The Golden State Warriors had an absolutely delightful Thursday night.
It started with the news that not only had Steph Curry been named an All-Star starter, but Andrew Wiggins had, too. And then it got into a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which featured a brilliant Splash Brothers performance, general team excellence, and a 124-115 win.
All things considered, it was a good night. But let’s grade the players, weighting for expectation, and enjoying a fourth straight notch in the W column.
Otto Porter Jr.
26 minutes, 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, +3
Porter is really starting to settle into his starting role with Draymond Green injured, which is a good thing — because it looks like it will be a while before Dray is back.
This wasn’t exactly a Draymondian performance, but that’s not what the Dubs are asking of Porter. He was an efficient offensive option, played quality defense, and generally just fit well with everything Golden State was doing.
36 minutes, 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 foul, 7-for-12 shooting, 5-for-8 threes, 0-for-2 free throws, +16
It might be safe to say that this was the most impressive day of Wiggins’ career. He got voted to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career, and not only that, but as a starter — courtesy of finishing third among frontcourt players in the fan vote, fifth in the player vote, and sixth in the media vote.
On top of that, he learned of his All-Star nod in the most wholesome manner imaginable.
Andrew Wiggins says he found out that he was an All-Star starter by getting woken up from his nap by his daughter.— Kendra Andrews (@kendra__andrews) January 28, 2022
" 'You're a starter! You're a starter!' I thought I was dreaming for a second."
And then he suited up his sneakers, faced off against his original team, and had one of his better games of the season, with exceptional play on both ends of the court.
I don’t think he’ll ever forget this day.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
24 minutes, 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 6 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 3-for-4 free throws, +12
Looney was given the impossible task of trying to defend Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the most talented and versatile offensive centers in NBA history. And it just so happened to be a day when KAT was playing like a man possessed.
It was a day where the Warriors probably would have liked to have multiple options at the position, but Looney did what he could before fouling out.
38 minutes, 29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 4 turnovers, 1 foul, 10-for-20 shooting, 6-for-10 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, +13
Well, that was a sight for sore eyes. Curry popped out of his slump in a lovely way, making more than 50% of his threes for the first time since Dec. 23. He also had some of his most impressive passes of the season, all while leading an offense that looked like it’s ready to burst out and take flight.
A few more games like that and Curry will be right back at or near the top of the MVP rankings.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points, rebounds, and assists.
27 minutes, 23 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 1 foul, 9-for-16 shooting, 5-for-9 threes, +4
On Tuesday, Klay had his best game since returning to the court for the first time in two and a half years. And on Thursday, he one-upped himself. If you slipped into a coma sometime in the first half of 2019, and woke up to watch Thursday’s game, you would have no clue that Thompson had missed a few years while dealing with two of the most debilitating injuries a basketball player can suffer, or that this was only his eighth game back.
It just looked like Klay. A Klay who had spent the summer working on his passing, admittedly.
Also, I don’t think I’m saying anything too bold when I assert that the Dubs will probably win most games in which Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins combine to shoot 16-for-27 from beyond the arc.
16 minutes, 5 points, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 2-for-2 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, +9
A game after gobbling up 10 boards in 18 minutes, it was kind of funny to see Bjeli put up a donut in the rebounding column. But my goodness he showed off his passing chops in this one, and I really appreciate how he’s been fighting for better, closer looks lately, instead of just camping out at the three-point line and hoisting 25-footers (though he’s quite good at that).
On the other end of the court it was a bit more awkward. Not only did Bjelica fail to clean the glass at all, but he got absolutely worked on defense. Minnesota attacked him rather relentlessly, and it proved to be a decently sound strategy.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
18 minutes, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0-for-2 free throws, -14
I’ve said a few times before that Kuminga will excel in some matchups, and struggle a little bit in others. This one fell into the latter camp, as Minny offered the length and athleticism to disrupt the rookie’s game a little bit.
Definitely a good learning lesson for him.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
2 minutes, 0 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover, +2
JTA played sparingly in this game, only appearing (to my memory at least) to spell Looney when foul trouble came knocking.
14 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1-for-3 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, -13
All things considered, it just wasn’t a very good game for the bench, period. Credit to Lee for limiting the mistakes, and not having any turnovers or fouls, but it was a mostly lackluster appearance.
Gary Payton II
15 minutes, 4 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 2-for-2 shooting, +9
Night in and night out I have my mind blown by the fact that someone GP2’s size can rebound and block shots the way he can. It’s just tremendous.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
24 minutes, 19 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 5-for-10 shooting, 3-for-4 threes, 6-for-6 free throws, +4
Oh yeah, this was a fun Poole performance. He’s gaining a little bit of consistency as the season goes on, and really settling into his bench role. This was just a magnificent bench performance in all phases of the game — the type of performance that makes the Warriors watchable when Steph sits, and that can be the difference in a seven-game series.
Thursday’s DNPs: Moses Moody
Thursday’s inactives: Chris Chiozza, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Quinndary Weatherspoon, James Wiseman