Golden State Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga suffered a strained right patella tendon in the team's 118-116 preseason win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
The Warriors said the 19-year-old will be reevaluated in one week. A little under two weeks remain before they open the regular season Oct. 19 at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Warriors big man James Wiseman is an example of how difficult it can be attempting to contend for the playoffs while focusing on the development of a young player. Although Wiseman had a bright start in the Bay Area, his performance tailed off before he underwent season-ending surgery for a meniscus tear.
Kuminga is clearly a long-term project for Golden State. In 13 games with the NBA G League Ignite, the seventh overall draft pick this year averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds but shot 38.7 percent from the field and 24.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Head coach Steve Kerr told reporters nailing down the 19-year-old's role for the 2021-22 season is "kind of the question going into this year":
"In terms of his outlook, key for him is going to be playing defense. Picking up our schemes and coverages and tendencies of his opponents and all that kind of stuff. If we feel like we can count of him defensively—he's showing quite a bit offensively—that could earn him some minutes, but we'll see."
Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green are projected to be the starters at forward, and the additions of Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala will give Kerr options off the bench.
If the 6'7", 225-pound Kuminga's injury is severe enough that he misses the start of the season, Golden State should have the depth to cope.
But it would likely prolong the process of getting him up to speed with the NBA and fitting him into the rotation.