Jonathan Kuminga, ‘never satisfied’, dreams of extending Warriors’ dynasty

Jonathan Kuminga, 'never satisfied', dreams of extending Warriors' dynasty

LAS VEGAS — Steph Curry had recently turned 27 years old when he won his first NBA title in 2015. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, whose birthdays aren’t even a month apart, both were 25 and Andre Iguodala was 31.

Jonathan Kuminga was 12, the same year he first started dunking, when the Warriors won their first championship in 40 years. He was 19 this past season when he won his first ring and played a part in Curry, Thompson, Green and Iguodala being crowned champions together for a fourth time.

Seven years after the Warriors’ dynasty started its first stage, the same core four played key roles in the Warriors’ most surprising — and perhaps most satisfying — championship.

Curry was the best player in the world throughout the playoffs on his way to an historic NBA Finals run. Thompson produced another epic Game 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies and scored at least 20 points eight times in the playoffs after two leg injuries kept him out for two-and-a-half years. Green had an up-and-down postseason, but put the clamps on two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and saved his best for last in Game 6 of the Finals vs. the Boston Celtics. Injuries limited Iguodala all season long and held him to seven games in the playoffs, though his impact as essentially a player-coach surpassed any box score.

And all while the OGs continued to hold down the fort, the future began building a bridge, making the Warriors’ two-timelines dream a reality with their most ambitious accomplishment yet.

Jordan Poole in the final days of being 22 years old stood on the TD Garden Floor and celebrated the Warriors’ title-clinching win in Boston. In the moments that Poole and Thompson embraced each other for one of the biggest hugs of the night, a 19-year-old Kuminga, 20-year-old Moses Moody and a 21-year-old James Wiseman celebrated on the sidelines before joining the action with their Warriors teammates.

Those four are the future, and already have had plenty of talks on extending Golden State’s dynastic run. They’re a major part of it now, and hold the keys to the longevity of its life expectancy.

“That’s just us sitting down, talking about it,” Kuminga said to NBC Sports Bay Area on the latest episode of Dubs Talk in an interview during the Las Vegas Summer League. “I mean, a lot of people always talk about it. And I had a couple talks with all the guys you just mentioned. We speak about it every time we sit down.

“We’re just saying, ‘What do you think when we’re running the team too?’ We just got to keep up with the legacy that the older guys left. We just got to keep building on that one and let the people know that the old guys are gone, but there’s still the young guys that are coming up.”

Kuminga and Moody trail only Kobe Bryant for the most minutes as a 19-year-old in a conference finals series. They became the second-youngest and fourth-youngest fields in NBA history. Entering elite company, Kuminga joined Bryant, Tony Parker and Carmelo Anthony as the only teenagers to score at least 18 points in a playoff game.

Poole put up 30 points in his playoff debut and became the 16th player to score at least 25 points in a player’s first three postseason games. He had his teammates and Steve Kerr alike campaigning for him to be the league’s Most Improved Player and looked like an All-Star in the making ready for a big-time payday.

Then there’s Wiseman, who finally is healthy again and impressed in summer league. The franchise still very much believes in his upside.

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They’re the future, and the front office — especially the owner — has reasons to see Kuminga’s star shining the brightest of the four before we know it. That’s all up to him, though.

When asked which part of his game Kuminga wants to improve the most this offseason for Year 2, he won’t settle for one aspect. His bigger picture is about more than that. Kuminga isn’t short on self-confidence, and knows that if he can put it all together, production will overshadow the word “potential” hanging over his head.

“With me, I’m never satisfied with anything,” Kuminga said. “I always want to improve on everything. I don’t know if it’s impossible, but in my mind, I think I can get better at pretty much everything.

“But it’s just not going to happen overnight. It’s gonna take some time.”

Patience will be needed with Kuminga and the rest of the Warriors’ youngins, no matter how hard that might be at times. There will be eye-popping flashes and a handful of frustrations. The lights have been turned on.

This next wave of Warriors stars see no end in sight to a tunnel. Was last season the continuation of one dynasty or the start to another? The right answer might be somewhere in between, with a hunger for more after celebrating through the streets of San Francisco.

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