What Jonathan Cuminga told Steve Kerr in a private post-benching conversation on NBC Sports Bay Area & California

Jonathan Cuminga's ascension is one of the biggest storylines for the Warriors heading into the 2023-24 NBA season.

The 21-year-old showed signs of being ready to step up earlier in the campaign, but was restricted to a reserve role before a game — and a difficult conversation — changed Kuminga's trajectory in his third year.

Guminga was benched for the remaining 18 minutes of the Warriors' 130-127 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 4 at the Chase Center after scoring 16 points in 18:57 on the court, a matchup for Golden State. Fans and former lottery picks.

The Athletic's Shams Sarania reported the next day that Kuminga had “lost faith” in Kerr and that his benching against the Nuggets was “the straw that broke the camel's back.”

Sensing his young star's growing frustration, Kerr invited Kuminga to his office for a chat later that week. Yahoo! Sports' Jake Fischer reported In his latest feature story.

The conversation was fruitful, and Kuminga shared with Fischer what she had told Kerr in that private meeting.

“I told him how I felt and he told me how he felt,” Kuminga told Yahoo! After that, go out and enjoy it, play for him. He trains me hard. Sometimes you don't understand things until you see them in your eyes.

“Somebody wants big things for you, and that's why they train you hard. I think that's it, every time he trains me hard because he wants big things from me. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here. On this court, to go out and play this kind of thing for me. There will be no spirit.”

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Kerr felt that Kuminga wasn't as focused on the court and his interactions with his coach since the personal meeting had lit a fire under him.

“He felt like I wasn't locked in,” Kuminga told Fischer. “Basketball, every possession is important, so I'm not locked into certain possessions. He told me, 'You have to do the little things that help our team.' He keeps telling me that every time we talk.

“People think I've changed gears. It's not, no. I have to keep going, grow every day. More locking. It's not a haircut. I had a mindset that was already set.

Guminga has been a mainstay in the Warriors' starting lineup despite Draymond Green's return from an indefinite suspension and has been a catalyst for the team's recent success leading up to the NBA All-Star break.

Kerr and the Warriors will rely on Kuminga now more than ever as they climb the Western Conference standings and secure one of the top six playoff seeds.

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