Jonathan Kuminga's NBA debut came in garbage time during the Warriors' 103-82 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, but that didn't temper the excitement of the fans at Chase Center in San Francisco.
When Kuminga checked into the game with 6:04 remaining in regulation and the Warriors leading by 30 points, the fans in the building roared with anticipation. Every single time he touched the ball over the final six minutes, they started to cheer, hoping he would do something to impress them.
Kuminga was understandably hesitant in his first NBA action and was passive on the first few Warriors possessions. But after four minutes, he finally settled in and got on the scoreboard.
Juan Toscano-Anderson made a behind-the-back bounce pass to Kuminga on the right wing, and the rookie nailed a 3-pointer for his first NBA bucket.
Kuminga finished with three points on 1-of-4 shooting with one steal in six minutes of action.
After the win, coach Steve Kerr told reporters that the team gave Kuminga the game ball, which, incredibly was handed to him by Steph Curry's young son, Canon.
"It was just fun to see them out there," Kerr said during his postgame press conference. "Fun to give Jonathan the game ball for his first NBA hoop. He was obviously a little rusty, a little nervous out there as you'd expect. But he has not practiced with our team for the last three weeks, for the most part. So he's kind of starting over, starting from scratch. So he's a little behind, but that's to be expected given the circumstances."
Kuminga missed the end of the Warriors' preseason slate and the first five games of the regular season due to a strained right patellar tendon suffered on Oct. 6 against the Denver Nuggets.
After being cleared to practice last weekend, Kuminga worked with the team all week leading up to Saturday's game. On Friday, Kerr said there was a possibility that the 19-year-old could make his NBA debut and with the Warriors leading comfortably, there was a chance to get his feet wet.
"It felt great," Kuminga told reporters after the game. "I was waiting for this moment. Everybody was waiting for this moment. And then I see the crowd going crazy, waiting for me. So, it felt great being out there."
While Kerr believed that Kuminga was nervous, the rookie said otherwise when asked by NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole.
"I don't really get nervous about the game anymore," Kuminga said. "It don't matter. I don't know, I just don't feel nervous. I was just happy to be out there."
The six-minute stint against the Thunder was just the beginning for the 2021 lottery draft pick. As Kuminga works with the team more in practice, Kerr likely will find more chances to put him in the regular rotation. Golden State has high hopes for the 6-foot-8 forward, and if he's not nervous in his NBA debut, that bodes well for both sides.