Might Jonathan Kuminga be an X-factor in West finals?

That Kuminga’s readership may even be in the identical stratosphere as Curry’s speaks to the rookie’s burgeoning celeb. Maybe it ought to come as no massive shock, then, that I’ve obtained questions at each part of those playoffs about Kuminga’s position: When will he play? Why would not he play extra? Will he return to the beginning lineup?

After logging a DNP in Sport 6 of the Western Convention semifinals, Kuminga may very well be poised to crack the conference-finals rotation towards the Mavericks. Under is The Chronicle’s newest Warriors mailbag, which leads with why Kuminga could be an element on this collection:

@kanewman: Can Kuminga stick with Luka?

With Gary Payton II (elbow) and Andre Iguodala (neck) sidelined by accidents, the soldiers do not have many palatable choices for guarding Luka Doncic. Andrew Wiggins will defend Doncic a lot of the recreation, however what about when Wiggins sits? Clay Thompson is just not the all-defensive staff stopper he as soon as was.

It is attainable Steve Kerr offers Kuminga an opportunity towards Doncic in Sport 1. Although Kuminga nonetheless has quite a bit to study defensively, he’s massive, robust and quick-footed. I believe he might a minimum of do an honest job of staying in entrance of Doncic. But when the Warriors are within the bonus, they’re going to wish to keep away from this matchup. Kuminga could be a bit foul susceptible towards artful scorers.

@vincent93661651: Do you assume the Warriors can preserve the core of Curry, Thompson, Inexperienced and Looney with Wiggins, Poole, Porter and Payton subsequent season, or is the luxury-tax burden too massive?

I’ll spare you all of the salary-cap minutia and get proper on the backside line: It is extremely unlikely that the soldiers will deliver again all these gamers subsequent season. Kevin Looney is anticipated to signal a multi-year cope with Golden State this summer time value roughly $6 million a yr, and the Warriors wish to signal Jordan Poole to an extension that may very well be round 4 years, $100 million.

Mix that with the truth that Draymond InexperiencedCurry and Thompson are as a consequence of earn a mixed $122.7 million — $3.5 million over the whole projected wage cap — in 2023-24, and Golden State must be even handed with the remainder of its roster choices. As I’ve written earlier thanessentially the most logical approach for the soldiers to chop wage is to commerce Wiggins earlier than he hits unrestricted free company in summer time 2023.

However even when Golden State strikes Wiggins shortly after this season, it might have a troublesome time bringing again Otto Porter Jr. and Payton. These two are anticipated to command nicely greater than minimal contracts in free company this summer time. And given how a lot cash the Warriors have tied up of their core, they may have points spending a lot on position gamers like Porter and Payton.

Of the 2, I might say that Payton is barely extra prone to return than Porter. The Warriors see Payton as a possible franchise constructing block, and the damaged left elbow he suffered in Sport 2 of the Western Convention semifinals ought to make him extra reasonably priced this summer time. Having to overlook video games at this stage of the season is a misplaced alternative for somebody who would have been the Warriors’ finest defender on Doncic, performances that might have boosted his worth in free company.

@UWaryr: With the groups being extra small-ball oriented and accidents to GPII and Andre, does Moody have an opportunity to play?

I doubt it. If Moses Moody was going to earn significant minutes in these playoffs, he already would have.

Kerr is understandably reluctant to play rookies in high-stakes video games. Regardless that Kuminga was downright good at instances towards the top of the common season, he has struggled to carve out a constant area of interest this postseason.

Odds are Moody, who’s far much less bodily gifted than Kuminga, will proceed to be relegated to rubbish time. Kerr has proven that he prefers utilizing Damion Lee to spherical out the rotation.

@perdidonoespac1: What beginning lineup will in all probability give the Warriors the very best offense-defense ratio in Sport 1?

I anticipate Golden State to begin Looney simply to match up with Mavericks middle Dwight Powell. However odds are that this collection will probably be small-ball heavy, with Powell and Looney enjoying sparingly.

In different phrases, the beginning lineups won’t matter a lot. Inexperienced will see loads of time matching up towards Maxi Kleber at middle. There may be instances when the Mavericks go even smaller, rolling out a lineup of Doncic, Jalen Brunson, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie.

On the off likelihood that Dallas goes all-in on small ball and begins Kleber rather than Powell, the Warriors can be smart to begin the three-guard lineup of Wiggins, Inexperienced, Curry, Thompson and Poole. I anticipate Poole to have a giant collection. With Curry commanding a lot defensive consideration, Poole ought to have room to make performs and knock down photographs.

@BagOfWords: How is GPII doing? Any likelihood he performs within the Western Convention finals?

Payton has been getting in some conditioning work, and the soldiers have but to rule him out for this collection. Nonetheless, Kerr known as it a “lengthy shot” that Payton would return at any level within the West finals. I would not wager on it.

@DubNation_PH: Who would the Warriors match up higher towards within the Finals: the Warmth or Celtics?

If I am the Warriors, I might choose to face the Warmth over the Celtics. Boston has been the very best staff within the NBA over the previous few months. And if anybody can devise a defensive recreation plan to comprise Curry, it is in all probability the Celtics.

However I have to say, I used to be totally impressed by what the Warmth did in Sport 1 on Tuesday — significantly within the second half. Jimmy Butler has in all probability been the very best participant in these NBA playoffs not named Doncic. I simply assume that in a better of seven collection, the soldiers’ firepower and depth can be an excessive amount of for Miami.

@DrDreNoCal: Can we please have Looney play a minimum of 24 minutes a recreation this collection? Thanks.

I perceive the sentiment, however it’s unlikely. As I discussed earlier, this initiatives as a small-ball-centric collection. Although Looney needs to be within the rotation, I might be shocked if he averaged greater than quarter-hour per recreation.

A part of what makes Looney so worthwhile is his means to remain prepared. He was a relative non-factor for a lot of the Western Convention semifinals, solely to corral 22 rebounds and be the Warriors’ Sport 6 MVP once they wanted him.

Who is aware of? Maybe Golden State must rely once more upon Looney’s measurement, expertise and basketball IQ in some unspecified time in the future on this collection.

Ought to Curry solely try 10 photographs a recreation if the Mavs are smothering him like final time, or can we work more durable and take sketchier photographs?

It is no secret that the Mavericks plan to do all they will to cease Curry, which ought to liberate Poole, Thompson and others for open appears. I do know it is cliché, however the warriors will do no matter offers them the very best likelihood to win. There’s a world the place Curry averages lower than 20 factors per recreation on this collection, and Golden State nonetheless makes the NBA Finals.

However after being comparatively quiet within the first two rounds (by his lofty requirements), I get the sense that Curry is raring to reassert himself on a nationwide stage and ship some playoff masterpieces. Do not be shocked if he forces the problem on this collection and scores 40-plus factors in a number of video games.

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle employees author. E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @Con_Chron

Leave a Comment