It's no coincidence the Golden State Warriors' midseason turnaround began when Draymond Green got back on the floor following his indefinite suspension. The Dubs are 13-6 since the future Hall-of-Famer returned to the lineup, sporting a +7.5 net rating—fifth-best in the league over that timeframe.

While Green has certainly made his presence felt offensively as the Warriors' small-ball five, it's his near-peerless impact on the other end that's paid even greater dividends.

Golden State's defensive rating was 123.8 during the 16 games Green missed after striking Jusuf Nurkic in the face on December 12th, the second-worst mark in basketball over that timeframe. The Warriors have become a completely different team on that side of the ball since he returned on January 15th, their 111.2 defensive rating ranking fifth in the league.

After another impressive team-wide defensive performance in Thursday's 110-99 road win over the New York Knicks, though, the former Defensive Player of the Year felt compelled to downplay his influence amid Golden State's renaissance. As Green sees it, Jonathan Kuminga deserves more credit than him for their team's season-altering surge.

“JK is a star. He’ll be an All-Star in this league for a long time,” Green said. “He’s playing confident, he’s playing with force on both ends of the floor and that’s what he’s gonna be great at. He’s not gonna be a guy who can just give it to you on the offensive end, he’s gonna be able to hold his own on the defensive end and shut guys down, even more so than just holding his own. It’s been great to see his growth. A lot of people are talking about me coming back in the lineup and that’s why we’re winning; I think we’re winning because of the growth of Jonathan Kuminga.”

Jonathan Kuminga shines in Warriors' win over Knicks

Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga (00) dunks the ball against the Washington Wizards in the second half at Capital One Arena
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Kuminga lived up to that hype at Madison Square Garden, his rare physical tools simply proving too much for New York both offensively and defensively. He stuffed the stat sheet with 25 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks on 12-of-19 shooting, living at the rim and thriving in transition.

After the shorthanded Knicks cut a once-commanding Dubs lead to seven just before crunch-time, Kuminga raced out in the open floor for an off-balance, flailing finish plus the foul, showing off his otherworldly blend of burst and body control. The 21-year-old spun baseline past Donte DiVincenzo for another and-1 a couple minutes later, this time using his left hand while powering through Jericho Sims for another crafty layup.

Kuminga fared well when switched onto Jalen Brunson, suffocating the Knicks' franchise point guard with length and quickness. He was reliable and disruptive as a help defender, too, occasionally igniting Golden State's transition attack with early rotations and deflections.

There's plenty of praise to go around for the Warriors' resurgence. Despite his insistence otherwise, Green definitely deserves more than anyone else.

But Kuminga's meteoric individual rise began while Green was suspended and has stalled at times during Golden State's recent run of success. Coming off his second straight game with 20-plus points on elite efficiency, it's a testament to Kuminga's ongoing growth and increasingly bright future he's easily shaken off those relative struggles to remain a true difference-maker as the Dubs keep stacking wins ahead of the season's stretch run.