When Steve Kerr benched Andrew Wiggins in favor of Jonathan Kuminga on opening night against the Phoenix Suns, he was taking a major risk. Though it didn’t result in a victory, it had a significant impact on the Warriors’ season this year. Kerr explained his reasoning for the choice after the game.
“I thought both Kuminga and GP were defending at a high level and obviously you gotta guard Kevin and Book out there,” Kerr stated. We decided to follow those people because it seemed like they were defending well. That’s how many nights will be like this one this year. The strongest player will win the match.”
To be fair, on his debut, Andrew Wiggins was having a terrible time; he was a -22 in his minutes and only shot 4/12 from the field. Kuminga, on the other side, had a +4 rating in his minutes and shot 4/8 from the field. The Warriors’ bet to finish with Kuminga almost paid off, but they were unable to seal the game against the Suns, as Kuminga missed two vital free throws that would have given the club the lead in the closing seconds.
Kuminga needs to get better at making free throws if he wants to close games more and more, which he should be doing. Last night was a prime illustration of this. For Wiggins, he will need to perform more like he did for the Warriors in 2022.