[Editor’s Note: This has been sitting in our Drafts for a bit, that’s my fault. But as it’s JK’s birthday today, it’s time to release it from the vault! Hey that rhymes…]
First off, take everything about Summer League with a grain of salt. The games are sloppy, consisting entirely of teams who have had barely any time to practice and play together and they heavily feature teenagers with high usage and lots of mistakes. It’s also a small sample size in general, so looking too closely at shooting percentages is only worth so much. In short, it’s a situation designed to highlight iso scorers who can get buckets without working within a team concept, (see Cam Thomas this year), and second-year players who have a big leg up in terms of reading the game. With that said, it’s the only NBA tape we have on the Warriors’ two lottery picks this year, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, so when projecting and guessing about what we have in the two kids, we do with what we’ve got. Here’s what I saw from their five games each (all clips are pulled from the game vs. OKC).
17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.6 steals and .9 blocks on 39.7 FG% 27.3 3P% 65.7 FT%
Kuminga is incredibly strong for an 18-year-old, and uses that strength to drive hard into defenders, dislodging them and finishing around the rim. He moved a range of wings and bigs with his body across the games, notably bouncing fellow top picks Scottie Barnes and Franz Wagner on the way to strong finishes. He also picked up very few charges on these drives, which was encouraging, though NBA defenders will certainly aim to draw more to stymie Kuminga’s bullyball tactics.
Brute force wasn’t his only tool. When he didn’t settle for a mid-range jumper, he was an effective isolation scorer, beating his man with an array of mature-looking moves and an impressive handle for his size and age. He drew fouls at a high rate and finished in a variety of ways, whether an explosive dunk, floater, or crafty spinning layup.
Most scary for Warriors opponents though, was when Kuminga got in transition. Coach Weems seemed to encourage having Kuminga push off of defensive rebounds and it was where Kuminga had the most flashes of talent. He takes advantage of the cross matches or just being quicker than the 4s and 5s who guarded him and would beat them to the rim, or make some exciting passing reads.
Kuminga’s flashes of passing vision were maybe the most exciting parts of his game. Anyone who had been scouting him knew he had scoring instincts and elite athleticism, but he had the rep among some scouts of being a bit of a ball-stopper or at least having some tunnel vision. That was the case on occasion, as he did miss some reads of open teammates, but enough flashes of some real passing technique and vision occurred to give us some real hope that he could be a secondary creator of sorts soon. Watch that transition clip again of his passes, and then these next few and imagine that impulse after some time with a ball-moving system and unselfish teammates like Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. If he can become a willing playmaker alongside his scoring, it’s easy to see a role sooner rather than much later.
Shooting will be the ultimate swing skill for Kuminga’s offense, and it is very much a work in progress. While the jumper definitely doesn’t seem broken, it is inconsistent for now, and he wasn’t able to hit 3s or midrange 2s at a rate that is viable at the NBA level. And while his ability to get to the line is advanced for his age, if he can’t raise his FT%, that will become a weakness rather than a strength. For now, from what I saw, it looks like he shoots a lot more comfortably off of catch-and-shoot attempts, versus when he tries to pull up off the dribble. If I was Kerr and the staff, I’d probably advise Kuminga to focus on just mainly getting solid at catch-and-shoot 3s, rather than try the full pull-up arsenal for now. A guy with his handle and driving ability is so much more dangerous if defenders actually have to at least close out on open looks. See how his shot looks on these C&S attempts vs. pulling up. Regardless of whether it went in or not, the mechanics on his pull-up look less smooth to me at least.
I didn’t pull any clips on this end, since it’s hard to know exactly what the coaches want a player to be doing with this small of a sample of games, but I did try and watch him on as many possessions as I could.
My general takeaway: he’s a teenager with big-time physical gifts who was trying. He got backdoored or just lost guys off-ball on occasion, and on other possessions, he switched from guards to bigs and handled his job well. He shot passing lanes and made some bad gambles. He had some impressive blocks from the weakside and also missed rotations. What I didn’t see was pure laziness or lack of effort, and this is encouraging. Pretty few 18-year-olds are good team defenders, and like most teenagers, I think he’s got a few years before he makes a real impact on that end, but you could see the flashes. As long as he continues to work hard and learns from Draymond and the coaches, I think he should be ok in time.
Projected use and fit:
While he was often marketed as a guy whose position was naturally a 3 who could guard the 4, he was played pretty exclusively as a 4 or small-ball 5 in Summer League. I think this is smart and likely what will happen with the main squad as well. Until he can shoot a lot better, Kuminga needs to be played with multiple shooters, and if he’s playing the 4 or 5, that’s easier to do. Remember the lineups with Eric Paschall at 5 last year? It’s easy to imagine Kuminga in that role early, as well as playing the 4 alongside a stretch 5 like Nemanja Bjelica, or with Draymond and 3 shooters. Kuminga should thrive in lineups with the Splash Brothers once Klay Thompson returns, but if he can’t grasp the offense or defense, his minutes in year one will be limited.
At the end of the day, Warriors fans should be encouraged from what we’ve seen, with some caveats. Kuminga does not appear to be as raw in terms of feel and basic skills as advertised. He has more passing vision and a better handle than his critics thought. His shooting is not going to blow you away for now but also it doesn’t look like some sort of trainwreck. I’m excited about his long-term outlook! The short term is murkier though. My primary question about his fit this year is that we’ve only really seen him (in both the G League & Summer League) as a featured option who got a lot of usage and enjoyed a long leash in terms of the ability to take shots and make mistakes. The Warriors will play him in lineups this year where he is asked to be more of a role player, and I’m just curious to see what that looks like.
16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals and .5 blocks on 41.8 FG% 38.7 3P% 83.3 FT%
Very simply, Moody is a shooter. Shooting 38.7% from 3 on over 6 attempts a game highlighted the immediate skill he can bring to the Warriors. As I discussed above with Kuminga, Moody’s catch-and-shoot game was a step above any other types of shooting he did, but with much higher efficiency. This is a bankable talent that you can easily see translating as a spacing threat in the NBA. While his release isn’t lightning-quick, his +6 wingspan allows him to get the shot off comfortably even against a good closeout.
On the other hand, the predraft knocks on his athleticism seem real, and, in fact, he showed some real weaknesses as a self-creator. He had some struggles beating guys off the dribble and had to resort to some tricks when he got in the lane, which thankfully, he had some flashes of.
This sort of hook shot finish is not a sustainable option though, so hopefully, Moody works on the floaters and develops more craft to keep his driving as a threat.
Moody wasn’t asked to make plays off the dribble much, or be a facilitator, but I was actually really impressed with his passing vision in the opportunities he had. The Warriors need their role players to see cutters and have their eyes up for open teammates, and while I wouldn’t expect Moody to ever be a primary ball-handler, it looks like he can at least be a useful connector in the offense. Here he throws an accurate lob pass off of pick and roll (which the big flubs unfortunately) and sees a cutting Kuminga before the play even finishes developing.
Moody was as advertised on defense, fitting that 3&D archetype that made him a lottery pick to begin with. He didn’t make many highlight plays, but if you just kept your eyes on him, you’d see him making countless smart rotations and switches. He had his teenage moments of losing track of guys every once in a while, but I think he held up well in both team defense and isolation. His wingspan was clearly a weapon, as he got deflections and just generally was in the way a lot.
One thing I did notice is he really likes to draw charges and seems to show some aptitude at that. While I personally hate the play, it is a useful one, and moreover shows an understanding of where to be in help. Even when he got called for fouls he seemed to be in the right place, attempting verticality or just a hair slow to slide his feet.
Projected use and fit:
I am on the record for being a huge Moody fan in the pre-draft process, and when I didn’t think Kuminga would be there, I was even advocating to take him at 7. I think Moody is an immediate fit on both ends as a role player. He can basically already do everything Damion Lee does, and at 19, can easily develop soon into a Mikal Bridges-type role player. While I was disappointed to see him struggle to create for himself, which definitely limits his ceiling, Moody has enough flashes to keep me interested in his growth as a facilitator on the perimeter and in pick and roll. For now, he will hit catch and shoot 3s and make smart decisions in his role. This late sequence in the OKC game showcased his 2-way potential: