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Jonathan Kuminga, raw talent with lots of potential

Photo Credit: Juan Ocampo/NBAE Getty Images

Jonathan Kuminga is undoubtably an enticing talent with a high ceiling. Although he does not have the same household name recognition as the other top prospects of the 2021 NBA Draft class, Kuminga possesses the raw skill and size to be a star in the league one day and is widely considered to be a top five pick in the draft.

Born in The Republic of Congo and coming over to the United States at the age of 14 to pursue his basketball career, Kuminga has made a name for himself on the court and is recognized as one of the best small forwards available in this year’s draft. He was identified not only for his elite basketball ability and impressive frame, but for his work ethic and character, helping him earn five star recruit status out of high school.

Kuminga took an untraditional path for most high school players by signing with the NBA G-League Ignite instead of playing in a Division I college program. At the time he was classified as the top prospect of his class.  Despite his season totals tapering off from an ankle injury, Jonathan Kuminga is a dynamic two-way wing player who averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game in 13 appearances with the Ignite. With the combination of his size, length, athleticism and skillset, Jonathan Kuminga is turning heads as the draft approaches and could surprise people by going earlier than expected.

Strengths:

  1. Body and Athleticism

Kuminga is genetically gifted with his body and athleticism. At just 18 years of age, he has a legitimate NBA-ready body standing at at 6’8, weighing 220 lbs along with a 7’0 wingspan. Physically, he is an ideal wing player in the modern NBA and why a main reason why Kuminga is highly sought after for his frame.

Kuminga has the length, quickness, agility and coordination that separates himself from any wing in this year’s draft class. At such a young age, Kuminga’s physique and abilities already give him and edge entering the league with the potential to become a premier two-way wing player.

2. Defense

Jonathan Kuminga is the most versatile defender in this draft class. He has the size, length and athleticism to be a solid defender, giving him the necessary tools to defend the 1-4 positions.

Kuminga is also known as a disruptive defender. He has the ability to contest shots from deep and cut into passing lanes with his long frame. His versatility on defense allows him to cover guards in pick and roll switch situations, while also being able to hold his own in the paint and play physical against bigs. His size and hustle allows for him to be an impressive rebounder, averaging 7.2 boards per game, good for second on the Ignite team behind centre Donta Hall.

3. Offensive Driving

Kuminga’s primary offensive game is built around his ability to drive to the basket. He can drive past his opponents and finish through contact while also scoring at the rim very well. 

HIs quickness allows him to get a first step against bigger players along with utilizing his strength against smaller defenders.

Areas of Improvement:

  1. Shooting

Kuminga has very raw skill all-around and will have to improve his overall game once he takes the step to the next level. This comes with age and experience, so Kuminga’s overall skill refinement will be a key area of focus as he matures in the league.

A specific area that Kuminga can improve in is his offensive shooting. Although he averaged 15.8 points per game, his shooting efficiency was lower than expected, shooting 38.7 per cent from the field and only 24.6 per cent from deep. Kuminga will have to improve his shot if he wants to be a good two-way wing player. He cannot solely rely on driving as his primary scoring option, and adding a consistent jump shot to his game will add more versatility to his already impressive finishing ability.

NBA Comparison

NBA scouts have compared Kuminga to shades of Jaylen Brown. Both players are similar physically and athletically with the two-way ability to score with volume and defend multiple positions. Brown has a more developed shot and has progressed into a secondary scoring option on the Celtics alongside Jayson Tatum. Brown is coming off a career season just five years into his career, earning his first All-Star appearance and averaged 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and shooting 48.4 per cent from the field with the Celtics in 2021. Kuminga has the potential to reach this level with proper development over the coming years in the league.

Where He Stands:

Overall, Kuminga is a sound two-way wing with lots of potential and the tools to be a premier NBA defender. Although his skills are very raw, he is firmly settled as the potential No. 5 pick among the consensus top-five prospects for the 2021 NBA Draft.

With an NBA-ready body along with G-League experience, Kuminga has a very high ceiling where he could become a prominent two-way wing in the NBA and a star one day.

With the Raptors holding the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, there could be a chance that Kuminga is selected by Raps earlier than anticipated. The Raptors have shown in the past that they have the ability to develop players and transition them into great NBA talent. Already aligned by their respective focus on the defensive side of the ball, working alongside the Raptors’ development staff could help Kuminga refine his game and really help him hone in his all around skills.

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