Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green believes forward Jonathan Kuminga can develop into an elite defender in the NBA and recently explained why the rookie could potentially reach that level.

Kuminga recently entered the rotation for head coach Steve Kerr after playing sparingly to start the season. He missed most of the preseason and the start of the regular season after recovering from a knee injury but has impressed in practice to earn playing time.

The seventh overall pick is averaging eight points and four rebounds in 14.8 minutes over his last three games. He has drawn the assignment of guarding some elite offensive players, including DeMar DeRozan, LaMelo Ball and others, and has shown promise in that role.

Green has been impressed by the early showing from Kuminga.

I think he has been incredible. He wants to learn and is extremely gifted and talented. I think he has a lot to offer to this team. He was incredible in his minutes tonight. I think those minutes will continue to grow. If he continues to play that way, I have no doubt in my mind he will, he’ll get smarter and he’ll figure more and more stuff out as he continues to play.

The Warriors initially were unsure of what role Kuminga would play to start the year. The roster features several veteran players ahead of Kuminga and the team viewed him as more of a complimentary piece off the bench coming in as a rookie.

He was known as a strong defender entering the draft given his size at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-11 wingspan. He played very physical last season in the NBA G League with the Ignite, and was projected to bring that ability with him to the Warriors.

Green explained why Kuminga can become an elite defender.

I have no doubt in my mind that he can check just about anybody. He has the size, strength, quickness and length. Everything you want in a defender, he kinda has. He is going to be a hell of a defender. As he figures out angles, and where guys like to get to, he’ll continue to get better and better.

Kuminga has shown promise on the offensive end of the floor. With his ability on defense, he has the potential to develop into an elite two-way player. It often takes rookies time before picking things up on defense but Kuminga appears to be ahead of schedule.

The 19-year-old still has a ways to go before becoming a full-time member of the rotation but he has performed well when his number has been called. It may just be a matter of time before he earns more playing time given the way he has produced.

This post originally appeared on Rookie Wire! Follow us on Facebook!


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