Though he played only one season with the Warriors, a piece of Jarrett Jack’s heart remains in the Bay Area. He knows his dreams of a reunion, maybe as a backup point guard, are unlikely. Meanwhile, he’ll watch from afar and with particular interest.
The bond with Golden State teammates of yesteryear – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – remains, but what now piques Jack’s curiosity is the rapport those three make with another former teammate.
“He has an opportunity to be one of the top two-way guys in the league,” Jack told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “He has the length, the athleticism and the wingspan to be disruptive on defense. Offensively, he’s still learning how to go about his business on the perimeter. He played a lot of (center) in high school, so he’s used to playing in the trenches. But if he brings that motor to the perimeter side, he’ll be a force.
“JK’s a tremendous athlete, has the strength to get into those ‘Kawhi (Leonard) areas,’ like the foul line, the dotted lines and top of the key. He can get to those spots and elevate over people.
"He has a tremendous ceiling. And with the guys he’s around, he’ll be insulated and can focus on one or two things and be effective playing a part in winning basketball.”
Jack, 37, was speaking from the Bahamas, where on Saturday he’ll lead his Big3 team, Trilogy, into the championship game against Rashard Lewis and the 3-Headed Monsters. Jack dived into Big3 ball a couple months after his turn with the G-League Ignite.
That’s where he became teammate and mentor of Kuminga -- and a trusted pre-draft research source for the Warriors, who liked what they saw of the 6-foot-7, 220-pound teenager and also what they heard from Jack, who spent 13 seasons in the NBA.
“We were only there for 31 days,” Jack said, recalling the G-League bubble in Florida. “You can’t really evaluate a guy in 31 days. He was going to bump his head a little bit. He may continue to bump his head. A rookie wall is longer than 31 days.”
The NBA season extends almost six months, followed by a two-month postseason. The Warriors definitely expect to be in the playoffs, and they also expect Kuminga, who turns 19 next month, to contribute.
Jack believes Kuminga can, and will, help Golden State as a rookie.
“The only thing I preached to him was to never turn his ears off,” said Jack, who next season will try his hand at coaching as an assistant with the Phoenix Suns. “As frustrating and as tough as it may be at times, always be willing to listen and learn. That’s the only way he’s going to get better. He has the talent. Once he mixes talent with know-how, that’s when he’s going to really improve.
“The Ignite was his first time playing against a scheme defense. He’d never really seen it before. So, while he’s going to go shoot 1,000 jump shots every day, or whatever, he has to make sure he’s working on the cerebral side too. That’s what usually separates guys.”
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That’s where Golden State’s team leaders come into play. Though Kuminga plays with a visible hunger, he’ll be intensely coached by members of the revamped player-development staff. But his daily routine likely will be influenced by Curry, Green and Thompson.
“Draymond will be vocal, Steph is a source of inspiration and Klay sets an example of just handling your business,” Jack said. “JK has to know: “I can’t leave the gym early if Steph and Klay are there for three hours. That looks bad. I can’t not know my assignments, because if not, Draymond is going to hold my feet to the fire.”
The Warriors have invested heavily in Kuminga and love everything they’ve seen so far. After his Summer League play, the vibe is upbeat. They believe he can be great.
His future, however, will be decided mostly by his determination and ability to apply personal and professional lessons all youngsters learn. Kuminga had a good tutor in Jack, and he’ll have a team of tutors once training camp opens this month.