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Player grades: Warriors vs. Nuggets

Assessing every player from Golden State’s 128-123 loss to Denver.

Steph Curry attempting a layup Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Well, it didn’t take long to get in the loss column. The Golden State Warriors couldn’t overcome a disastrous second quarter on Friday night, losing 128-123 to the Denver Nuggets.

It was a frustrating game with way too many turnovers and way too few people playing defense. But there were some highlights. So let’s look at both of them by breaking out the red pen for some grades. As always, grades are weighted based on my expectations for each player.

Note: League-average true-shooting percentage (TS) last season was 56.6%.

Draymond Green

27 minutes, 13 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 6 fouls, 4-for-6 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 83.8% TS, +11

Green was arguably the biggest bright spot of the night. In a game defined by nonexistent defense, he played lots of it. But he also balanced it out with a strong offensive night as both a scorer and a passer, even if this doesn’t seem to be the year of the magical three ball.

The team looked competent when Green was on the court. They fell apart when he was off it. He looked as athletic and fit as he has in years, and was actually a factor scoring the ball.

Great to see.

Grade: A

Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists and plus/minus.

Andrew Wiggins

37 minutes, 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 2 fouls, 8-for-17 shooting, 2-for-8 threes, 5-for-7 free throws, 57.3% TS, +7

Wiggins came out of the gates firing, with seven early points. Then he went ice cold for a while. And then he bounced back and was absolutely excellent in the second half.

Green was the team’s best defensive player, but Wiggins was the only other one who gave good effort on that end of the court, and he had a few highlight defensive plays. Just like in the opener, he knocked down some big shots, and he was far and away the team’s most active player on the glass.

Really good performance, highlighted by the fact that he played 37 minutes. The team needs that from him right now.

Grade: A

Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.

Kevon Looney

19 minutes, 4 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 3 fouls, 2-for-4 shooting, 50.0% TS, +3

Looney did some good things, namely with his passing. He had a few nice defensive possessions on Nikola Jokić, too.

But the Warriors need more than one rebound out of him. He didn’t play poorly, he just didn’t do all that much.

Grade: B-

Steph Curry

36 minutes, 34 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 10-for-22 shooting, 5-for-11 threes, 9-for-9 free throws, 65.5% TS, +9

It was a three-player show for the Warriors, with Curry, Wiggins, and Green playing well, and no one else doing so. For the second straight game to open the year, Curry shot nine free throws. He’s continuing to be hyper aggressive on offense, both in breaking down the defense off the dribble and back cutting like it’s going out of style.

It wasn’t a good defensive game for him, but he’s on the court to score 34 points with wild efficiency, and that’s exactly what he did.

Grade: A

Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.

Klay Thompson

24 minutes, 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers, 6-for-14 shooting, 4-for-10 threes, 57.1% TS, +9

I don’t think Klay played super well in this game, yet it was still an encouraging performance. He’s really starting to look like the Klay of old, and I feel very optimistic about the year that he’ll have.

That said, it was a tough defensive game for him, and he struggled to impact the game when he wasn’t catching and shooting. His off ball movement still isn’t quite there, and the turnovers came from a few forced plays.

An encouraging game from him, if not a particularly good one, if that makes sense.

Grade: B-

Jonathan Kuminga

8 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 2-for-2 shooting, 100.0% TS, -10

Kuminga was much better than his disaster in the first game, but he still didn’t play well. He made a lot of mistakes given his limited minutes, and his defense was atrocious.

That said, Steve Kerr did him no favors, sticking him in a lineup that featured both James Wiseman and JaMychal Green. I’m not sure what the coaching staff was thinking, but I’m not sure how they could have anticipated much success coming from that.

Grade: C

JaMychal Green

24 minutes, 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 50.0% TS, -10

A hot and cold performance for Green against the team he spent the last two seasons with. His aggression attacking the glass is a breath of fresh air, even if the rebounding totals don’t necessarily reflect it. He’s going to do a lot of damage on put-backs this season.

His defensive effort is spirited, but in this game it wasn’t particularly good.

Like Kuminga, he struggled a bit due to some funky lineups. He looked a lot better when playing with some of the starters.

Grade: B-

James Wiseman

16 minutes, 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 4-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 free throws, 87.0% TS, -14

A lot of highlights and a lot of lowlights, and I suspect that will be the case with almost every Wiseman game this year.

On the good side of things, he showed some great mental toughness at the free throw line. He went 0-for-4 in the opener and looked a little dejected. He bounced back in this one. He also displayed nice touch in the paint, finishing with patience and finesse, resulting in a highly-efficient offensive game.

On the bad side of things, it still doesn’t feel like he’s making a positive impact. He does a lot of good things on offense, but I don’t feel like they actually help the offense. He does a few good things on defense, but is still a pretty glaring weak point there.

The Warriors are trying to toe the line between winning and developing, and Wiseman is the representation of that, as it’s never clear whether he’s on the court for the former or the latter.

This grade might feel a little generous, but after his injuries my expectations are low.

Grade: B-

Donte DiVincenzo

10 minutes, 3 points, 2 fouls, 1-for-3 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 50.0% TS, -13

Two things can be true: DiVincenzo was awful in this game, and I’m still confused as to why he only played 10 minutes.

Grade: C-

Jordan Poole

27 minutes, 7 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists, 3 steals, 4 turnovers, 2-for-5 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 51.8% TS, -20

Really tough game for JP. He showed off his passing chops, and down the stretch he really buckled down with some good defense.

But other than that he was pretty bad. His offense lacked the aggression, finesse, and creativity that have come to define his game. He’s being given a much bigger role this year, tasked with running a funky-lineup second unit with Curry and Thompson off the court. Perhaps that’s giving him issues, or perhaps it’s just a two-game slump. Either way, he didn’t play well.

Grade: D+

Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.

Moses Moody

13 minutes, 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1-for-5 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 30.0% TS, +3

The Warriors played a 10-man rotation in the first half, with Moody glued to the bench. Then he took minutes from both Kuminga and DiVincenzo in the second half, and played pretty well, even taking some of Poole’s minutes in the late-game death lineup.

He continues to be a player who doesn’t make mistakes, but also rarely shows out with anything too noteworthy. I have no idea what his minutes will look like on any given night.

Grade: B

Friday’s DNPs: Ryan Rollins

Friday’s inactives: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Andre Iguodala, Ty Jerome, Anthony Lamb

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