Jonathan Kuminga’s big improvement unlocked Warriors’ new Death Lineup

of golden state warriors 10 wins and 3 losses in the last 13 games. During this period, Jonathan Kuminga averaged 17.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 57.9 percent from the field.

These two events are no coincidence.rear Report a complaint The third-year forward, who joined head coach Steve Kerr from Kuminga, is getting more minutes.

Kuminga responded to this new opportunity by playing the best basketball of his career and perhaps saving the Warriors’ season.

How Jonathan Kuminga made the leap

In many ways, Kuminga plays basketball like a lightweight version of Zion Williamson (both in terms of production and weight). Kuminga uses his gifted power, size, and speed to be a threat in the paint.

Since Jan. 30, Kuminga ranks fifth in the entire NBA in scoring in the paint (162 total points). In this exercise, we only pursue the best of the best.. For Kuminga, most of these chances are drives (first clip in the montage below), rolls (second clip), cuts (third), putbacks (fourth), transition forays (fifth), A quick post-up (sixth clip) brings it to us. ).

When Kuminga isn’t scoring in the paint, he’s getting into the paint and forcing defenders to foul. He is averaging 5.8 free throw attempts per his 75 possessions (92nd percentile per dunk & three). Given Kuminga’s efficiency around the rim (70.5%, 89th percentile), his two free throws (72.2%) are even better offense for the team.

The tools that make him dangerous on offense also make him very useful as a defender. Kuminga ranks in the 83rd percentile among defenders according to Defensive Estimated Plus/Minus (DEF EPM), perhaps the best metric on the market.

Kuminga is big and strong (6’8, 210 pounds) in a favorable matchup. Size and physical properties. This helps him break the offensive and defensive glass and defend larger opponents.

However, Kuminga’s biggest charm when defending is the pogo stick at his feet. Rim protection is an important part of defense (some would argue it’s the most important part). And while he can’t be the team’s primary rim protector, he doesn’t need to be (since he’s a power forward). All he needs is to provide adequate secondary rim protection, and he’s done a great job in recent hot stretches.

How Kuminga changed the Warriors

Since taking the league by storm in the mid-2010s, the Warriors have established themselves as an offense with perimeter shooting. They didn’t get to the rim as much as other competing teams, but that was okay because they were way ahead of them from beyond the arc.

Now, the entire league has evolved to meet the standards the Warriors set for the league at the height of its dynasty. In other words, Golden State’s weakness caused more damage. Before Jan. 30, Golden State was 29th in the entire NBA in points in the paint per 100 possessions (per As a result, their offensive power was slightly above average (11th in offensive power rating).

Now, with Kuminga rushing in the paint on a nightly basis, the Warriors rank 13th in points per 100 in the paint and seventh in offensive rating since Jan. 30.

The reason Carr has endured the team’s below-average rim rate (save for a three-game competitive advantage) all these years is because he was worried about how adding offense would affect the team’s rebounding and defense. be. That’s why Kerr dutifully started the game with a five-man lineup featuring Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.

But with how much NBA offenses have improved since Golden State’s dynasty began, Looney’s strengths (rebounding and inside defense) now outweigh his weaknesses (scoring ability and speed).

(Side note: Looney’s value as a player is declining not because traditional big men are being phased out of the game. In fact, today’s best big men are almost the same weight Just like they did in the late 1990s. They’re just better offensively than Looney these days. )

Kuminga will improve the Warriors’ scoring and speed while providing most (if not all) of the value that Looney brings in terms of rebounding and paint protection. For the season, Kuminga ranks in the 55th percentile among forwards in block percentage (per Cleaning the Glass). And as a team, the Warriors are still in the 51st percentile in offensive rebounds and 50th percentile in defensive rebounds during Kuminga’s minutes. So even though they don’t use that double-big lineup as much, they’re still floating on the glass.

To simplify this spout into something short and sweet, Kuminga gives the Warriors an element that their double-big lineup doesn’t have, but doesn’t give up all of its benefits.

Kuminga’s recent performance has allowed the Warriors to unlock the latest version of their bragging rights. “Death Lineup” This year, when franchise icons Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Green shared the court with Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins, the Warriors were +8.6 per 100 on 296 non-garbage time possessions (65th percentile).

This iteration of the Death Lineup includes adjustments that make it even scarier for the rest of the League. If we substitute Thompson, Plug rookie Brandin Pozemski With this lineup, the Warriors are +21.2 per 100 (89th percentile) with 307 non-garbage time possessions. These numbers are statistical footprint The best five-man lineup from past winning teams.

Kuminga still needs to improve

While all this talk about Kuminga’s growth and the new death lineup is great (especially considering how the first part of this team’s season went), the Warriors are still not without their flaws.

Kuminga is a good physical athlete and could also be a paint scorer. But he’s still a bad outside shooter (16th percentile in 3-point percentage) and a bad passer (13th percentile in 3-point percentage). Evaluation of successful candidates) Weak handle (29th percentile in forward turnover rate). And despite his size and verticality, Kuminga doesn’t have high athleticism or an affinity for off-ball defense and rotation (as evidenced by his 35th percentile steal rate). .

This generation’s Death lineup also has more flaws than the previous generation. Podzemski is a better driver, playmaker, and off-ball defender than Thompson (and he plays with more energy). However, he isn’t that great of a shooter/spacer and doesn’t boast as much size as other splash brothers. That means the Warriors are leaving something on the table regardless of who they put in the lineup.

The frontcourt trio of Kuminga, Green and Wiggins has had tremendous success together. However, they are a below-average spacing group compared to other contending teams’ frontcourts, so the fit could be uncertain in the playoffs.

How much will Golden State’s lack of size and space derail the Warriors this spring? That remains to be seen. But for now, the new look of the Kuminga-enhanced (yet still flawed) Warriors, Outer Circle title candidate this postseason.

That wasn’t their peak. But that means the dynasty will continue to fight the next day.



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