Steve Kerr 'loved' Jonathan Kuminga's game in Warriors' Magic win

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Kuminga impressed Kerr in multiple ways in Warriors' win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors have greatly benefited from their G League affiliate being so close in Santa Cruz, and it showed Monday night in their 126-95 blowout win over the Orlando Magic.

On paper, the Warriors were expected to beat the Magic handily and that's exactly what happened. Golden State entered the fourth quarter with a 98-79 lead, which meant minutes for players like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and Jeff Dowtin, who were recalled earlier in the day. Nobody shined brighter than Kuminga. 

The moment the No. 7 overall pick from the 2021 NBA Draft entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter, he was aggressive and ready to make an impact on the win, regardless of how out of reach the score was. Even when he missed a few shots, his athleticism stood out, especially on this huge put-back dunk. 

"He's got that sort of shocking athleticism that's rare, even in the NBA where there's so many great athletes," Steve Kerr said after the win. "JK stands out. There's just a suddenness to his burst, whether it's catching and going or he had that tip-dunk where his head was next to the rim."

Kuminga played all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, while Moody and Dowtin both played four and a half. 

In his 12 minutes of action, Kuminga scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds. He went 4-for-7 from the floor and made one of his two free throws. 

"I thought his minutes were really good and I loved the way he played and prepared for the game. He's coming along. It's going to be a process for him, he's so young. As it is for most young guys, there's so much to learn. It's not possible for anyone at 19 to come in and really understand everything that needs to happen to win NBA games.

"This whole year really for him is just figuring all that stuff out and we're trying to help him with it, but he's doing a great job." 

The 19-year-old forward now has played 15 games in the NBA as a rookie, averaging 7.5 minutes and 3.4 points per game. His nine points Monday night tied his career-high. 

Down in the G League, Kuminga struggled with his shot at times but is using his athleticism to put up 18.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in four games with the Santa Cruz Warriors. He might not be getting as much run on the big stage as his draft counterparts, but he's receiving something much more valuable.

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"Andre Iguodala, Draymond [Green], Steph [Curry], Klay [Thompson] -- they're all really good mentors and they've all sort of taken JK under their wings and tried to help him along," Kerr said. "That's what it takes because, like I said, there's so much for these guys to learn.

"We have a very unique situation. It's very rare that the seventh pick in the draft goes to the team with the best record in the NBA. ... The flipside of him not playing as much as his colleagues who were drafted near him is he's learning in a winning environment and there's a lot of plusses in that regard."

Though it has been in flashes and short bursts, Kuminga has shown the NBA potential that made him the Warriors' top pick, and they can't wait to see what's next.

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