don't have interest in participating in the still-to-be-confirmed Chicago bubble and likely won't play in another game until sometime in 2021 at the earliest.

And yet, Wednesday was a great day for Golden State.

That's because Jonathan Kuminga, who previously was ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2021 class, reclassified to the 2020 high school class Wednesday and will sign in the NBA's pro pathway program in the G League. The Athletic's Shams Charania was the first to report.

What does that have to do with the Warriors? Well, a lot can change between now and then, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that Golden State could select Kuminga in the very early stages of the 2021 NBA Draft.

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The Warriors, of course, received the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round draft pick as part of the Andrew Wiggins-D'Angelo Russell trade. If the Timberwolves' pick ends up being one of the first three overall selections, the pick conveys to the 2022 NBA Draft and becomes unprotected.

The 2021 draft class has long been viewed as far more talented than the upcoming 2020 draft class, for which the Dubs are guaranteed to have a top-five pick. Assuming the T-Wolves don't surprise and become a playoff team, the Warriors could have an extremely valuable selection in a loaded draft.

It just became more loaded Wednesday with Kuminga's inclusion.

Since the earliest the Warriors could pick in the 2021 draft with the Timberwolves' selection would be No. 4 overall, the more high-end prospects that join the class, the more likely Golden State is to have one of them fall in its laps. Kuminga, along with Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley are widely viewed as can't-miss prospects, and obviously, they can't all go within the top three.

[RELATED: How Jalen Green to G League impacts Warriors, 2021 draft]

So, if the Warriors end up holding onto Minnesota's 2021 first-rounder, it would appear they are in a tremendous position to add a prospect that undoubtedly would have gone first overall in the upcoming 2020 draft. And if they don't, but rather include it in some sort of a trade package to acquire an established star, the value of that pick just went up.

The Warriors are intent on returning to championship-contender status while simultaneously building for the future. Kuminga's reclassification can only improve their chances of being successful in that endeavor. 

Jalen Green's G League contract leaves NCAA with life-or-death decision

Jalen Green's G League contract leaves NCAA with life-or-death decision

Jalen Green did not kill college basketball. Rather, he compared NCAA disparities and NBA inducements and reached a logical conclusion that could open the door to its death.

Green’s decision to bypass the NCAA and opt for the G League makes him a pioneer, high-profile test case for the NBA and its minor league to provide a salaried alternative to the relative servitude that is college hoops.

If anyone should take this leap, it is Green, widely considered the No. 1 prep in the country. NBA agent Aaron Goodwin – who previously shepherded prep-to-pros clients LeBron James and Dwight Howard – also represents Green and, naturally, believes in him.

“The way I’ve done business for 29 years shows people that I have a great eye for talent and that I pick kids that can become great ballplayers, great people on and off the court,” Goodwin told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s in that mold.”

One day after Green agreed to his contract on Thursday, he was followed Friday by Isaiah Todd, another top-five prep taking the same route. Expect several others in the coming days and weeks, multiple sources told NBC Sports Bay Area Thursday and Friday.

This is precisely what the NBA had in mind 18 months ago when it created the G League Select Contract as “part of a comprehensive path” for elite preps to become professionals. The league altered its business model closer to those of MLB and the NHL, both of whom allow graduating prep seniors the option of entering the work force immediately after high school.

Hallelujah.

About time? Nah. Overdue.

Green, 18, spent his senior season at Napa’s Prolific Prep basketball academy, with Napa Christian High as its academic partner. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard, a Fresno native, averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the 31-3 Crew.

He has been compared to past and present NBA players, including the late Kobe Bryant, and also has drawn raves from the likes of Dwyane Wade. Green has worked with, get this, Stephen Curry and Luca Doncic.

With his senior year shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Green faced three options.

One, he could go to college – reportedly the University of Memphis – for one season and then declare for the 2021 NBA draft.

Two, he could follow the path of LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton, who spent last season playing professionally overseas. Ball reportedly earned less than $100,000, while Hampton reportedly earned much more. Both are eligible for the 2020 NBA draft.

Three, Green could turn pro on home soil by signing a one-year G-League contract worth more than the previously reported $500,000, according to multiple sources, and be eligible for the 2021 NBA draft.

Option No. 3 won, and It wasn’t close. Nor should it be. The G League program also allows for a scholarship should anyone going through the program decide to pursue higher education. Green’s parents left it up to him, and they agree with his choice, according to Goodwin.

“They realize he can’t lose,” he said. “If the NBA really wants to do this program right, and they really want kids to see how great it is to come to the NBA, how could they let this kid fail? They’ve got to put their entire machine behind not only this kid but this program, so they can show others that really believe they’re one-and-done . . . that they can come to the G League and hone your craft with the best we have.”

The movement was crafted by the NBA and the office of former G League president Malcolm Turner. Former Cal star and NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim succeeded Turner and now, with Green’s groundbreaking decision, the G League program is atop the mind of all future recruits.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Abdur-Rahim took note of Ball and Hampton leaving high school to play overseas and thought there had to be better way. Consider this their response.

Which puts NCAA in position to respond or surrender, and that monolithic organization can’t be pleased with either option.

The fair response is to share some of the multibillion-dollar pie currently divided among coaches, schools, conferences and the NCAA itself – everybody except the skilled laborers. They’re told a scholarship is pay, and to be careful who buys them a sandwich.

[RELATED: How Green's decision affects Kings]

There is plenty of money to go around in the NCAA sanctum, where rules are subjective and punishment is arbitrary, but there has been an avowed reluctance to share it.

If the NCAA surrenders, the college game will live on. It won’t thrive. It will be light on talent, revenue will start dropping and it will face yet another decision.

Meanwhile, let NCAA basketball consider its future. And let Jalen Green find a future that is everything he ever dreamed it would be.

Why Warriors' Steve Kerr, Kirk Lacob praise new NBA G League program

Why Warriors' Steve Kerr, Kirk Lacob praise new NBA G League program

Jalen Green -- the No. 1 high school prospect in the 2020 class, who took part in a private workout with Warriors superstar Steph Currry in late August 2018 -- announced Thursday morning that he was signing a contract to play in the NBA G League next season.

In the process, we learned details of a new program the NBA is launching.

On Thursday night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and executive vice president of basketball operations Kirk Lacob were asked about the news during separate radio appearances on KNBR 680.

"Until 15 minutes ago, I had never heard of him (Green)," Kerr said with a laugh. "I didn't know anything about this story. Not my department to know future draft picks ... I think it's good. I think this is a positive step. If the NBA can provide a better experience in the G League for players who don't want to go to college -- I think it's a great option.

"The G League has been getting better and better. The NBA has done a better job of sourcing it, funding it. And really every team has done a better job of improving their respective affiliates. I really hope that this becomes an option that players can take and it clears up some of the mess that exists now in the college game.

"The more options for the players, the better. All these guys deserve to travel whatever path they want."

On Friday morning, the G League secured a second committment to the program.

Isaiah Todd -- ESPN's No. 13 ranked high school recruit in the country, who decommitted from Michigan earlier this week -- will be teaming up with Green.

As G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

"We have kids leaving the United States -- Texas and California and Georgia -- to go around the world to play, and our NBA community has to travel there to scout them. That's counterintuitive. The NBA is the best development system in the world, and those players shouldn't have to go somewhere else to develop for a year. They should be in our development system."

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"This was one of the ideas that we had as a league -- how can we continue to build out a great minor league and development league, and really give players the best chance to succeed in the NBA?" Lacob said. "And we looked at leagues in Europe who are signing incredibly young players -- things that aren't even allowed with the labor laws in the US.

"It's really about -- if you're going to be professional -- building towards a professional career. I think this is a great opportunity for a lot of young players. I've said for years -- when we give out advice to players -- if you want to go into the draft or not, it shouldn't be about whether you're gonna be this pick or that pick. It's about whether you want to be a professional basketball player now or whether you love college -- that's what should matter.

"If you have enough belief in yourself, go and do what you want to do and eventually you're gonna make it. It's the second contract that matters more than the first.

"I think this is a terrific program. I don't think it's gonna be for every player ... we don't have a ton of details yet of how everything is going to work. But I think it's a huge, huge step in the right direction. We're giving basketball players more options and I think that's great."

[RELATED: Lacob acknowledges Warriors could trade down in draft]

It is great. It sounds awesome and it's only the beginning.

You'd have to assume it only will get better as the NBA puts in more and more resources to ensure its success.

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