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Breaking Down The Game Of New G League Select Team Prospect Jonathan Kuminga

Dakota Schmidt writes an extended piece on G League Select Team prospect Jonathan Kuminga

SLAM Summer Classic 2019 Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

On Wednesday, five-star prospect Jonathan Kuminga announced that he’d be reclassifing to the class of 2020 while also bypassing college to join the G League’s professional pathway program. The Congo-born prospect chose to sign a Select Contract over the likes of Texas Tech, Auburn, Duke, and Kentucky, who were the other options on the top-five list that he dropped on social media back in May.

Kuminga stands as the fifth prospect to chose the G League over college or other professional leagues like the Australian NBL. On the team that will be coached by Brian Shaw, he’ll join guards Jalen Green and Daishen Nix and front-court prospects Isaiah Todd and Kai Sotto. When it comes to that group of five, Kuminga’s status is closer to Green as he’s 4th on ESPN and 247sports big board for the class of 2020.

“I see my potential as an NBA player, and with the G League, they’ll help me a lot more than college,” Kuminga said in an interview with The Athletic and Stadium’s NBA insider Shams Charania. “They’ll help me off and on the court and to reach my goal to be the No. 1 draft [pick] in 2021. The G League will help me more than how college was going to help me on being the player I want to be right now and going pro.”

Along with being one of the top rated players in the class of 2020, his thought of having NBA potential makes complete sense when you start to start to watch him play. Almost immediately you’ll see a 6’8 forward that combines incredible athletic gifts with a skill set that’s pretty versatile for a young man that won’t turn 18 until October 6th.

When it comes to his well-rounded play on the offensive end, the forward used his time in AAU tournaments and high school play with The Patrick School to exhibit an ability as being able to drive to the rim with both hands, standing as a catch-and-shoot threat, solid facilitator, and being able to post-up on the right block.

Among those skills, his ability to drive to the rim is the one trait that immediately pops off the screen. The appeal begins when the Congo-born standout is on the perimeter where he was able to use a quick first step to blow by most opponents that he were put to the task of trying to stop him. After that initial victory, the explosive nature continues as he blazes his way to the paint and finishes with a big slam at the rim. Even when there’s an opponent waiting there, he’s still regularly able to finish with a layup through using his strong 205-frame to overpower the teenagers that he’s going against.

Although he does a great job of using his strength and explosiveness to be able to drive to the paint with either his left or right hand, there are issues that he’s going to need to work on. One of his flaws comes with his touch around the rim as he’s prone to miss some easy shots when he’s a few feet away. In addition to that, Kuminga does have a tendency to force drives to the paint when there’s two or even three opposing players standing in or around the paint.

Moving on to his work as a perimeter shooter, the young prospect is currently best as a catch-and-shoot threat. In that area, the forward as he’s relaxed with getting to his area, setting his feet, capturing the pass, and then putting up a jumper that seems to land at a pretty consistent clip. The only weakness for him in this area is how the arc on jumper is more reminiscent of a line drive than a 400 foot home run. However, it seems like there’s been progression in there as the ball seems to go higher in the air during his games with the Patrick School from this winter and spring than the EYBL ball he played in back in the summer of 2019.

Transitioning over to his work as a facilitator, our subject definitely shows upside due to being able to use his 6’7 frame to stand over the court to find his opponent. His ability to look over the court is seen with how he’s able to push the ball to front-court players that are trying to get positioning inside the paint. Unfortunately, the bigs that he was playing with had their struggles with being able to finish around the rim.

Kuminga’s skills as a passer persists when working away from the perimeter as he shows a real knack for being able to find cutters while on the move. Along with being able to find those players, the forward does a nice job of dishing it off and throwing precise passes. Honestly, that skill should be utilized more at the G League level as it would really push him into being a better player as it would cut down on the careless drives that he makes.

Despite the flaws that have been pointed out in this piece, Kuminga is still a special prospect that has a strong chance of becoming the 1st overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft. His athletic gifts as a strong 6’7 forward that can jump out the rim combined with developed skills as a on-ball driver, perimeter shooter, and facilitator are enough to put him at a higher level than most of his counterparts.

Those traits and skills honestly make me excited to see how he can progress as a player when he has a chance to learn under head coach Brian Shaw and the other coaches or veterans that will be signed between now and whenever the players report to California. Because if he’s able to use the lessons that they give him and put them into action to progress as a player, the sky might be the limit for Jonathan Kuminga when he begins his career as an NBA player.