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Why JK was ‘virtually' untouchable for Warriors at trade deadline

Why JK was ‘virtually' untouchable for Warriors at trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Warriors stood pat at the 2024 NBA trade deadline on Thursday without making any major moves, confident the players they have in-house provide more upside than anyone they could have acquired on the market.

One of those potential trade pieces was young forward Jonathan Kuminga, but Golden State had no desire to trade him as he comes into his own during his third NBA season. And in Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s eyes, the 21-year-old was "virtually" untouchable no matter who came calling.

"As untouchable as guys can be in this league," Dunleavy told reporters Thursday after the deadline had come and gone. "He's certainly in that level. So, didn't see a scenario where Jonathan wouldn't be on our team after this trade deadline."

Since Dec. 6, Kuminga has scored double-digit points in 28 consecutive games, averaging 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists across that span. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft is coming along just as the Warriors hoped he would, even earning a spot in the starting lineup, and it's clear they view him as a pivotal piece of the organization's future.

"We've had high expectations for [Kuminga] since we drafted him," Dunleavy told reporters. "We believe he can do a lot of things on the basketball court with his God-given gifts and his skill level. I think he had a preseason that reflected that, and maybe didn't get off to a great start for various reasons in the regular season, and at some point, he's found his way.

"Maybe a little bit of that was Draymond [Green] being out [on suspension], but the bottom line is he's found it not only with scoring; he's doing the other things -- rebounding, making the right passes, making the right reads ... The game's slowing down for him, it's clicking, and he's in a really good spot."

There were some earlier concerns from Warriors coach Steve Kerr that Kuminga and another rumored trade target, Andrew Wiggins, weren't meshing well enough on the court to play them together in games. But Kuminga and Wiggins, with Green's return, have produced stellar results together on the court recently -- something Dunleavy said gave Golden State "hope" ahead of the deadline.

"I think you can kind of see a path there, which we didn't really have earlier in the season trying out different lineups," Dunleavy told reporters. "... I think we see more speed, more length, playing faster, some disruptiveness, some athleticism -- those types of things, for this modern game, that matter. We see some of that coming out.

"I think for that reason, there's some hope and optimism, and we're going to ride that."

Both Kuminga and Wiggins appear to have flipped a switch on the court, and the Warriors certainly are better for it. Wiggins recently has resembled the two-way star Golden State knows he can be, while Kuminga's emergence has instilled a new confidence in the Warriors' front office.

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