The glut of young lottery picks on Golden State’s roster posed some interesting questions for Steve Kerr and Warriors’ brass regarding playing time and role for the Warriors’ trio of lottery picks coming into the season. Some of those questions were momentarily avoided due to Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman being unavailable to start the season, but those questions are starting to become relevant again as the youngsters work their way back into action.
On Monday afternoon it was announced that James Wiseman has been cleared to be a full participant in Warriors practices again.
That’s good news for both Wiseman and the rest of the Warriors as he continues to be on track to return to game action early in the season. Wiseman needs all the on-court experience he can get – he hasn’t been able to play in a ton of meaningful games over the last few seasons and the center position is widely considered to be the toughest position for younger players to fully grasp.
Fortunately for the Warriors, they haven’t had to face any of the league’s top centers so far this season but a couple of the bigger centers they’ve gone up against have had their way. Ivica Zubac had a season-high 14 points in a season-low 17 minutes against the Warriors and Steven Adams had 12 points and 7 rebounds in his 21 minutes against the Warriors in their lone loss of the season. The Warriors notoriously like to play small, but sometimes you need a big that can bang inside with the big 7 footers’ of the world, and with Wiseman out, they’ve been lacking that option.
Another injury update that came Monday afternoon was that Damion Lee, who was absent with a bruised shoulder in the Warriors win on Saturday against Oklahoma City, was a full participant in Monday’s practice and is expected to be available Wednesday when LaMelo Ball and the Hornets come to town. Lee has been one of the keys to the team’s early-season success and will be much needed against a talented and hungry Charlotte team.
Jonathan Kuminga made his return to the lineup on Saturday night in the Warriors’ 103-82 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kuminga played just six minutes in his NBA regular-season debut and posted a stat line of 3 points, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers on just 1-4 shooting in his brief stint. Player debuts can be funky due to the array of emotions a player can be going through in their first meaningful NBA appearance, and they can be even funkier when their debut comes in garbage time. Nothing drastic can be taken from six minutes at the end of a blowout win, but Kuminga showed fans why he’ll likely spend most of his time this season in Santa Cruz with the Warriors G-League affiliate.
Golden State as a whole seemed to be forcing the ball Kuminga’s way hoping to get him his first NBA points and kick start his career on the right foot, but Kuminga did struggle in his short time on the court versus Oklahoma City. Again, the sample of six minutes is to be taken with a grain of salt, but it was clear in those minutes that Kuminga is still extremely raw as a player and while he has a solid foundation for an NBA player, it’s going to take some time to get him there and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Calm Before The Storm
It’s not too often in an NBA schedule that a team only plays two games in a week but that’s how the first week of November worked out for the Warriors. They’ve got a pair of home games this week against Charlotte (5-3) and New Orleans (1-6) as their 8-game homestand continues. Charlotte is a resilient bunch and with Kelly Oubre Jr. making his return to the Bay Area, they won’t be lacking any motivation to come in and steal a win at Chase Center.
New Orleans will come in shorthanded as they are still without star Zion Williamson, and this game can be looked at similarly to Golden State’s recent meetings with the Thunder. New Orleans is clearly outmatched but the Warriors can’t overlook their opponent like they did when they visited Oklahoma City. With the game at Oklahoma City still being relatively fresh in Golden State’s minds’, look for Stephen Curry and company to come into Chase Center Friday night and put the Pelicans away early as they prepare for five games in eight days heading into the weekend.
The Warriors will start next week with a back-to-back against the Rockets and Hawks before finishing their homestand later in the week and embarking on a 4-game road trip back east.
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