The Golden State Warriors layed the smackdown on the Detroit Pistons 102-86 last night in Chase Center. There was plenty to be happy about for Dub Nation, including a quality night from rookie Jonathan Kuminga who started in place of the injured Draymond Green.
In Green’s absence, we’re seeing Kuminga take advantage of the playing time, and in turn he’s becoming more and more valuable to the Dubs.
Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.
- Albert Einstein
One of the fascinating parts about living on this planet is ascertaining value. How do we value our time, our relationships, and even ourselves? What’s valuable to one person may be irrelevant to you and vice versa.
That’s why sports debates can be so fun (and maddening): invested pundits with varying degrees of credibility boldly making claims about the perceived value that players/coaches/GM’s bring to franchises.
The James Wiseman/Lamelo Ball debate during the 2020 draft rang that bell. How valuable would each player’s skillset be with the specific style the Warriors play? And how soon on their development timeline could they become any semblance of the missing puzzle pieces the Dubs were searching for?
The jury is still out on Wiseman, injury bug be damned. But the conversation revealed a lot about what the front office valued (standing pat and developing their young guys) contrary to what outside observers felt (trade assets for a superstar).
The perfect fit
One way I look at value for GSW is how smoothly a player can help them consistently replicate what their system demands.
For example: constant movement of players and ball is what has made the Splash Bros damn near unguardable. Last night Klay Thompson led the team with a season high 21 points last night while Stephen Curry added 18 points and 6 assists.
But those two guys alone aren’t enough. The Dubs need players around them to keep the machine humming whether they are on or off the floor. Swap Thompson out for Otto Porter Jr. and you get enough of a resemblance of floor spacing, passing, and wing size that in spot minutes OPJ can look like he’s about to go for 60 points on 11 dribbles.
Shooting and defending like that? Yeah, OPJ is valuable.
Which makes Andrew Wiggins HELLA valuable. He has the size and quickness to defend multiple positions, the finishing ability to put rim pressure on opponents, and the outside shooting touch to keep Golden State’s spacing at optimal levels. Right now he’s averaging 18.5 PPG on 48% shooting from the field, 42% shooting from beyond the arc.
For reference, there have been 21 times in NBA history that a player finished with these numbers or greater while hoisting at least 150 3PT attempts in a season. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Reggie Miller are on that list. Klay Thompson did it in the 2017-2018 season. Stephen Curry has done it three times: both MVP seasons and last year.
Wiggins is slotting right into that Splash Bros-level efficiency. He scored 19 points last night on 8-of-13 shooting (3-of-7 from beyond the arc) with 3 steals. He fits into the system gloriously and his value is being punctuated on a nightly basis as he heads toward an All-Star berth.
Breaking the mold
But there’s another way I look at value for this team. That would be adding a dimension that they didn’t already have without sacrificing efficiency or defensive force. That’s the dream with Wiseman; an athletic giant who can play above the rim and do freakish things no one else on the roster can do. Here’s an example of that against the Pistons last season:
Ideally, the Warriors would develop or add a talent who could fulfill both archetypes: the optimal system fit who has the physical gifts to call his own number sometimes and do something jaw dropping.
Folks, I believe Jonathan Kuminga has a very good chance of being that guy.
He can shoot…
He can make passes in traffic…
He can also apparently be everywhere on the court at once, from defending a pick-and-roll at the three-point line to leaping back and snaring the rebound.
If he continues to develop like this, the Warriors will look like geniuses…AGAIN.
Is there an easy way to search substack to find my old comments here about Kuminga?
IIRC I wanted Giddey, and when he was gone, I was not thrilled about the inevitability of a Kuminga choice. I was glad they didn't take Mitchell, but not all that excited about Kuminga, sort of a "we'll see" attitude. That changed with his first summer league performance, and I've been on board since then.
Also apropos nothing, I'm so glad substack stopped screwing around with adding white space. It was unreadable for a few days there.
The King … of statpadding: