Wow. That was a game. The Golden State Warriors almost had arguably their most memorable win since June 2022, but fell just short on Tuesday, losing 104-101 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which was their fourth straight loss.
Despite playing without the three stalwarts of their dynasty, the Dubs took it to the hottest team in NBA, leading after the first, second, and third quarters, and bringing the action down to the wire.
Now let’s grade those players. As always, grades are based on my expectation for each Warrior, with a “B” grade representing the average performance for that player.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. Entering Tuesday’s games, league-average TS was 57.1%.
2 minutes, 0 points, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, -2
The game changed dramatically less than two minutes into a scoreless game, when Thompson and Jaden McDaniels got tangled up. McDaniels proceeded to drag Klay up the court, rip his jersey, and toss him to the ground, a kind act for which Thompson was generously awarded an ejection.
I usually give ejected players a bad grade for hurting the team. Maybe I’m being a homer. Call me out if I am. But I just don’t know what Thompson is supposed to do in that situation and I vehemently disagree with him getting tossed.
2 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 foul, -2
Draymond on the other hand...
This is objectively one of the funniest images I have ever seen pic.twitter.com/vvopfjpH6O— Shohei Ohtani Stan Account (@AndyKHLiu) November 15, 2023
He saw an opportunity to protect a teammate and fight his biggest adversary all at once, and he not only took that opportunity but locked in a guillotine and tried like hell to put Rudy Gobert to sleep.
Had Green got ejected for simply shoving or yelling at someone as he tried to defend Klay, I’d give him a pass. Sometimes it’s worth getting ejected, as the team’s inspired performance arguably proved.
But Green chose way more violence than was necessary, and not only was it pretty gross to see but it’s also going to hurt the Dubs in the long-term, because he’ll almost certainly be suspended.
Between foul trouble and a pair of ejections, Green has played just 44 minutes over the last three games. I’m usually a defender of him, but there’s no way to defend this one. Gotta be better, Dray.
32 minutes, 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 6-for-15 shooting, 3-for-11 threes, 6-for-6 free throws, 59.5% TS, -5
Steve Kerr told us something interesting by starting Šarić in this game over Kevon Looney. During Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, Šarić was clearly the better matchup ... so Kerr turned to him when the game began. And along the way, we learned that the starting lineup isn’t set in stone.
It was a good game for Dario, who hit the 20-point mark for the second time this season ... and just the third time that a Warrior other than Steph Curry has done that.
Dario for the lead?— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 15, 2023
Like his team, Šarić struggled to make threes, but that didn’t really slow him down too much. He was aggressive and worked his way to the hoop, where he shot 3-for-4 on twos and got to the free throw line regularly.
He also held his own on defense, which was no small feat against the two-center lineup of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. A really nice game.
28 minutes, 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 5 fouls, 4-for-15 shooting, 1-for-7 threes, 30.0% TS, +2
In the immediate aftermath of Green and Thompson’s ejections, I thought Wiggins came to life a bit. He was playing with energy, aggression, and athleticism, and that was reflected in the box score: his seven rebounds were a season high, and he nabbed three steals after having just two total entering the game.
That was the Wiggs the Warriors need to see, though unfortunately it didn’t really spill over to the rest of the game. He looked completely lost on offense, committing a season-high four turnovers without a single assist (he’s averaging fewer than one per game), looking scared of drawing contact and shooting free throws (where he’s just 50% on the year), and running his three-point tall to 5-for-33.
I thought he played pretty nice defense on Anthony Edwards, though he nearly fouled out in the process in just 28 minutes.
I’m not sure what the Warriors should do.
36 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 6-for-14 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 51.9% TS, -9
A bit to like and a bit to dislike for Paul, in his return to the starting lineup. He’s not the defender he once was, but his ability to be highly competitive on that end of the court without fouling is remarkable: he’s committed just 17 fouls this year, in 333 minutes.
His jump shot is coming around a bit, though his efficiency is still very much lagging. And him trying to help the Warriors flailing offense has come with a ball security cost ... he has nine turnovers in the last three games, after just seven in his first nine games.
CP3 tries so hard to balance being the focal point and giving some rope to the youngsters. I think this will be incredibly beneficial long-term, though there were plenty of times in this game where I thought the team would benefit from the Hall of Famer just taking matters into his own hands a little bit.
He wasn’t the star of the game, at all, but it was still a reminder that Curry missing games is not as bad as we’ve grown accustomed to. Also fun to see him do a Steph impression.
16 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 2-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 64.4% TS, -1
It was nice to see JK have an efficient game, even if it came on very low volume. But it’s also a sign of how much he’s stagnated after his excellent preseason that he only got 16 minutes in this game, despite the Warriors playing without three starters ... including the player Kuminga is supposed to be backing up.
He’s still a valuable rotation player right now, but the Warriors are trying to figure out his role, and he’s trying to figure out how to play it. But I loved the energy he brought in this game.
32 minutes, 2 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 1-for-4 shooting, 25.0% TS, +2
As he so often has proven the ability to do, Looney selflessly took a demotion and moved to the bench for a game. And then, naturally, he ended up playing his highest minutes total of the year. So it goes.
Looney played much better on Tuesday than he did on Sunday against the same team, and he helped keep Golden State competitive on the glass, where they actually won the battle. Without Green and Curry his offense was fairly nonexistent, but he’s there to set screens, grab rebounds, and play defense ... and he did those things.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
12 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 0-for-1 shooting, 2-for-2 free throws, 53.2% TS, -2
I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going to see more and more of TJD as the season goes on, but this game also was a reminder that rookies are not always going to play great. Jackson-Davis flashed some mighty impressive skills in this game, and his timing and athleticism rolling to the rim are huge assets for the Dubs. And I am loving seeing the assists.
He also showed some inexperience with the turnovers, fouls, and getting bodied a bit on the glass.
13 minutes, 6 points, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 2-for-6 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 0-for-1 free throws, 46.6% TS, +6
I thought CoJo played fairly well in this game, and reminded us as to his value as an emergency guard option. I also thought it was quite odd that he played as much as he did and that he shared the court with Paul at times. Not sure there’s a way to make that lineup work.
Gary Payton II
16 minutes, 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 foul, 3-for-5 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 70.0% TS, -3
Where would this Warriors team be without GPII? I don’t even want to think about that. Every night he just seems to do a little bit of everything: defend small players, defend large players, create positive chaos, get the team out in transition, crash the glass, cut to the hoop, stop the bleeding. He’s just such a good player and I love watching him.
14 minutes, 11 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 4-for-6 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 79.9% TS, -12
Perhaps the best way to describe Moody’s game is by saying that I wish he had played all of Joseph’s minutes, too. Although I guess that may not sound like too big of a compliment.
Either way, it’s hard to justify Moody getting so few minutes, especially when he’s playing well. But it’s even harder to find more minutes for him, even when players are out.
The Warriors may be struggling right now, but there’s no way around the fact that they have a whole lot of players who deserve to be getting minutes.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
39 minutes, 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls, 9-for-18 shooting, 3-for-8 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 60.9% TS, +11
And now we arrive at the coming out party. On a Warriors team with future Hall of Famer Paul, former All-Star Wiggins, and proven veterans and lottery picks, Podziemski was far and away the team’s best player. And against a team with Towns, Gobert, and Edwards, you could even make the case that Podziemski was the best player on the court.
Brandin Podziemski— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 15, 2023
ARE YOU KIDDING ME ⁉️ pic.twitter.com/IEF3VC5zfz
And he’s a 20 year old who had played 52 career minutes entering the night.
Podz was remarkable in every sense. He was hyper competitive on defense, and well he may never be a star on that end of the court, it’s increasingly clear that the pre-draft concerns were overblown. He is an absolute disruptor on the glass ... he has 23 rebounds in 91 minutes, and that number underscores just how much work he does with the Windex.
He set teammates up, creating offense in ways that the five assists in the box score don’t show. He quarterbacked the offense, made the pass that led to the pass, and manipulated the opposing defense not unlike another young and tough San Francisco athlete who went overlooked in a recent draft (I’m still thinking about that pass to George Kittle, if it wasn’t obvious).
And in this game we saw the brilliance of his offense, which is the primary reason he flew up boards as the draft approached. The craftiness to get in the lane, the creativity to shoot a wide variety of shots from different angles, the touch to knock down jumpers and floaters alike, and the fearlessness to attack the rim no matter who is standing there.
It wasn’t just a good game. It was a good game that built on other good games, that built on a good training camp. And because of that, it felt sustainable. It wasn’t a flash in the pan, and Kerr admitted that after the game by anointing Podziemski as an everyday player.
Steve Kerr on Brandin Podziemski: "He's going to play. He's going to play every night." Kerr said he's earned it. Mentioned his rebounding. "He connects the game."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 15, 2023
The Warriors need a boost. It sure looks like they might have found one.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points, assists, and plus/minus.
Tuesday’s DNPs: Gui Santos
Tuesday’s inactives: Steph Curry, Usman Garuba, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson