SAN FRANCISCO — Three games into Draymond Green’s suspension, the Warriors have mostly gone small in their starting lineup. Rather than insert third-year wing Jonathan Kuminga, coach Steve Kerr has gone with veteran guard Chris Paul into his starting five each of their past two games.
Kuminga, still only 21, has been left to fight for minutes with the rest of the Warriors’ reserves, a rotation Kerr said runs 12 deep.
“Every night is going to be a little bit different. We’re going to go with whoever gives us the best chance to win,” Kerr said. “That’s going to be different guys unless there’s separation within the group. So far I haven’t seen that separation. A lot of guys are playing well but nobody’s separating themselves from the pack.”
Kuminga made his first and only start of the season in the first game of Green’s suspension and put up 21 points in his most efficient shooting performance of the season. Playing a season-high 26 minutes, he also matched his season-high with six rebounds.
But Kuminga’s minutes have only decreased, 20 on Saturday night and 18 on Monday, while he was supplanted in the starting five by Paul.
“I think JK’s doing well. He’s been very responsive to coaching. He’s had a good approach. He’s had some good games for us,” Kerr said. “More than anything, we’ve got a deep team.”
Kuminga is averaging career-highs in points (11.9 per game), field goal attempts (9.7) and trips to the foul line (4.3).
“I’m feeling good. I’m excited every single day. I’m blessed to be here in my third year. It’s actually going (better) than people think,” he said. “Just being around, I feel more comfortable. I feel like I’ve been here for (so) long that I know every play. That just makes me feel comfortable and makes me want to be here even more. …
“I’m not even worried about Draymond coming back because Draymond and I play at the same time and play well.”
Moses Moody, drafted seven picks after Kuminga, has similarly had to fight for playing time despite taking strides in his third year. Before tipoff Monday, Kerr acknowledged that Moody “deserved” more playing time but that there weren’t enough minutes to go around.
Moody, also 21, sounded like a philosopher while providing perspective for their situations.
A fool looks for happiness in the distance, while a wise man grows it under his feet.
“So instead of just saying it’s gonna be better in the future, a wise man is going to look at the situation he’s in and try to make the best out of it,” Moody said. “That’s something I try to live on. … There’s a lot of guys on this team that could be playing more. Me being able to value the 17-20 minutes I get is being able to appreciate those and maximize those is something I can learn from. Rather than sit up here and be mad about my 15 minutes and then I get 30 minutes next year. Well, since I was in here pouting all year, now I’m not ready for those 30 minutes, and now I don’t know how to maximize 30 minutes.”