Explain One Play: Jonathan Kuminga, the defensive stopper

a Labor Day present: video deep dive into one of JFK's G-League games

A list of all Explain One Play articles and videos is at The new Explain One Play index.

Jonathan Kuminga was scouted as being lazy defensively. I did a close watch of one of his Ignite games and found this was not at all the case. Confusion and messing up on switches on first glance looks a lot like lazy indifference. But I think those are really different.

This video looks at Kuminga trying to lead an inexperienced defense to defend difficult plays like the Spain stack pick and roll, in the 2021.02.27 Ignite-Stars game.

I saw a good defender, who was even a leader on the court directing traffic. They had Kuminga guarding little point guards for half the game, and he did really well. They had him guarding small ball 5s for part of the game, so he had to play different roles on D in a way that Jalen Green did not and really no one else had to.

He guarded ball on pick and roll, he guarded screeners. He guarded rollers on stagger screens. He carried a heavier defensive load than any other Igniter did. He contested well and recovered pretty smoothly. He hustled throughout the game.

The big defensive issue I saw was communication on switches. Kuminga consistently had mix ups with #20 and #4 (Jalen Green) on who would cover whom. But I saw that from the whole Ignite squad. I don’t know how much prep time they had, but they definitely played like a team that hadn’t gelled on defense.

Short Version (free)

It’s 13 minutes long, so there’s plenty here for everyone. This video focuses on Kuminga’s trying to organize switches against the Spain stack pick and roll.

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Full Version (subs only)

This 31 minute epic covers Kuminga’s defense against the Spain stack PNR but also stagger screen pick and roll, and the fake handoff. In all cases, Kuminga showed coverage improvement from play to play.

If there’s demand, I’ll also assemble a movie on Kuminga’s offense in the G-League.

To watch this, you’ll need the subscriber password (click to get it).

Raw Game Footage

This is the actual video I watched of the game. You can enjoy it in all its raw splendor.


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