The Golden State Warriors selected forward Jonathan Kuminga with the No. 7 pick of the NBA draft on Thursday night after he played last season with the G League Ignite following a 2016 move from his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At No. 14, Golden State selected guard Moses Moody out of Arkansas, where he played one collegiate season for former Warriors coach Eric Musselman. Moody led the Razorbacks in scoring with an average of 16.8 points — third in the SEC and fourth best among NCAA freshmen.
With the Ignite, a development team for top prospects ahead of the draft, the 6-foot-8 Kuminga averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists over 13 games. The 18-year-old Kuminga attended high school in Hillside, New Jersey.
Golden State expects far less pressure to be on these rookies than last season when key players like Klay Thompson were injured and young players were forced into larger roles.
The Warriors are eager and ready to welcome back Thompson after he missed consecutive seasons following a surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals then an operation for a ruptured right Achilles that he injured ahead of training camp last November.
General manager Bob Myers can’t wait for this group of newcomers to go through a more typical development process: summer league, training camp, no rush to get on the court right away, perhaps some G League experience.
That’s a far different scenario than the one faced by No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman last season, when he was pushed into action based on necessity.
“When you draft a player, ideally you put them in summer league. Whoever we draft, we’re going to play in summer league. … That kind of matters,” Myers said this week. “It’s important to learn our system, and then they go to training camp, and that really matters as a young player. And then you start the season out and you actually have a preseason. Maybe you play four games. Sometimes you just play more. And then you kind of see what you have.”
The 7-foot, 240-pound Wiseman, who played only three college games for Memphis before the Warriors selected him, played in 39 games with 27 starts. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds before undergoing surgery in April to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
“The hard part about last year is none of that happened,” Myers said. “I think James practiced one time before the regular season. And then we also after his first game, you’re kind of like, ‘Wow, he can do this, he can do that,’ but how does it all fit with what we’re trying to do? That’s the challenge of kind of skipping those steps.”