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JK, Moody, Wiseman reaching full potential will require patience

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In the era of impatience, where we prioritize instant analysis and immediate gratification, the Warriors are asking their fans to embrace the archaic concepts of time and tolerance.

Their putative young core -- Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman -- is going to need the rest of the summer, a full 2022-23 season and more to become remotely close to all they’ll ever be.

That much was evident Tuesday night in the Las Vegas Summer League game against the Boston Celtics. The Warriors fell behind by 11 in three minutes and by 21 in less than eight before waging a comeback that allowed them a moderately intriguing finish to a 103-92 loss at Thomas & Mack Center.

“A lot of learning,” Warriors summer league head coach Jama Mahlalela assessed to reporters in Las Vegas.

“In the second half, in that fourth quarter specifically,” he added, “there was a lot of fight and energy -- and some moments when you can see how they’re going to be great. It maybe wasn’t great today, but as a coach, when you watch the film and analyze the game, they each bring such unique things.”

There is Kuminga’s sheer speed and power, matched by few in the NBA. There is Moody’s feel for the game and ability to fire from deep. There is Wiseman’s elite athleticism, soft shooting touch and 7-foot-1 length.

There were times when all of those attributes were on display.

 

And there were times when Kuminga, Moody and Wiseman looked like three teammates only vaguely familiar with each other -- not entirely unlike some very early growing pains of the Stephen Curry/Draymond Green/Klay Thompson trio of nearly a decade ago.

“When they figure out how to play really well together,” Mahlalela said, “it’s going to come together nicely.”

There were flashes of what someday might be. There were spasms of chaos, too, which is no surprise insofar as this was the first time all three appeared in a game -- of any kind -- together.

“We’re just out there to build the chemistry,” Kuminga said. “I know it’s going to come at some point. We’re going to get to know each other. With Draymond and Steph and Klay, it didn’t take them one game to actually get to know each other.

“Us playing together, being around, it’s going to help us to get better and get to know each other well.”

After a poor first half, Kuminga was a revelation in the second, dropping 21 points, on 8-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep, in 13 minutes. He was the most impactful player on either team down the stretch.

He finished with a game-high 29 points.

Wiseman was solid in spurts, scoring only seven points but grabbing seven rebounds and blocking three shots in 21 minutes. In a sign of good health, he played eight minutes in the fourth quarter.

Moody was assertive on offense, forcing his way to 7-of-8 shooting from the line but was only 6-of-19 from the field, including 2-of-9 from distance. He contributed four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

The moments of disarray, mostly in the first half, were notable on offense as each of the three seemed eager to find his way. The Warriors had only six assists and offset them with six turnovers.

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It was on defense, though, where the disarray was more acute. There were missed rotations and late rotations, and a couple instances of utter breakdown. Boston exploited the many open looks by shooting 55.8 percent from the field in the first half, including 52.9 percent beyond the arc.

The second half was more palatable, as the Warriors, led by the Kuminga/Moody/Wiseman trio outshot, outrebounded and outscored the Celtics. 

“You put those three, and add Jordan Poole to it, that’s a pretty lethal lineup of point guard play with 2, 3, 4 and 5 with Wiseman,” Mahlalela said. “They each are special and unique.

“As we figure those guys out, and then add Jordan to the mix with summer workouts and into the preseason, it will be [fascinating] to see what our second unit could potentially look like.”

The key word is “potential.” It resides mostly in the imagination. Getting from there to reality, whatever that might look like, is going to take a while.

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