It’s always interesting when a team as talented as the Warriors picks in the lottery. A majority of lottery picks are essentially handed a chunk of playing time right from the beginning of their careers, but with the Warriors in pursuit of another championship, playing time isn’t handed to just anyone. As Bob Meyers said during a summer league interview, it’s going to be tough for a pair of rookies to crack the rotation on this team but not impossible.
The good news for Warriors fans is that Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody aren’t your typical pair of rookies; Kuminga already has pro experience spending last season with the G-League Ignite and Moody is considered by many to be an “NBA ready” prospect.
However, I’m not confident that Kuminga will play much of a role for the Warriors this season, but that is by no means a knock on who he is as a player. It’s more of a testament to the depth the Warriors possess at the forward spot.
Kuminga Battling Through Forward Log Jam
When you look at who Kuminga will be competing with for minutes – Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter Jr, Andre Iguodala, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Nemanja Bjelica – it’s easy to see how scarce minutes will be. Wiggins is coming off what is widely considered his best season as a pro. Iguodala is aging, but I don’t see much of a reason why he can’t play the same role he played for the Warriors during his last stint in the Bay Area. Porter Jr, who has struggled with injuries in recent years, is also likely to be ahead of Kuminga in the rotation as he’s a guy who has shown in the past he can be a “3 and D” player at the highest level.
That leaves Kuminga battling for minutes with Toscano-Anderson and Bjelica. Toscano-Anderson carved out a decent-sized role last season, and although he may not get quite as many minutes as he did last season, I think he’ll still find himself on the court every night. Bjelica on the other hand, should get spot minutes as a shooter and possibly when the Warriors are going through a scoring drought, but other than that I don’t expect to see him on the floor a whole lot, and if he is, that does not bode well for the Warriors.
Most of Kuminga’s minutes will likely come from other players being in foul trouble, or if the Warriors choose to have some of their players on a load management schedule, he could find some minutes then, but I just have a tough time envisioning a scenario where he’s getting minutes consistently night in and night out this season.
It really might just get to a point where Kuminga is the odd man out and the Warriors may, at some point, decide his time would be more useful in Santa Cruz with the Warriors G-League squad. Which again, is no knock on Kuminga.
I can’t stress enough how impressed I was with Kuminga over the course of summer league play. Kuminga impresses me most on the defensive side of the ball. He’s far ahead of where most rookies are at at this point in their young careers. He has his flaws, but he absolutely has all the physical capabilities and the motor you need to be a successful NBA defender. He’s a 6 foot 8 freight train, with a 7-foot wingspan, and he hasn’t even turned 19 yet!
I think the Warriors have found themselves a star in the making with Jonathan Kuminga, but unfortunately, with the way their roster is currently constructed and the expectations the Warriors have for themselves, I think he struggles to find consistent minutes in the rotation in his first season.
Moody Handed Golden Opportunity?
As for the other highly touted lottery pick, Moses Moody, I do see him finding his way into the rotation. With his ability to shoot the ball and the lack of depth the Warriors have at the guard position, I just think he has a better shot to be in the everyday rotation. This is interesting because I was actually more impressed with Kuminga in the summer league than I was with Moody, but admittedly, my expectations for each of them played a big part in that.
One of the big reasons I glamoured over Moody during the pre-draft process was that when watching him in college, he consistently created havoc because of his length and instincts. Whether it be in the passing lane, guarding the ball, or challenging shots, he excelled pretty much everywhere on the defensive side of the ball. Not to say he didn’t do those things over the course of summer league play, as he did have his fair share of good moments, he just struggled more than I expected he would.
To start the season, Moody will be competing with Damian Lee, Mychal Mulder, and Jordan Poole for minutes at SG. Mulder may not even end up making the final roster, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Steve Kerr opted to start Poole and have another capable shot creator on the floor with Stephen Curry. However, my guess is that Poole comes off the bench in a Lou Williams-Esque role as the 6th man, which would leave Moody competing with Lee to be Curry’s backcourt mate (until Klay Thompson returns of course).
Moody is going to be able to contribute to the rotation as long as his shot translates even somewhat close to the way it looked in college and summer league. If he can knock down open threes consistently and carry his weight on the other end of the court, he’ll find himself getting some serious playing time. My guess is that Lee is the Warriors’ opening day starter next to Curry as he’s been a pretty consistent shooter since joining the Warriors back in 2017, and I think his experience will allow Steve Kerr to trust him a little bit more than the rookie come October.
Moody could find himself getting around 20 minutes per game, as he can also move up and play the 3 for the Warriors if needed, and I think if he plays well enough, he likely leaps ahead of Lee in the rotation even when Klay Thompson makes his return.
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