Just about every time Jonathan Kuminga steps on the court for the Warriors, the 19-year-old does something to open eyes or drop jaws or simply show why Golden State selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
With every NBA minute Kuminga logs, it's becoming evident that he will play a role in the title race to come and that his future is incredibly bright. In short, the athletic wing has it. That's clear to one Wardell Stephen Curry.
"You can see the bright spots and just how they are built in terms of their competitive nature, how bad they want to win and how much they enjoy basketball," Curry said Tuesday after the Warriors' 89-86 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Chase Center when asked about traits he can identify that lead to successful careers."People take that for granted these days. Talented, physical specimens that have just coasted through different levels, a lot of them don't really like the game and like to put that work in. So you try to watch out for that for the most part.
"The NBA is different because you can come into the league with a certain role or certain look and that can change pretty quickly in terms of you sustaining yourself over years. So, not really worried about the Xs and Os. It's about how you approach the game, put in the work, how you approach it mentally with your focus and intentions, like what we see from both our rooks and even [James Wiseman], throw him in there too.
"For sure, you got to continue to build and earn that every single day," Curry continued when asked if Kuminga had that approach. "I give him a compliment and don't take his foot off the gas pedal."
As for Kuminga's on-court exploits, Curry believes the rookie got some valuable time late in the loss to the Nuggets. Steve Kerr inserted Kuminga into the game with 31 seconds left and the Warriors trailing 88-84. After Andrew Wiggins scored to cut the deficit to two, Otto Porter Jr. stole the ball and dished to Kuminga who went right at Nuggets center Nikola Jokic at the rim to try and tie the game. Jokic blocked the attempt, but Curry liked that Kuminga is getting playoff-like experiences at this point in the season.
"I mean, you can tell how he's built," Curry said of Kuminga. "He is going to attack, he is going to play his game and he has got confidence in himself, which you love. These are great experiences, great reps. That could be like a playoff situation where based on matchups, based on reads, he could be out there in the big moment.
"You never know what's going to happen the rest of the season."
Curry also is interested to see how Kuminga, who has played well of late, responds after a rough outing vs. the Nuggets in which the rookie was 3-for-6 from the field but missed seven free throws.
"I think more so for him it's just to get over that feeling that he had in the first quarter, I think it could be good for him in terms of dealing with a tough stretch and staying confident in yourself because that's all you can do in this league," Curry said." You're going to go through pretty much everything at some point.
"Excited to see how he bounces back."
Kuminga and the Warriors will get another crack at Jokic and the Nuggets on Thursday night at Ball Arena.