What Jonathan Kuminga told Steve Kerr in an exclusive post-sitdown conversation – NBC Sports Bay Area & California

The rise of Jonathan Kuminga has been one of, if not the, biggest stories for the Warriors during the 2023-24 NBA season.

The 21-year-old showed signs of being ready to make the leap earlier in the season, but was restricted to a reserve role early on before one game – and a tough conversation – changed Kuminga's trajectory in his third year.

Kuminga was benched for the remaining 18 minutes of the Warriors' 130-127 loss to the Denver Nuggets on January 4 at Chase Center after scoring 16 points in 18:57 on the court, a decision that didn't sit well with Golden State. Fans and former lottery picks alike.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the next day that Kuminga had “lost confidence” in Kerr and that his benching against the Nuggets was “the straw that broke the camel's back.”

Sensing his young star's growing frustration, Kerr invited Kuminga into his office for a chat later that week. Hey ho! Jake Fisher reported to The Athletic In his last story.

The conversation was productive, and Kuminga shared with Fisher what he had told Kerr in that private meeting.

Kuminga told Yahoo! Sports: “I just told him how I felt, he told him how he felt. Things he wanted me to do more to get more playing time. After that, just going out there and enjoying playing with him. He's coaching me harder. Sometimes you don't understand Things even reach your eyes.

“Someone wants great things for you, and that's why he trains you harder. I think that's what it was like, he trains me harder every time because he wants great things from me. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be there.” “On this field. I wouldn't have that kind of spirit to go out and play.”

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Kerr felt that Kuminga was not as focused on the field as he should have been and that his interactions with his coach since the special meeting had lit a fire under him.

“He felt like I wasn't tied down,” Kuminga told Fisher. “In basketball, every possession is important, so I wasn't tied down to certain possessions. He told me, 'I want you to do the little things that will help our team.'” He keeps repeating that to me every time. We talk about it.

“People thought I was switching gears. It's not, nah. I had to keep going, keep growing every day. Lock in more. It's not the haircut. I had a mindset that was already set.”

Kuminga, even with Draymond Green returning from an indefinite suspension, has remained a mainstay in the Warriors' starting lineup and been a catalyst for the team's recent success leading up to the NBA's All-Star break.

Kerr and the Warriors will rely on Kuminga now more than ever as they look to climb the Western Conference standings and secure a top-six seed in the playoffs.

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