Will Kuminga deliver? Will Wiseman play? Key questions for Warriors camp


Last season, the Golden State Warriors shocked many by vaulting from play-in team to NBA champion. Now, with its entire core of talent back, Golden State must re-acclimate to all that goes into defending a title.

That process starts with training camp, which opens Saturday at Chase Center. Here are the five biggest questions facing the Warriors:

1. Did the Warriors get better this offseason?

At first glance, it’s easy to think Golden State regressed this summer. It replaced an All-Defensive Team-caliber stopper (Gary Payton II) and an essential role player (Otto Porter Jr.) with a wing Sacramento didn’t want (Donte DiVincenzo) and a floor-spacing forward who struggled from deep last season (JaMychal Green).

But things aren’t quite that simple. In cutting down on their luxury-tax bill, the Warriors believe they set themselves up for long-term success while still giving themselves a chance to repeat as champions this season. Whether the latter is true will depend on player development.

Can Klay Thompson return to an All-Star level? Will Andrew Wiggins build off his memorable playoff run? Can Jordan Poole prove last season was no fluke? Will DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green be reliable rotation pieces? Can Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody make the most of more minutes?

Training camp won’t answer all those questions, but it will offer insight into how this new group fits together and whether the front office’s faith in certain players was warranted. The Warriors’ mentality figures to change this season. To ensure Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are at their best come playoff time, Steve Kerr will likely lean more on his role players during the regular season.

That means DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green, Kuminga, Moody and others must be solid. Otherwise, the Warriors might be facing a daunting path through the postseason.

2. How will James Wiseman look?

Nearly two years after he was taken No. 2 overall in the NBA draft, Wiseman remains a mystery. A slow-healing knee injury limited him to just 39 games over his first two seasons and amplified his chorus of critics.

Now, with little more than a month until the Warriors must decide whether to pick up his $12.1 million team option for 2023-24, Wiseman is eager to start playing up to his pre-draft hype. But given that he hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since April 2021, Golden State officials are still preaching patience.

It helps that Kevon Looney has shown he is a capable starting center for a championship team. The Warriors will ease Wiseman into the rotation in hopes that he can provide 15 to 20 minutes per game, with the potential for more.

If Wiseman can run the floor, grab rebounds, throw down put-backs and alley-oop dunks, and play sound positional defense, his season should be considered successful. The big question is how that balky knee will hold up. After enduring a barrage of adversity to start his career, Wiseman might have a hard time stomaching any more setbacks.

3. How ready are the youngsters for bigger roles?

By letting Payton, Porter, Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson and others walk in free agency, the Warriors showed considerable faith in Kuminga and Moody. Still too young to buy beer, they are now poised to play 20-plus minutes per game for the defending champions.

Moody is probably more ready for that kind of workload than Kuminga, whose inconsistency has been well-chronicled. It’s understandable, though, why the Warriors want to see Kuminga get significant run. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan, huge vertical leap and strong scoring instincts, he has All-Star potential. The more reps he receives, the sooner he can begin realizing it.

But don’t be mistaken: The Warriors are well aware that plenty of growing pains await both Kuminga and Moody. Kuminga must learn to play hard every possession, improve his jumper and defend without fouling. Moody, though wise beyond his years, needs to create more for others and stay in front of athletic wings.

The good news for the Warriors that they should have enough to withstand any mistakes Kuminga or Moody might make most nights. If those two can make steady strides throughout the regular season, they should be ready for meaningful playoff minutes.

4. Who will round out the roster?

As The Chronicle reported this week, there is a “growing belief” that Andre Iguodala will delay retirement another year and sign a minimum contract with the Warriors. If he does return, he would fill the 14th spot on Golden State’s 15-man roster. The Warriors are expected to keep open their 15th and final spot for money-saving reasons.

But if Iguodala surprises some by retiring, he would free up an opportunity for one of the team’s training-camp invitees. Under that scenario, youngsters Mac McClung, Jerome Robinson, Trevion Williams and Pat Spencer would be in the mix, with a yet-to-be-an-announced journeyman potentially joining the fray as well.

It’s important not to underestimate the Warriors’ knack for unearthing hidden gems. Before Payton made the roster out of training camp last year and blossomed into a key rotation player for an NBA champion, few considered him more than a fringe piece at this level.

Though the latest crop of training-camp invitees probably doesn’t boast the next Payton, McClung, Robinson, Williams and Spencer each possess intriguing skill sets that could be useful depending on what the Warriors need. Even if Iguodala returns and Golden State holds onto its 15th spot on the 15-man roster, one of the invitees could make his case for a place in Golden State’s plans with a strong camp.

The two-way contracts, which are currently being used on Lester Quinones and Quinndary Weatherspoon, are always fluid. At any point, the Warriors could plug McClung, Robinson, Williams, Spencer or someone else into one of those spots.

5. What does life after Mike Brown look like?

Over the past six seasons, Brown was an underrated behind-the-scenes force for the Warriors. In addition to overseeing the substitution patterns, he helped run the offense and defense at various points, offered a detail-oriented complement to Kerr’s laid-back ways, and provided a valuable sounding board for Green.

With Brown now the Kings’ head coach, assistants Kenny Atkinson and Jama Mahlalela have been promoted. Atkinson replaces Brown as lead assistant; Mahlalela moves from the second row to the front of the bench. Atkinson and Mahlalela deserved their promotions, but Kerr will need some time to get used to not having Brown around. During training camp, Kerr must decide which assistant will oversee the defense and the substitution pattern.

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @Con_Chron

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