Why Jonathan Guminga coming off the Warriors bench is the right move for now – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors' Chase Center was a very low-pressure environment Sunday afternoon. They had already decided to sit Stephen Curry against a poor Utah Jazz team and a Perth win before tipoff in the NBA play-in tournament.

The Warriors edged the Jazz 118-110. The game wasn't as close as the score, but it provided the perfect opportunity to get Jonathan Kuminga back in action.

Kuminga was the team's starting small forward before missing six games with bilateral knee tendinitis, but the Warriors were 5-1 in his absence. Therefore, coach Steve Kerr decided to bring Kuminga back off the bench.

Along with Andrew Wiggins and Curry, Care installed Brandin Podzimski and Chris Paul as starters, along with Trace Jackson-Davis, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

“The decision to launch the brand was based on combinations,” Kerr said. “With Steph out, we want to start Draymond and Trace for defensive reasons. If we start Brandin and bring Jonathan off the bench, I feel like it's a great combination.

Kuminga responded as the Warriors wanted. He entered with 6:14 left in the first quarter and immediately started attacking, constantly rushing up and down the court. He was active, productive and efficient.

“JK did a great job tonight,” Kerr said. “He looked bouncy and strong. I saw him work out yesterday and he had a great workout.

With 21 points in 27 minutes, Kuminga looked like a man proving his knees are fine — and he's looking to reclaim his place in the starting lineup.

There is no reason at this point to believe he will. or should.

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Kuminga did not feature in the Warriors' best starting line-up. In the Jackson-Davis center, Green and Wiggins up front, with Thompson joining Curry in the backcourt, they provide the level of interior defense needed to keep them in most games.

“Bringing Jonathan off the bench, watching him run the floor and attack the rim, it's a great dynamic coming off the bench,” Kerr said. “But we'll have to see. Once Steph comes back, we'll have to figure out how we want to do this because you know we felt good about JK starting about 30 straight games with Draymond at the 5.

“But given what's happened the last two weeks, I'd like to start Trace. If JK comes off the bench and plays like he did tonight, great. We'll find out.

So, what to do with gumminga? He can provide the first Klay Thompson offered in his month as a reserve. They're different players, sure, but both have stuff that demands considerable attention from opposing defenses.

It was Kuminga's sixth 20-point game. He is talented. And he doesn't seem to mind.

“I'm not worried about coming off the bench,” Kuminga said. “It's like coach always says, it doesn't matter. As long as you go out there and give it everything you've got, you're going to be there.

“I was more concerned with going out there and affecting success.”

Kuminga's 21 points came on 9-of-11 shooting from the field, a wonderful mix of spectacular and mundane. His four assists were welcome, but the most pleasing stat was his team-high 10 rebounds.

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That's notable because rebounding is the least consistent aspect of Kuminga's game. He knows because he's heard it from coaches and teammates.

He will get minutes regardless of how or when. Bench is the right call, at least for now.

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