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Player grades: Warriors vs. Nuggets Game 2

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 126-106 win over Denver.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are officially cooking. Sure, it’s just the first round of the playoffs, and yes, better teams await should the Dubs advance. But a second dominant win over the Denver Nuggets, this time 126-106, has it looking like the Warriors are serious contenders to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in two months.

It’s a 2-0 lead in the series. So let’s grade the players from the excellent team performance, weighting for our expectations of each.

Note: league-average true-shooting percentage was 56.6% this season.

Draymond Green

30 minutes, 6 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 51.0% TS, +20

If you look at the box score, it wasn’t the most exciting game by Green. But looking at the box score is rarely the way to judge Draymond, and Steve Kerr made that abundantly clear after the game.

That really sums it up perfectly. Green’s fingerprints were all over this game, even if they weren’t all over the stat sheet. He was the primary defensive assignment on Nikola Jokić, who looked frustrated all night long, and ultimately got ejected.

This version of Dray is very close to the 2014-15 and 2015-16 version, and that’s one of the best basketball players on the planet.

Grade: A+

Andrew Wiggins

31 minutes, 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 5-for-9 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 1-for-3 free throws, 63.0% TS, +24

For the first two games of the playoffs, Wiggins has found his role and played it perfectly. Gone are the isolations and ball-stopping contested long twos. He’s spacing the floor and shooting threes when open. He’s cutting to the rim when he doesn’t have the ball. He’s playing strong defense. And perhaps most importantly, he’s putting full effort into pulling down rebounds.

The new death lineup is playing unstoppable basketball, and that’s in part because of Wiggins’ commitment to doing the little things, and willingness to be the fourth option on offense.

Grade: A-

Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.

Kevon Looney

11 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 fouls, 0-for-2 shooting, 0.0% TS, +2

It’s pretty clear that we’re not going to see much of Looney this series. It’s not a knock on him, just a sign that the Dubs have figured out their small ball lineup. They might start with it on Thursday, or they might keep playing Looney for the first few minutes of each half.

Grade: C

Klay Thompson

36 minutes, 21 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 fouls, 9-for-19 shooting, 3-for-8 threes, 55.3% TS, +13

One of the best things that Klay is doing right now is providing flurries. Even when he has games where his efficiency is only average, he’s likely to have a span of a few minutes where he goes scorched earth and turns a deficit into a lead, or a small lead into a big lead. And those moments really pump the Warriors and their fans up, and demoralize the opponent and their fanbase.

He caught fire for a stretch in this one, and you could feel the wind leaving the Nuggets sails.

Grade: B

Jordan Poole

34 minutes, 29 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 10-for-16 shooting, 5-for-10 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 81.6% TS, +7

Poole’s performance was magical, but rather than try and describe how great it was for the umpteenth time, I’m just going to drop this thought I had during the post-game presser.

Listening to Steph Curry and Draymond Green talk about Poole makes it abundantly clear that they have total confidence in him, and believe he needs to be on the floor. He’s ready for the moment, he’s craving for the moment, and he’s become a star.

It’s hard to see the Warriors keeping him off the court. Now let’s watch some unreal highlights.

Grade: A+

Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.

Nemanja Bjelica

16 minutes, 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 5-for-6 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 83.3% TS, +3

Bjeli didn’t have the gaudy assist total that he sometimes does, but this was a very strong game for him. He helped frustrate Jokić and DeMarcus Cousins, and was an aggressive scorer with some excellent cutting. The offense functioned really well with him on the court, and he held his own defensively.

Grade: B+

Jonathan Kuminga

5 minutes, 0 points, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, -3

I was curious if Kuminga might get a few minutes with Andre Iguodala out, but no, just garbage time. I suspect it will stay that way until the Warriors are struggling and Steve Kerr needs to try mixing things up. Kuminga will likely be the first name off the bench if that happens.

Grade: Incomplete

Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Otto Porter Jr.

22 minutes, 3 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1-for-5 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 30.0% TS, +4

Watching Porter play a huge role in this game made me think of only one thing: how happy he must be that he took a slightly smaller paycheck to play with the Dubs.

That decision sure looks good now, as he’s a huge bench piece for a team that looks like a serious title contender. And even though his shot isn’t falling, he’s playing really good basketball right now, and critical to what the team is doing on both ends of the court.

Grade: B

Juan Toscano-Anderson

5 minutes, 3 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1-for-1 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, 79.8% TS, -3

Garbage time for JTA, but he certainly spent it filling up the stat sheet!

Grade: Incomplete

Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Steph Curry

23 minutes, 34 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 12-for-17 shooting, 5-for-10 threes, 5-for-7 free throws, 84.7% TS, +32

When Draymond Green sat down for his post-game presser he looked at the stat sheet, saw Steph Curry’s line and plus/minus, and exclaimed, “Jesus!” Which is also what I exclaimed after this play.

I have no words for the performance Curry put on, in just his second game in the last month, while still dealing with pain in his foot.

He made half of his triples. He made all of his shots inside the arc. His team outscored the opponent by 34 points in his 23 minutes. The only stain was two missed technical free throws, which led to some funny quotes.

He’s very clearly still as good as anyone else on the planet, and when he gets back to playing full minutes? Watch out, world.

Grade: A+

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

Damion Lee

5 minutes, 4 points, 1-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 69.4% TS, -3

Garbage time for Lee, and always fun to see him knock in some shots.

Grade: Incomplete

Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Gary Payton II

18 minutes, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 3-for-4 free throws, 54.4% TS, +7

GPII made his presence felt on the defensive end, and definitely got under Jokić’s skin when he blocked the MVP’s shot and then, when going for a timeout, slapped him on the butt, eliciting quite a reaction.

I’m always amazed at how great Payton’s defense is on bigs. He knows just how to provide the perfect pesky help defense.

Grade: B+

Moses Moody

5 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 turnover, 0-for-1 shooting, 0.0% TS, -3

It’s always a good sign when your garbage-time players are the only ones with a negative plus/minus.

Grade: Incomplete

Post-game bonus: Tied for the worst plus/minus on the team.

Monday’s inactives: Andre Iguodala, James Wiseman