Warriors asked Draymond Green to mentor Jonathan Kuminga as part of new contract

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors

Jonathan Kuminga has moved into the starting lineup, is playing with confidence and since the All-Star break is averaging 19.2 points a game on 51.6% shooting plus grabbing 5.1 rebounds a game. That's a huge jump from November, when he was coming off the bench, playing nine fewer minutes a night, and averaging 11.3 points per game on 45.5% shooting.

What changed that has put Kuminga in the Most Improved Player discussion? Part of it was coach Steve Kerr finally trusting and leaning into the youth on his roster. However, another part of it was Kuminga's maturation this season, and part of the reason for that is Draymond Green's mentorship.

Last summer, when the Warriors gave Green a four-year, $100 million contract, part of what they asked of him was to mentor Kuminga, he told Kendra Andrews of ESPN.

Last June, Green sat on his phone in Paris with team owner Joe Lacob on the other end. Green had just agreed to a new four-year deal, but Lacob had one more contingency that wouldn't show up in the paperwork.

"Joe said, 'I know you're going to play and lead and all of that, but I need one more thing,'" Green recalled. "He said 'I need you to take JK under your wing.

"I said, 'You got my word ...To me, that was a condition of the contract."

Green detailed how, even while suspended this season, he sent Kuminga texts with notes and video clips after games with tips on his game. Some of them were as simple as trusting his athleticism more — "He can always jump and get himself out of trouble" — but went into much more detail.

It's paying off. Any run the Warriors hope to make this postseason will have Kuminga and his athleticism playing off Green and Stephen Curry — cutting to the rim, getting out in transition — at the heart of it. It's also going to cost the Warriors a little bit more as Kuminga becomes extension-eligible this summer, although how the Warriors handle that is intertwined with what happens with Klay Thompson and Chris Paul (both free agents). The Warriors could put off dealing with Kuminga's finances for a year, letting him go to restricted free agency, but that comes with its own risks.

All of this is a long way from where Kuminga was in January, when he said he lost faith in Coach Steve Kerr. It's been a great turnaround for Kuminga, and for the Warriors.