How Draymond's return could impact Kuminga, Warriors' rotations

How Draymond's return could impact Kuminga, Warriors' rotations originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Now that the NBA has officially reinstated Draymond Green from his indefinite suspension, the next hurdle facing Warriors coach Steve Kerr is how to fit the four-time All-Star back into the team’s plans.

Kerr already has been juggling his rotations and splitting minutes with players — an issue that will become more significant with Green back in the fold.

Don’t expect Green to start right away when he does come back, which reportedly won't be for at least one week while he ramps up to game condition. The Warriors almost certainly will ease him into the rotation, but it shouldn’t take too long for Green to get back up to full speed.

Make no mistake, however. The Warriors aren’t just adding any ordinary player to their roster. Not even close.

Green has played a huge and pivotal role in Golden State’s success over the past decade. Along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Green is part of the Big Three that formed the foundation of four NBA championship teams.

Curry and Thompson have garnered the most credit, for obvious reasons, but there’s no denying how big a part Green played in all of that.

But Green is coming back to a much different Warriors team now. Golden State has scuffled for most of the 2023-24 NBA season and sits in 10th place in the Western Conference, just a half game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kerr has shuffled his lineup for most of the season, looking for some sort of stability, but he has yet to find anything that consistently works. Having Green back should significantly help, although there will be ripple effects.

The one player who probably will be affected the most by Green’s return is Jonathan Kuminga. The 21-year-old has played the best basketball of his three-year NBA career while carrying the bulk of the load at power forward during Green’s absence.

After Kuminga was left on the bench for the entire fourth quarter of Thursday’s stunning last-second loss to the Denver Nuggets, The Athletic reported that those close to the forward said he had lost confidence in Kerr being able to fully develop him.

However, Kuminga and Kerr later held a clear-the-air meeting during which the young forward said the topic of playing time never came up.

A few days ago, Kerr declined to say how Green’s imminent return might affect other players’ playing time and that he would deal with it when the time arose.

That time now is here, and it will be one of the team’s main storylines. That and the ongoing hope that Green, who enrolled in a counseling program to satisfy an NBA mandate as part of his suspension, can avoid further problems.

Just Green’s presence on the court should make an impact for Golden State. Kerr recently commented that the Warriors have lacked a certain grit this season.

“We haven’t found that grit every good team needs, when you pull together and just play for the group,” Kerr told reporters Saturday after the Warriors were handily defeated 132-122 by the Dallas Mavericks at Chase Center. “We’re not there yet, and that’s a problem.”

One has to believe that won’t be an issue with Green, who is as demanding of his teammates as he is of himself.

There’s also something to be said for having a player with Green’s demeanor on the team. Clearly, his emotions have led to plenty of issues, but he possesses an extreme passion and has no problem holding others accountable.

Obviously, the Warriors will have a different look once Green is back in uniform.

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