Tonight the Golden State Warriors meet the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Waiting to be part of history will be Jonathan Kuminga, who played high school ball on Long Island.
The 19-year-old small forward began playing basketball in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the age of 2.
In 2016, he moved to the U.S. to play high school basketball, and for his sophomore season Kuminga transferred to Our Savior New American School in Centereach. He averaged 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game during his time on Long Island.
In 2019, Kuminga was named most valuable player of the Slam Dunk to the Beach showcase after scoring 40 points, a single-game record at the event.
For his junior season Kuminga transferred to The Patrick School in New Jersey and quickly became one of the best recruits in the country.
In 2020, however, Kuminga announced he would forgo offers from schools like Duke and Kentucky to join the NBA G League Ignite, the NBA’s new alternative for kids coming out of high school looking to skip the college route.
On Feb. 10 2021, he made his debut, recording 19 points, four assists and four rebounds. For the season, he averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
The G League performance paid off for Kuminga, who was then drafted by the Warriors with the 7 pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
His rookie year he’s been able to show off his stuff. During his first career start, Kuminga put up a career-high 26 points in a 119–100 loss to Toronto. On the season, he played in 70 games, started 12 and averaged 9.3 points per game.
The athletic forward has impressed Warrior head coach Steve Kerr, who has compared him to an NBA All-Star.
“I think about Kawhi Leonard a lot,” said Kerr back in November. “I think that’s a good comp, in regards to size and strength. I’ve watched a lot of Kawhi his rookie year and look back at San Antonio’s circumstances then. Kawhi was working with Manu (Ginobili), (Tim Duncan) and Tony Parker so he was a fourth or fifth option. I think he played 24 minutes a night, scored 10 points and played defense and that was the foundation of what he’s become. So it’s a good comp.”
He’s known around his teammates as a player with freakish athletic abilities. Just look at this monster dunk:
“In the NBA, everybody’s athletic,” teammate Kevon Looney told reporters Wednesday. “But [Kuminga’s] one of those different types of athletes …You talk about guys, like the best athletes in the NBA, when Andre was at his peak, his athleticism.”
In addition to having a solid rookie season, Kuminga has been a valuable contributor to the Warriors this postseason. For the playoffs, he is averaging 9.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in just under 17 minutes a game. He made history in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies, becoming the youngest player to start a playoff game in the NBA since 1971 at 19 years, 213 days old.
He’ll look to continue his contribution tonight as the series begins at home for him at Chase Center. Tip off is at 9 p.m. The game will air on ABC and streamed on ESPN.
Top: Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga (00) shoots next to Detroit Pistons guard Hamidou Diallo (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)