That Jonathan Kuminga didn't make the initial Rising Stars Game roster was an oversight by the NBA and not an indictment of the Warriors rookie's talent.
That oversight was corrected Wednesday when the NBA announced Kuminga would replace Indiana Pacers rookie Chris Duarte in the game. Duarte will miss the event with a toe injury.
Kuminga's teammates, namely Klay Thompson, have been outspoken about the "tragedy" it would be for the 19-year-old wing not to be included in the game. While Kuminga was never bothered by the snub, he is looking forward to representing Golden State on Friday in Cleveland.
"It's a blessing," Kuminga said Wednesday night after the Warriors' 117-116 loss to the Denver Nuggets. "Most people don't get it. I mean, I wasn't in it at first. I got selected. I'm happy to be in it. I'm going to go out there and represent the team, and represent myself and my family and just have fun."
Kuminga has been getting consistent playing time over the last month and has made the most of his opportunity. Over his last 10 games, Kuminga is averaging 12.7 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent from the field.
The rookie's play has been good enough to earn a spot in the Warriors' playoff rotation, according to coach Steve Kerr. Although, Kerr joked he reserves the right to change his mind.
Kuminga's Rising Stars appearance is an important mile-marker for his NBA progress, acknowledging the progress he is making early in his NBA career.
But it's also meaningful for him to represent his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the continent of Africa.
"It's really big, especially for everybody back home," Kuminga said Wednesday about representing Africa. "From what I know, a lot of people back home, not just home but in Africa, whenever we play, a lot of people don't go to sleep. They are always trying to stay up and watch the game. Even if I got Steph on the team, most of them want to watch Jonathan. So, it's one of the best feelings having an entire continent cheering for you.
"So, being a rising star, that helped too. Everyone is really happy, especially with me making the Rising Stars and representing my teammates, my team, my family, and everybody back home. So, it feels good."
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Kuminga capped off the first half of his rookie season by scoring 12 points on five-for-six shooting in the Warriors' loss to the Nuggets.
The Warriors made the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft earn his minutes, and it has paid off both for Kuminga and the Warriors.
No matter how the selection occurred, Kuminga earned his spot in the Rising Stars Game and deserves to represent the Warriors in Cleveland.