Times-Herald (Vallejo)


- By Alex Simon

With Andre Iguodala likely out for at least the first game of the next round and possible for more, the Warriors may have to count on a rookie.

Golden State is high on Jonathan Kuminga and sees him as a big part of the team's future. But now, the Warriors may have to count on the 19-year-old in the present, too.

In the seven-year run of playoff berths that started in 2013 and included five consecutiv­e trips to the NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019, the Warriors didn't really use rookies — after the first year.

Now, the Warriors were a veteran-heavy team by the time

they added Kevin Durant to their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Iguodala, so there wasn't much floor time to spread to rookies. But a few have carved out a spot in the rotation even still, and Kuminga may be adding his name to that list.

After seeing just late-game minutes in Games 1 and 2 against Denver alongside fellow rookie Moses Moody, Kuminga missed all of Game 3. But in Games 4 and 5, he saw second-quarter action, including some time guarding Nikola Jokic. Might that be an indication that he'll be part of the rotation going forward?

Here's a look back at the early years of the run and the impact that any Warriors rookies have had in the postseason:

2013 — HARRISON BARNES, FORWARD, FESTUS EZELI, CENTER AND DRAYMOND GREEN, FORWARD >> The young Warriors' first stint in the playoffs heavily featured all three of the rookies they selected in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Like Kuminga nearly a decade later, the Warriors took Barnes with the seventh overall pick, but unlike Kuminga, Barnes started every game he played in both the regular season and playoffs and played nearly 38 minutes a game in the postseason.

He was solid, too, averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Barnes scored 24 points in Game 2 and 23 in Game 5 against Denver, then added nights with 26 (in Game 4) and 25 points (in Game 5) against the Spurs.

Ezeli, the 30th overall pick in 2012, continued to perform sufficient­ly in his role as a backup center, averaging 11.2 minutes a game in the playoffs. He averaged two points and 2.5 rebounds per game and made three starts.

But it was Green, the secondroun­der taken 35th overall, who stepped up when David Lee was hurt and shined for the Warriors. Green's minute average jumped from 13.4 in the regular season to 18.6 in the playoffs because he performed so well, averaging 5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and nearly one block a game.

Green's best performanc­es helped close out the Nuggets to win the core's first series together, tallying 13 points, six rebounds and four steals in Game 4 and 16 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6 — both Warriors wins.


Neither Nedovi (30th pick in 2013) nor Kuzmi (52nd pick in 2012 who didn't come to the Warriors until 2013) played outside of garbage time in the Warriors' firstround loss to the Clippers. 2015 — JAMES MICHAEL MCADOO, FORWARD >> An undrafted rookie out of North Carolina, McAdoo also only played during the playoffs when the Warriors had a sizable lead. 2016 — KEVON LOONEY, CENTER >> The Warriors took Looney with the 30th overall pick in 2015 and had hopes that his hip injury would be healed in time to play in the second half of the season and contribute as a depth center. But after playing in just 21 minutes across five games, the injury flared up again and Looney had surgery to repair the torn labrum in his hip, missing the rest of this season and the entire 2017 playoffs, too.

Unlike the other draft picks since 2014, though, Looney has remained with Golden State for his entire career so far and has carved out a seemingly perfect role with the Warriors — and is now a vital piece of their puzzle. 2017 — PATRICK MCCAW, GUARD >> After drafting McCaw 38th overall in 2016, the Warriors carved out a nice backup guard role for the rookie, who averaged 15.1 minutes per game in the regular season and 12.1 in the postseason. He even started three times and appeared in 15 of the 17 playoff games during the first of back-to-back championsh­ips, averaging 4.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

2018 — JORDAN BELL, FORWARD >> Taken with the 37th overall pick in 2017, Bell found a rotation spot as a springy backup forward, playing 14.2 minutes a game in the regular season and 10.2 in the playoffs. He was particular­ly vital late in the Western Conference Finals against the Rockets, grabbing rebounds and playing solid defense to help the Warriors win two potential eliminatio­n games.

 ?? NHAT V. MEYER — BAY AREA NEWS GROUP ?? Golden State Warriors' Jonathan Kuminga (00) dribbles against Denver Nuggets' JaMychal Green (0) in the second quarter of Game 4of the team's NBA basketball first-round playoff series at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo.
NHAT V. MEYER — BAY AREA NEWS GROUP Golden State Warriors' Jonathan Kuminga (00) dribbles against Denver Nuggets' JaMychal Green (0) in the second quarter of Game 4of the team's NBA basketball first-round playoff series at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States