The Golden State Warriors are still relishing in their return to the top of the NBA food chain this past June. They defied the odds and won their fourth NBA championship in eight seasons. One key member of the Dubs’ championship roster was the 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Kuminga.
The supremely athletic but raw Kuminga showed flashes of brilliance throughout the season. The talented novice also had the occasional brain fart that comes with being inexperienced. Those shortcomings are only magnified because of who he plays for and the playoff stage Golden State is always on. If he played for a cellar-dweller there wouldn’t be nearly as much scrutiny of his game.
Stephen A. Smith Questions Kuminga’s Attitude And Focus?
Kuminga’s name came up during a recent episode of ESPN’s “First Take.” During the segment, the show’s host, Stephen A. Smith, chimes in on some things he’d been hearing about Kuminga as it pertains to his “attitude” and “level of focus.”
“I’m telling you right now, I expect Moody and Wiseman to be significant. I’m worried about Kuminga. I’m hearing too many things about him off the court in terms of his head, the level of discipline he lacks, you understand? Some of the foolishness. I’m not getting into his personal business, I’m not saying nothing like that.
“I’m talking attitude, I’m not talking actions, I’m saying the attitude, the level of focus, commitment, determination, just putting your head down and doing the work. I’m hearing that he’s shortchanging the Warriors in that regard, and he’s got to get his act together, because I’m a Jonathan Kuminga fan.”
While Smith isn’t revealing his source of information, it’s interesting to hear him say that. From what we witnessed with Kuminga, he was a pretty mature rookie who played very well during a vital stretch of the season when Draymond Green was hurt and Klay Thompson had just returned from missing two and a half seasons.
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In a recent Instagram post, Kuminga seemed to be responding to Smith’s criticism. The Congolese star had this to say:
“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Did Smith Get That From A Draymond Segment On His Podcast?
Smith’s comments come on the heels of Kuminga participating in the NBA’s Summer League. At times he looked like the freakishly athletic specimen, and other times he looked lost or disengaged. That caused teammate and big brother Draymond Green to call the second-year player out on his podcast, “The Draymond Green Show.”
In a game against the Knicks, JK scored just three points on 2-for-10 shooting, going 0-4 from three with five turnovers. He looked very disinterested, and Green let him know how disappointed he was in him.
“I’m going to say this publicly, because I said it to his face. I thought Jonathan Kuminga was so, so, so bad in the game that I went to when they were playing the New York Knicks. I thought he was very, very bad. He didn’t look engaged.
“I was disappointed. When my OGs came to see me in Summer League, I’m bouncing off the wall. Your OGs are there. You want to destroy whoever’s in front of you because your OGs are there. It just didn’t feel like he had the pop. Because if he had the pop, there is no one in Summer League that can touch you.”
Even Kuminga said he’d never played worse in his basketball life, and vowed to make amends, which he did. For Kuminga to acknowledge his poor performance and meet it head-on shows some real maturity and growth. The very thing Smith claims he’s lacking.
He went for 57 total points and 17 rebounds total over the next two outings. So he got the message and definitely made amends.
Kuminga Role To Increase With Key Warriors Departures
When you win an NBA championship tough decision have to be made. The Warriors decided to let defensive stalwart Gary Payton II walk after the Blazers offered him the bigger deal. They also let stretch four Otto Porter Jr. walk. His insertion into the starting lineup in the NBA Finals with the Warriors trailing the Celtics 2-1 played a huge role in the series flipping.
Now Kuminga will be asked to provide help in both areas, and he’s more than capable. The Warriors hope he’s motivated to silence the critics.