Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga replacing Pacers’ Chris Duarte in Rising Stars

Pacers rookie Chris Duarte and Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga is a perfect example of why I want only rookies in Rising Stars at All-Star Weekend.

Sophomores like Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball are entertaining, of course. But top second-year players usually feature prominently for their NBA teams. We see plenty of them already (at least in normal years not interrupted by coronavirus). (And sophomores are rarely as electrifying as Edwards and Ball.)

Rising Stars could be an opportunity to get another look at not only the most NBA-ready rookies, but the talented rookies who’ve yet to carve out big roles.

The No. 7 pick in last year’s draft, Kuminga is averaging just 14 minutes per game on a loaded Golden State team. He has flashed eye-popping athleticism and even held up in bigger roles. But, as high as Kuminga’s upside is, the Warriors are mostly trying to win now. So, Kuminga spent much of the season buried on the bench until gaining steam as Golden State has faced injuries lately.

However, we’ll get another chance to watch him Friday.

Kuminga is replacing Pacers rookie Chris Duarte, who injured his left toe, in Rising Stars.

Gary Payton took Duarte with the No. 19 pick in the 28-player Rising Stars draft. Though not as polished as Duarte, Kuminga brings size and strength Payton’s team otherwise lacked. So, Payton losing his fifth-round pick for an injury replacement won’t necessarily ruin the competitive balance of the new Rising Stars tournament.

It’s a bigger problem when an All-Star captain gets hurt.