As the Golden State Warrior’s Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are out for an indefinite period of time due to them entering health and safety protocols for COVID-19, rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody may finally get their chance to shine.
Their Monday night opponent, the Sacramento Kings have their six players in the protocol, not counting their head coach, Alvin Gentry.
The past few weeks have been wild at the NBA with teams seeing their games postponed due to COVID-19. However, it seems that the NBA is not going to pause the upcoming fixtures so far amid the current fourth wave of coronavirus infections and the emergence of its Omicron variant.
“It’s nerve-racking for everybody,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Monday’s game. “It’s tough to be back in this state, but it’s tough for everybody.”
Opportunity for Kuminga and Moody
The chaos, however, appears to be an opportunity for Kuminga and Moody, especially with Wiggins and Poole having to be sidelined as the Congolese international will start his second consecutive game Monday, with Kerr saying that Moody will be a key player off the bench.
The 19-year-old Kuminga had his maiden start at the NBA on Saturday in Toronto where He scored 26 points in 36 minutes. The game had most of the Warriors veterans back in the Bay Area.
However, Monday will sure be a challenge for the No. 7 overall pick as instead of sharing the court with Chris Chiozza and Juan Toscano-Anderson, he will be playing alongside Steph Curry and Draymond Green.
“This is not 26 points in Toronto… That’s what we’re gonna see every night,” Kerr said of Kuminga. “It’s not so much that he has to play differently. It’s that he has to focus on the most important aspects of the game that are going to help us win.”
“We need him to lock in defensively and defend without fouling. [To] get out and run in transition. Just execute offensively. He’s so dynamic as an athlete, if he just stays patient and picks his spots wisely, he’s gonna produce.”
Moody started Friday in Boston. He, however, played for only 10 minutes. Kerr believed the rookie still needed more experience.
“I see a guy who has a good feel for the game. Good natural instincts,” Kerr said of Moody. “As a rookie is it just takes time to gain confidence. You need reps, you need to feel the game over and over again.”
“He needs the experience. And that’s why we will continue to occasionally send him to Santa Cruz [the Warriors’ minor-league affiliate], where he’s done really well and, you never know, as we’re finding out right now… he’ll get this opportunity.”
On Kevon Looney
Kerr also talked about Kevon Looney, who played in and started every game for the Warriors this season.
“He’s been a rock for us this year and couldn’t be happier for him,” Kerr said. “Especially the way last couple years went for him physically. He’s put in the time and the effort and he’s earned this. He’s been one of our most consistent performers, and one of the reasons our defenses ranked number one in the league. Loon has really had a great season.”