Prospect of Interest: Young Jonathan Kuminga has raw physical talent

Jonathan Kuminga of Team Ignite handles the ball against the Delaware Blue Coats. (Juan Ocampo/Getty)

Like Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga played for G League Ignite this past season, opting to forego college in favour of getting a head start on his professional career.

Though an unconventional path to the NBA, it looks like it’ll pay off for Kuminga as it would appear he’ll still go within the first 5-6 picks of the NBA Draft.

It’s difficult for scouts to assess and project what playing for G League Ignite, and the limited playing sample size it provided, exactly means for a lot of these players, but Kuminga has the physical profile already as a still-18-year-old to play at the NBA level, even if not all aspects of his game are fully matured yet.

There’s reports that Kuminga could fall out of the top six, as he’s most commonly been seen going in mock drafts, and if that were to happen that would likely be because of how young and immature he is. Regardless, his raw physical talents look to be among the best of this year’s draft class, making him an intriguing prospect for any team to take a chance on.

Here’s a little more about Kuminga before the July 29 NBA Draft.

Age: 18
Position: Small forward/power forward
Height: Six-foot-eight | Weight: 220 pounds
2020-21 stats PPG: 15.8 | RPG: 7.2 | APG: 2.7 | FG%: 38.7

Has the raw tools you want

At six-foot-eight and 220 pounds and a seven-foot wingspan, Kuminga has ideal, prototypical measurements for a modern NBA combo forward who can play the wing and some small-ball four.

This is bolstered by his elite-level athleticism, strong handle, excellent rebounding instincts, strong ability to finish with both hands and what appeared to be growing playmaking skills.

As mentioned before, Kuminga is still only 18 and would enter the league as a fresh 19-year-old, but his body looks like that of a player several years older than he is already. This, alone, will get him quite far, because you simply can’t teach the kind of physical tools he seems to have at such a young age.

Of course, there have been many examples of athletes similar to Kuminga who come into the league after getting drafted high who don’t pan out, but the guys who do turn that raw athleticism into actual, realized NBA skills usually end up as NBA all-stars.

That’s the upside with Kuminga, even if he may seem a little risky.

Needs more intensity

If Kuminga is going to avoid falling into the trap of being just another athlete playing in the NBA as opposed to being a real athletic NBA player, though, he needs to amp up his own personal intensity.

Kuminga’s flaws are quite obvious right now: He’s a very inconsistent shooter and, even though he has the athletic ability to become a strong multi-positional defender, he seems to lack the motor to dig in and do it.

He can improve in both of these areas with a better attitude and approach to the game.

Kuminga is a very talented prospect and he knows it. On one hand, having the confidence and belief in yourself isn’t a bad thing, but on the other it can breed some complacency and that’s something Kuminga can’t fall into.

Even if his personality isn’t naturally a fiery one, in order to dissuade doubts about himself he needs to prove that he will get into the gym and work his tail off, never satisfied with where his game is at the current moment – particularly with his jumper.

Is definitely a project

As you likely have already surmised, taking Kuminga doesn’t come without a great deal of risk.

Specifically, the team that drafts him will likely be in for a long learning curve with him.

His raw talent is very enticing because you can project him being able to do so many different things so very well down the line, but the problem lies in how long that may take and, given his relatively laissez-faire personality, if he might even be able to reach that potential at all.

For the most patient of teams, however, they could eventually strike gold a few years down the line because athletes this explosive, this fluid and already this well built at 18 years of age don’t come around too often.

The risk factor is likely why Kuminga might end up dropping out of the top six of the draft, and if that happens those teams in the mid-lottery could be in for one hell of a high-risk, high-upside project on their hands that they just might have to take a flyer on.

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