Jonathan Kuminga is emerging into a defensive force for the Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO — The Hornets have completely dissolved the Warriors’ 18-point second half lead. It was tied at 101 with just over three minutes remaining. owned by Charlotte. The ball went into the corner and he headed to PJ Washington.

Washington is a seasoned big shot. He fires his 3’s and hits them with competent clips, but the first step isn’t very explosive. He wanted space and in this instance tried to jab step away from his defender Jonathan Cuminga several times.

But Kuminga wasn’t giving him time to catch his breath. He’s laterally faster than Washington and increasingly aggressive, embracing his role as one of the Warriors’ go-to individual defenders. Kuminga got a little closer and more aggressive as Washington sent him some soft jab steps.Washington left the ball bare. Kuminga tore it up.

That steal was one of the most popular post-game topics after the Warriors wrapped up a much-needed 110-105 victory. Coming from his two loudest and most influential voices in the room, Kuminga’s defense quotes raise eyebrows.

“He looked like Andre Iguodala on that play,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s Andre’s style of play. I think it’s no coincidence that Andre has coached him all season and last year.”

“It was the will,” said Draymond Green. “It was ‘I’d rather have the ball than you.’ It was, ‘Our backs are against the wall. We’ve lost the lead. goes and gets the dunk he goes and grabs the traffic rebound he made every play to the end I think it all started with the play PJ Washington took the ball he was brutally treated.”

Kuminga played the entire fourth quarter. If he had Andrew Wiggins, he wouldn’t have. But Wiggins’ extended absence has opened up Kuminga’s potential, and thanks to his point-of-attack defense, he’s been able to grab a tighter hold of his spot in the rotation in recent weeks.

“We went with him on his defense,” Kerr said. “He’s playing really well in defense and defending LaMelo[the ball].”

“At the moment it’s the fourth quarter,” admitted Kuminga.

Kuminga found a gap in space for two huge cutting dunks in the final minutes. He was a 6-for-6 shooting.He also had a floater against Gordon Hayward in isolation with less than 90 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 5-point lead. Click here for the offensive clipAfter the Hornets called a timeout, Green began pushing Kuminga in celebration.

However, Green specifically mentioned big rebounds. The Warriors are a small team in desperate need of a controlled injection of athleticism. Kuminga belongs to his percentile of top NBA athletes and is starting to make a positive impact. Like the aforementioned defensive rebound, Mason slid over his Plumlee with his three minutes remaining to secure a crucial possession.

The ball has been shot 7 of 25 times. His six of those mistakes occurred in the dreaded fourth quarter. The last of them sealed Charlotte’s loss. It came after Klay Thompson missed a free throw, putting the Warriors up to his five. The ball shoved into the frontcourt with 10 seconds left and was looking for a quick score. But Kuminga has been chasing ballhandlers around for most of the night, and this past month of his.

Here is an example.

It’s an important development for the Warriors team, which lost one of the NBA’s best point-of-attack defenders this summer. Gary Payton II, who led his NBA in steals per 36 minutes, left a blank when he went to Portland. Donte DiVincenzo and Moses Moody have their strengths, but neither can be a hawk like Payton.

Kuminga isn’t all that veteran, but his physical skills are exceptional, and he seems to be embracing his bench role as the defensively obsessed Plague after being dropped from the rotation early in the season.

“He’s locked up now,” said Green. “I think it’s very impressive to see. It’s not that I didn’t think he was competent, but I could see the maturity and buy-in for the role. ‘Oh, that’s my role.’ That’s what I have to do.I do it better than anyone.I’ve seen his impact in the last few weeks.He pitches every point guard he rides.…Competitor As, lost his place in the rotation, what are you going to do to get it back? ”

Green’s words should not be taken lightly. When he talks about defense, he doesn’t use these kinds of platitudes very often. These were meaningful statements about a second-year wing he clearly believes has the potential to be an elite defender.

“It was great to see,” said Green. “His[improved]understanding on this side of the ball. He said it was very necessary for us because we haven’t guarded the dribble breakthrough very well.We haven’t been very good on the attack all year.He did it for us. I am changing.”

Kuminga treats the ball roughly and is dangerous when focused on individual missions. But for him to really emerge and continue to finish important games for the Warriors, he needs to improve further within the team’s concept, right?

“I don’t play defense with the team concept,” said Green. “I know most people think I am, but I’m not. If you do well enough, the team concept adapts around you. That’s what he shows.” You may not want him to lift so high that he lifts all the time, but if you’re causing havoc and it’s improving us and making your opponent’s attacks worse who’s gonna stop Would you say? If you are good enough and capable, the concept of the team adapts around you.”

It’s Green, one of the greatest advocates of a generation, throwing himself into the advocacy conversation about Kuminga.

“The (other) guys are learning,” Green continued. “You’ll hear[the coach]now say, ‘Hey, we’re doing this on screen.’ He’s too obsessed with the ball and I can’t get good reds (coverage). So, I’m going to interview with JK (that’s not true). It suits him. What he’s doing is enough for me to conform, as opposed to saying, “No, JK, I need to be in this deficit (press).”no he is very good That what we are trying to adapt to. Understanding the concept of teams is very important. he is learning he is helping He is doing what needs to be done on that side. But when he’s showing off the skill set he has on the other side of the ball, it would be silly to say, ‘Hey, I want you to do this. ”

This seems like a notable development.

(Photo of Warriors’ Jonathan Kuminga defeating Hornets’ Gordon Hayward: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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