The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals. While this isn’t a surprise to many, as they were one of the best teams in the NBA this year, the potency of a strong supporting cast consisting of role players, bench players, and rookies, however, was a surprise.
In fact, in addition to the exemplary play of the Warriors’ “Big Three,” the rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody have clearly overperformed and have even turned their play up a notch in the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors are four wins away from completing their revenge tour and silencing the critics who didn’t believe in them after their last finals appearance saw a depleted Warriors team fall to the Toronto Raptors in 2019.
They were a beat up, injured, and fractured team that didn’t have the manpower or firepower to keep up with the Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors in 2019. This surely isn’t the case now.
The homegrown star-studded core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have once again led the Warriors to the ever-familiar NBA finals. Their supporting cast has been stellar, with the likes of young studs like Jordan Poole, the aforementioned Moody and Kuminga, Kevon Looney, and Gary Payton II.
Golden State wasn’t the most popular pick to advance out of the loaded Western conference to the NBA Finals. Moody and Kuminga, whom the Warriors general manager Bob Myers predicted earlier in the year would show up and make a huge impact on a Warriors playoff run, have turned out to be the difference.
“I do think those guys will have some moments in the playoffs,” Myers said. “That’s great experience for both those guys.” Myers said on the 95.7 The Game back in March.
Moses Moody’s Come Up
Myers was correct in his prediction, and throughout the playoffs both rookies have had their moments and have shown the ability to show up big at times. Moody saw his minutes per game steadily increase with every series the Warriors won. The rebound machine started out logging 4.2 minutes per game and ultimately ending the series against the Dallas Mavericks playing 12.8 minutes per game.
According to multiple reports and as evidenced by the increase in minutes per game during the playoffs, Moody has earned himself a rotational spot in the NBA Finals.
The former Arkansas shooting guard, the 14th overall pick, has averaged 4.3 points per game in the playoffs and will look to make an impact for the second team for the Warriors during the NBA Finals.
— NBA (@NBA) May 27, 2022
Kuminga Makes A Mark
Jonathan Kuminga was taken with the seventh pick in the first round and has seen significant improvement during his first season, averaging just over 10 minutes per game in the playoffs.
A 6-foot-8 wing, Kuminga did pretty well on the defensive side being a good rotational defender. He also averaged seven points per game throughout his playoff debut.
The Warriors once again seem to have aced their draft class this year, and it’s looking more apparent every series that they have some dogs in Moody and Kuminga.
Under Kerr and the Warriors’ tutelage, the rookie tandem are a part of a strong young core with the breakout of Jordan Poole and the inevitable return of 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman.
Bob Myers knows that acquainting rookies with the playoffs and the finals comes with struggles, and he acknowledges that.
“The hardest thing for them as rookies is figuring out when you’re playing, when you’re not – finding a rhythm, finding a groove that they’re comfortable with,” Myers said in March. “And that’s been the toughest thing.”
But regardless of the inconsistency, there’s no better veterans to have guiding you and helping you gain playoff success and experience than Curry, Klay, and Draymond, who are some of the smartest players in the game. At the end of the day, GS’s trio of all-time greats always seem to put the newbies in position to win.
The future and present for the Warriors is bright. The team the Warriors are building should be able to contend for years, and with Moody and Kuminga they may very well be leading the Warriors to playoff success down the line.