JK delivers historic Warriors performance amid best stretch of career

NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Jonathan Kuminga already had a good relationship with former Warriors star Chris Mullin. Now, he and the Hall of Famer are linked together as the only players in franchise history to take 11 shots and make every one of them.

Kuminga’s slice of perfection against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at Chase Center continued an impressive month-long stretch during which the 21-year-old has been playing the best basketball of his young career.

The No. 7 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Kuminga aggressively and effectively went right at the heart of the Hawks’ defense. He shunned his jumper in favor of attacking the basket. Only one of his shots against Atlanta came outside the key.

“JK was tremendous, just really attacking the rim,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “That’s where we want him, in the paint, because you can’t stop him in there. He’s so powerful and athletic. I thought he was fantastic, so under control.

“Just thrilled with JK’s progression, how much he’s maturing and understanding what’s going on. It’s beautiful to watch.”

Kuminga’s early career was marked more by inconsistencies in his game. Whatever highlight plays he made often were offset by mistakes or breakdowns.

Against the Hawks, and mostly in every game since early December, it has been anything but inconsistent for Kuminga.

Already the team’s best dunker and arguably Golden State’s most athletically gifted player, he had an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Stephen Curry that normally might have served as Kuminga’s big highlight of the night.

But during the 134-112 win against the Hawks, Kuminga made several noteworthy plays. He attacked the rim like a charging bull, driving aggressively without hesitation and literally scored at will.

“I really took what they gave me on defense. That’s pretty much it,” Kuminga said. “I wasn’t even really thinking about taking any 3s.”

And some.

While he’s at his best when driving hard through the key, Kuminga has a fairly decent jumper that he often relies on. He was 4 for 4 from deep in the win over the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 12.

Against Atlanta, however, Kuminga only attempted a handful of jumpers – all inside the key – and didn’t take one shot beyond the arc.

The game was Kuminga’s 21st consecutive reaching double figures, the best stretch of his career.

“I’m getting more comfortable and a lot of things are slowing down,” Kuminga said. “I’m seeing the floor better than before.”

A conversation with teammate Draymond Green a few days ago in practice also helped. Green, who recently returned from his second NBA suspension of the 2023-24 season, told Kuminga to stop overthinking and just go with the flow.

“I feel like that stuck in my head where every time I’m about to do something, I remember Draymond told me, ‘Just be who you are. Don’t overthink,’ ” Kuminga said. “Even throughout the [Hawks] game, he was talking to me and explaining what I need to do better. I really appreciate Draymond doing that every single day.”

For much of the past week, the Warriors had been dealing with the sudden death of assistant coach Dejan Milojević, who spent much of his time with the team working with Golden State’s big men.

Before Wednesday’s game, Kerr told his team to go out and get lost in the game against the Hawks as a way of dealing with everything that has gone on.

“Obviously, we kind of re-grouped within everything that’s going on and just went out and enjoyed and had fun,” Kuminga said.

No one had as much fun as JK, who now shares a spot in the Warriors record books with Mullin. To put his night into perspective, Stephen Curry’s best night without missing a shot came in 2011 when the two-time NBA MVP went 5-for-5 against the then-New Orleans Hornets on Feb. 15, 2011.

“It’s crazy. Chris is really my guy,” Kuminga said. “Tying his record, it’s a blessing. I’m really happy it happened.”

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