Kuminga carries chess & checkers box for Klay + more of what we learned about the Warriors from Minnesota
I posted the above compilation video earlier today. Here are some of my off-the-beaten-path observations as the Golden State Warriors spent the day in snowy Minneapolis, with no practice the day before the game because of the Milwaukee-Chicago back-to-back, then yesterday starting with morning shootaround and the Minnesota Timberwolves at night. Think of this as a companion piece to the video above.
Steve Kerr going over game film with Jonathan Kuminga: I don’t recall the last time Kerr did side-by-side film study with any particular player. Usually it’s an assistant coach such as Jama Mahlalela. Why would Kerr do this? I’m not sure. Maybe to let Kuminga know that he cares about his development? Maybe there was something Steve saw in the Wolves’ scouting report that he felt he could deliver to JK better than the staff could? It’s probably a cool thing for a rookie to get personal attention from The Man of the Squad. Icymi, most of the teachings, according to Kerr and confirmed by Kuminga recently in pregame and postgame interviews have been about JK sprinting down the court as much as possible, a la Shawn Marion (see last video in this set):
The absence of Stephen Curry (hand, flew back to the Bay after the Chicago Bulls game with James Wiseman) and Gary Payton II (back spasms, was not seen in player intros) subtracts a lot of boisterous joy: There’s not enough behind-the-scenes footage of morning shootaround and pre-tipoff rituals to prove this, but I have to think the get-togethers haven’t been quite the same, as Curry and Payton are two of the loudest players on the Warriors, with the other being Draymond Green, of course. One of the courtside clips I found showed Andrew Wiggins initiating the offense and throwing the ball off of Kevon Looney’s face. That alone epitomizes this aberration of not having Curry for a game (per the latest injury report, Steph should be available vs the Detroit Pistons), as well as this new phase of Green being absent at least until the end of January with that reported disc issue.
Wiggins shooting with Nemanja Bjelica: I believe this is a calculated workout group as instructed by one of the assistant coaches. Both Wiggs and “Beli” used to play for the Timberwolves. Or maybe they just stuck together on their own.
Otto Porter has had some solid Draymond-like stats as the starting power forward, but they are still very different players: Just goes to show you how Dray’s value really can’t be measured by a boxscore. Also, Juan Toscano-Anderson seems to have fallen in the depth chart after the three-turnover game at the Memphis Grizzlies, coinciding with the rise of JK. However, I still think Toscano-Anderson is good enough as a plug-and-play veteran guy to have him start for one of the home back-to-backs coming up after the Pistons game (Indiana Pacers, then Houston Rockets), as well as the road back-to-back (Houston then the San Antonio Spurs). In other words, I don’t think Kuminga should start in Draymond’s spot. That’s way too much responsibility for a rookie, especially if Steph is playing.
Wiggs pregame chatting with Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell dapping it up with Klay Thompson pre-tipoff was cool to see: I have to think everyone is happy where they are, speaking specifically re Edwards and D’Lo, and there’s tremendous respect for each other.
Looney played great even though one glance of the boxscore would tell you that Karl-Anthony Towns dominated: Looney held his own despite being greatly undersized in comparison to KAT, during the first half and starting the third, before the Timberwolves’ bench blew away the Warriors’.
JK is getting that “0.5 Basketball” offense and that’s pretty impressive for a 19-year-old: Even if all he did in the clip that I showed was read the defense and pass the ball off after quickly deciding there wasn’t an opening to attack, that’s within the framework of Kerr System and it’s exciting to think of where he’ll be next year, or the year after that.
Jordan Poole was spotted taking a vocal leadership role in the huddle at a timeout: Poole is, imo, undoubtedly a pillar of this franchise as Steph, Klay and Dray pass the torch over the next few years. He’s ready and he wants it. Also, he has the right personality. My only complaint is that he hates doing media, but maybe that will change over time. It already has, gradually.
Klay certainly did not look affected by the loss in the postgame interview: He even smiled a lot. He’s really reached the peak of his prime where (coming soon, at least, not so much now) his physical and mental prowess are converging. Of course, he wasn’t happy on TV heading to the last timeout before Kerr waved the white flag, but he seems to have a firm grasp of the big picture.
The large-sized chess & checkers set has to be on purpose: One look at Amazon and you’ll find plenty of suave-looking chess sets designed for travel. But no, Klay has JK carrying around the clunky big box kind you find on the shelves of Target. This also brings to mind the time when Wiseman forgot Steph’s poker chips last season. According to Wise, “Klay lit his ass up”:
That’s all of my commentary from the Minny video I posted at the top of this article. Do you have any other observations from the video or the game? Let me know in the comments! 👇
Note: coming up next is an article with bonus video from Minnesota, for paid subscribers.
Note II: also coming up is an update on the Klay celebration raffle. We have two winners already but I’ve been slow to post the pictures of the prizes (very sorry about that and thanks for your continued patience).