Jonathan Kuminga confirms Kyrie Irving is a tougher cover than Ja Morant

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

Over his last three games, Jonathan Kuminga has been defending some of the best guards in the world. In his mind, Kyrie Irving is the toughest cover.

Jonathan Kuminga came back from an eight-game absence from a foot sprain and stepped right into a brutal run of defensive assignments. Over the past three games, he’s spent 10 or more possessions as the primary defender on Kyrie Irving, Ja Morant and Darius Garland.

The second-year forward held up well, but he clearly understood the level of competition he was up against and he wasn’t shy about praising the most difficult cover.

Kuminga isn’t wrong but he can give himself some credit — Irving scored just four points on 2-of-5 shooting on the 22 possessions when Kuminga was his primary defender.

Jonathan Kuminga has defended Ja Morant and Kyrie Irving well

Limiting Kyrie Irving is no small feat — he ranks in the 95th percentile in scoring efficiency on isolations this season. But Kuminga has been similarly effective on other small guards this season, with the footspeed to keep up and the wingspan and strength to create defensive advantages.

In the win over Memphis, Kuminga helped force Morant into playing as a passer. Morant recorded 7 assists in the 22 possessions Kuminga was his primary defender but attempted just a single shot. At the beginning of this three-game stretch, Kuminga helped hold Darius Garland to 1-of-6 from the field across 10 possessions as his primary defender.

Kuminga has been building confidence after a tough start to the season and he should get at least one more start with Andrew Wiggins out. The Warriors could really use a strong finish from him, building on his immense potential as they approach the playoffs.

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