The Golden State Warriors kept their perfect season (and preseason!) going on Sunday night, with an exciting 119-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings that brought their record to 3-0, including 2-0 on the road.
I’m enjoying this season so far.
Anyway, let’s grade the players for their performance and role in ending the weekend on a high note.
As always, grades are weighted based on expectations for those players — 15 points and 7 assists might be a B for Steph Curry, but it’s an A++ for Jeff Dowtin.
34 minutes, 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 6-for-12 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, +10
14 points on 12 shots isn’t going to earn Green any efficiency awards, but it certainly continues a trend of much better scoring from the three-time All-Star than in the last few years. Green is averaging 14.1 points per 100 possessions, shooting 54.5% from the field and 50% on threes; last year it was 10.5 points per 100 possessions, and shooting 44.7% from the field and 27% from deep.
The defense is still great, and the turnovers are down. Dray looks comfortable and impactful.
31 minutes, 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 foul, 6-for-13 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, +18
It feels like Wiggins’ offense has regressed to start the season, yet his scoring is only down a hair, and with virtually identical efficiency as last year. This was definitely his best offensive game of the season, as he was a bit more selective with his shots, and got more looks at the rim.
But there are some concerns with his game. The defense doesn’t look as good as a year ago, and while he played a role in Buddy Hield having an off night, he also played a role in Harrison Barnes having a strong game.
Defensive stats aren’t great indicators of success, but it’s still odd to see Wiggins put up donuts in the steal and block columns.
Post-game bonus: Team winner in plus/minus
19 minutes, 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 foul, 3-for-5 shooting, 2-for-2 free throws, -6
Looney was the only Warrior to finish with a negative plus/minus, but I reckon that was primarily due to things outside of his control, and Sacramento being a team that it’s best to play small against.
In reality it was probably Looney’s best performance of the year. He was smart in his offensive rotations, ending up in the right spots, flashing good hands, and finishing strong. He did well when switched onto the perimeter, and while he struggled defending Richaun Holmes a few times, generally was solid on defense.
Post-game (sad) bonus: Team loser in plus/minus
35 minutes, 27 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 9-for-23 shooting, 4-for-15 threes, 5-for-6 free throws, +14
It was a complete game, but not necessarily a dynamic game for Curry. He did a little bit of everything — he rebounded well yet again, had double-digit assists, took care of the ball, and played very strong defense.
But he also scored with below-average efficiency — not just by his standards, but by league standards. He gets a pass for some of it, as some of the misses came when he hoisted nearly-impossible buzzer-beaters, or the team gave him the ball with a few seconds on the shot clock and asked him to bail them out.
Still, Curry’s set an absurd standard for scoring efficiency, and that’s what he’s always measured against.
32 minutes, 22 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 8-for-16 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, +4
What a great bounce back game from Poole, who struggled mightily in Thursday’s win over the LA Clippers, with an abundance of missed shots and turnovers.
Not against the Kings. Poole was in control from the opening tip, and was happier attacking the hoop than settling for long jumpers (though he made a few of those, too).
JP3⃣ got buckets in a whole bunch of ways last night ️ pic.twitter.com/JkHhshZtvh— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 25, 2021
But most impressive might have been his defense, which looks dramatically improved over his first two years.
10 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0-for-5 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 2-2 free throws, 0
In the two games since, Bjelica hasn’t repeated his breakout performance from the season opener and, curiously, has seen a bit of a dip in minutes. That’s just how it goes on a team with this depth, I suppose.
He still looks great, fitting in with the offense beautifully and showing a penchant for making the right reads. He just struggled to make an impact in this game.
Otto Porter Jr.
24 minutes, 5 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 4 fouls, 2-for-6 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, +7
I’m not sure if porter was trying to impersonate Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala, but whatever he was doing, I recommend he keeps doing it.
Porter’s shot didn’t fall, but everything else showed exactly why so many people thought the Warriors get an absolute steal when they signed him for a veteran’s minimum. Porter hit the glass in a frenzy, played tenacious defense, kept the ball moving, and seemingly always made the right play.
That’s the key to a good bench player.
15 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, +1
A pretty typical JTA game. He made a huge three, played exceptional defense, grabbed some boards, dished some dimes, high-fived some teammates, and called it a night.
23 minutes, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 foul, 4-for-8 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, +6
For the first time this season, the Warriors can say that they probably would have won the game without Lee. That’s not at all an indictment of his play though, as he once again was super solid.
Lee seems more comfortable attacking the basket right now, rather than just settling for threes, and his aggression on both ends of the court paid dividends.
Gary Payton II
17 minutes, 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 foul, 4-for-6 shooting, 2-for-2 threes, +6
After playing just 10 seconds in the first two games combined, GP2 got some serious run against the Kings. That’s probably how the season will go for him: the Warriors won’t rely on him in most, games, but when the equation is right (as it was on Sunday, with the Warriors playing a team reliant on perimeter scorers and playmakers, and without Andre Iguodala), he can play. And he can make a difference.
The Dubs got exactly what they ordered from Payton: electric defense. And on top of it they got a quality offensive showing, with Payton’s three-ball looking like a weapon.
Gary Payton II provided a second-half spark tonight in the dub ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/1awp8v1siD— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 25, 2021
Sunday’s DNPs: Jeff Dowtin, Moses Moody
Sunday’s inactives: Chris Chiozza, Andre Iguodala, Jonathan Kuminga, Klay Thompson, James Wiseman