Steph Curry knows Jonathan Kuminga’s Warriors role ‘will show’

CHICAGO — For 26 minutes Friday night in Chicago, the Warriors’ future was on full display as Jonathan Kuminga put on the best performance of his young career, scoring 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting while showcasing a wide range of skills in Golden State 138-96 beats the Bulls at United Center.

Kuminga’s athleticism and outburst are different, even at 19. It’s easy to watch Kuminga have a night like Friday where he attacks relentlessly on offense, protects the rim, shows his vision for the yard, and quickly advances the strip three to five and imagines Kuminga taking a path from Giannis Antetokounmpo to Fame .

But these warriors do not dream of tomorrow. They are firmly rooted in the present. So the question becomes, can Kuminga grow enough and become consistent enough to help these warriors in their title chase?

“It’s going to show,” Steph Curry said Friday after the Warriors win. “I mean it’s a bit hard to predict, but it’s also up to him to stay focused on what’s going to make him better, whether he’s playing 25 minutes, whether he’s in the G League, whether he’s comes in for minutes on the spot. That effort he showed tonight was amazing and he has to do it every time he gets the chance to play because every rep he gets is important for his development, for his confidence , to develop their skills.

“His game is interesting because you can kind of throw him out there with any formation for the most part and he can do what he does. It’s just effort and intensity to the end of the day for him. He’s so athletic, he’s got an amazing edge at what he does well and it shines when he plays hard.”

Kuminga did it all on Friday night.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft scored the Warriors’ first two baskets of the second quarter, the first on a reverse pick-and-roll with Curry. The Bulls defenders both went with Curry, giving Kuminga a clear run to the rim. Kuminga’s statement in the second quarter also included a nifty transition pass to Curry for an open 3-pointer, solid on-the-ball defense on DeMar DeRozan and a deflection of a pass from Lonzo Ball that led to a dunk in breakaway.

With the game out of control in the second half, Kuminga got an extended run to show off his otherworldly athleticism, including a huge block in the fourth quarter that was the exclamation point of his night.

The Warrior will continue to work Kuminga when appropriate. Coach Steve Kerr mentioned after Friday’s win over the Bulls that they asked Kuminga to work hard and use his athletic gifts to his advantage.

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But the Warriors leave Chicago at 31-11. They hold the second-best record in the NBA and just got Klay Thompson back after a 941-day absence. At this point, Kuminga is a wildcard with a ton of potential. The Warriors don’t need to rely on him. Anything he gives them is a bonus.

“It’s a lot of learning,” Kuminga said of his first NBA season. “I feel like I’m getting better. It’s a good thing that I’m going back there and feeling more comfortable. I’m getting the minutes I’m getting and helping the team to win.”

Still, it was hard to watch the Kuminga Show at the United Center on Friday and not see how it could play a big part when the lights are brightest.

But that’s a story for another day.

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