Quick watch of Jonathan Kuminga in G-League & open thread
Where is the defensive slacker I was promised??
Here is my collected live commenting of my close watch of one of Kuminga’s G-League games. This was right after he was drafted, and before his Summer League debut. That explains why I was so surprised about his good attributes.
Specifically, it was this game:
I’ll share detailed videos with my commentary and play breakdowns later. For now, here are the comments.
I’m going to watch a whole Kuminga game. Pray for me.
To be completely honest, I had watched some Kuminga highlight reels earlier and they hurt my soul, so I figured I would not watch more film unless he got drafted. And we’re here.
And, yeah, I had a bad attitude about it to start and really didn’t want to do it. Finally I selected the first random Ignite game I could find in complete form on YouTube. We’ll watch the whole thing.
Okay, I’ve only gone through the first five minutes, but this is actually a positive experience. Kuminga is locking up Yogi Ferrell, a legit NBA point guard. I haven’t reached the legendary endless buffet of midrange heat checks yet
I’m at 9:00 in Q2 and so far, Kuminga has been excellent. He’s the primary defender of the small point guards at the point of attack. He’s been active, even the leader on defense. He’s screwed up a few switches, which is human. I am impressed so far.
No bad shots (I don’t count missing three point-blank shots as bad) so far. He’s used his strength to get inside position multiple times in the post. I know the bad shot selection is coming, but so far, he’s played well and within the offense.
Whew, just finished talking through a full watch of Kuminga’s game against the SLC Stars. I don’t know how it got to 3 hours… have to edit this down to human size and share.
I acknowledge his occasional tunnel vision, but it wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe. It didn’t show up until halfway through Q3. And he made numerous plays for other people. When people rotated to stop his drives, he often looked for the open man.
And yes he clanked jumpers, hard.
He set screens… they didn’t knock people to the ground, but they were real screens, not the Kevin Durant / David Lee style pose-and-slip type. When he was off-ball, he consistently cut to the basket when his man turned his head. He was engaged throughout.
He rebounded, but most of them were uncontested… he used athleticism to get to a couple. I think boxing out is out of fashion now (the thinking is that you should just go get it), so for better or worse, he wasn’t doing a lot of boxing out.
My biggest takeaway: I was led to believe he was a lazy defender and I completely disagree with that. 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. It was clear that the coaches thought he was a key defender. His own coaches had him guard everyone, and the Stars arranged plays to force Kuminga off the ball. 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.
Also, messing up on switches on first glance looks a lot like lazy indifference. I think those are really different.
I didn’t mention the highlight alley-oop, that he often beat everyone downcourt in transition (while playing honest defense, not cherry picking) and that he drew a bunch of fouls, so he scored even with his jumper not falling.
So, I can see Kuminga getting some time. I’m way more intrigued than when I began watching.
I’m suspecting GSW first tries Kuminga in a 3, 4 role as a defensive stopper. Then on O, they’ll have him in Wiggins/Oubre sets, where he gets the ball on simple high handoffs and creates near the elbows, or maybe Paschallish isos (I hope not). I’m guessing JK’s screening skills are very low, so I’d go more for the handoffs than screener in the pick and roll.
Interesting comment by Jarrett Jack, who was Kuminga's teammate on Ignite:
“The Ignite was his first time playing against a scheme defense. He’d never really seen it before. So, while he’s going to go shoot 1,000 jump shots every day, or whatever, he has to make sure he’s working on the cerebral side too. That’s what usually separates guys.”
The thing I'm looking for in training camp / preseason is how Kuminga plays when not the primary ball handler. I want to see how well he cuts backdoor and how well he can screen on and off-ball, and if he ends up being a ball stopper if the ball gets swung around to him.