The 21-year-old forward is having a breakout season and he’s no longer agitated about his role


Two months after The Athletic reported that Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors had lost faith in coach Steve Kerr, the 21-year-old forward wants to be a “Warrior for life.”

In a 40-minute interview on the Dubs Talk podcast with Kerith Burke and Monte Poole, Kuminga said that he would like to follow in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’s footsteps in the Bay Area. He also noted that Kobe Bryant, his favorite player, stuck with one team for his entire career.

“When I look at those three people – Steph, Klay and Draymond – and I look at their pictures in the practice facility every day, I’m like, ‘This is where I want to be. I want to be right there. I want to play here my whole life,’” Kuminga said. “I mean, you don’t choose and control where you’re going to be, but obviously, that’s the goal. That’s where I want to be. I want my name next to those guys’ one day, obviously.”

Kuminga continued: “I got drafted here. They always – the people are great, they always take care of me, they’re always helping me grow as a person, so obviously, I would love to just be one of the Warriors for life and just never change. My favorite player was a Laker for life, so obviously I would love to be a Warrior for life.”

In early January, after a loss against the Denver Nuggets in which Kuminga logged only 19 minutes and sat on the bench from the middle of the third quarter until the final buzzer, he and Kerr had a conversation. On the podcast, Kuminga said that Kerr’s message was consistent with their prior conversations.

“I mean, his message, it’s always about the same thing, you know? He always wants to help me to actually see the bigger picture,” Kuminga said. “And obviously, I saw a bigger picture, but just the way Steve is going to explain it, it’s way better, obviously, because he’s way older than me, he knows how life goes, he played basketball too. So just him telling me that, even everything I do good, he felt like I could do it better.”

Kuminga said that, now, Kerr’s words are “like music playing in my head, and that’s what’s kind of helping me to just come out here and play free and just be a great player.” He said Kerr had put him “in a great situation to start succeeding,” and he denied that he’d ever lost faith in the Warriors.

“I did not lose faith in being here,” Kuminga said. “It’s not what I said. It was just definitely to a point where I felt like I need to be out there. I felt like I could help. I felt like it was just so much left on the table where I felt like me, the young guys, could go out there and help Steph, Klay and Draymond.”

Kuminga said he was “just trying to go out there and just find a way to play, find a way to be on the floor, find a way to help every young guy get their chance. And, as you see, every young guy getting their chance, including me, and we’re out there doing the things that we were supposed to be doing.”

Back then, Golden State was 16-18 and Green had yet to return from his suspension. Lineups featuring Kuminga and forward Andrew Wiggins had fared terribly, and Kerr’s coaching staff was searching for five-man units that worked well on both ends. Since then, the Warriors have juggled the rotation some more, with rookie Brandin Podziemski replacing Thompson in the starting lineup (until Curry’s recent ankle injury forced another change), and Green’s presence has made the Kuminga-Wiggins pairing viable. With Kuminga, Wiggins and Green on the court, Golden State has outscored opponents by 13.1 points per 100 possessions in 2024. One month remains in the regular season, and the Warriors are 34-31.

In his past 28 games, Kuminga is averaging 20.5 points on 62% true shooting, plus 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks in 30.3 minutes. More importantly, he is now comfortable enough to, in a lighthearted way, call Kerr out for yelling at him. On the podcast, Burke noted that when Kerr sees lots of potential in players, he coaches them harder, using former Golden State guard Jordan Poole as an example. “It’s worse than Jordan Poole,” Kuminga replied. “It’s worse.”

He continued: “There’s definitely times when I feel like I’m doing good and Steve don’t think I’m doing good ’cause he wants me to do better. There was a game, I think a couple weeks ago, where he just took a timeout and yell at me in front of everybody. And obviously yell at me a lot of times and I’m used to it now, and I’m like, ‘Coach, I got you.’ Even if it’s nothing I did bad, I’m just going to be like, ‘My bad, my fault, next play I got you.’”

Kuminga has not always been happy with his role, but he didn’t sound upset with the way Kerr and other Warriors coaches push him.

“After the game, when I look back, I see the good result,” he said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, it worked.’”