Well, well, well. That sure was interesting! The Golden State Warriors played their worst game of the young season, but thanks to some late-game theatrics from Klay Thompson, they emerged with a 102-101 win over the Sacramento Kings.
It wasn’t pretty, at all. But all 30 teams have a plethora of ugly games, and last year the Warriors ugly games were almost all losses. An ugly win is still a win. And a win still makes the Dubs 4-1. And 4-1 still makes me happy.
There’s some red pen to use though, without a doubt. So let’s grade the players, weighing for our expectations of each player. As always, I grade with a “B” representing the average play for each player.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. Last year, league-average TS was 58.1%.
28 minutes, 13 points, 2 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 4-for-7 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 74.2% TS, -5
I said it after his first game, I said it after his second game, and I’ll say it after his third game: Green’s energy and conditioning are both impressive, and telling. He’s full of life and bounce after missing all of training camp, which is both a testament to how hard he’s worked, and a sign as to how much he believes in this team’s potential.
He set the tone in this game with two early threes — not really the person you usually expect to set the tone from beyond the arc — then switched into a playmaker and defensive menace role.
It wasn’t all pretty, but for the most part it was a sensational performance for someone who you would expect to still be rinsing off a few layers of rust.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
23 minutes, 6 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 3-for-4 shooting, 75.0% TS, 0 plus/minus
Offensively, this looked like the Looney who had something of a breakout season last year. The timing and angles of both his screens and rolls were fantastic, and rather than just catching the ball in the paint and trying to score, he repeatedly made the extra pass for an even easier look.
He made life difficult for Domantas Sabonis, even if Sabonis still got his in this contest. And he was in the closing lineup down the stretch, though he was subbed out in the final minutes for Gary Payton II, as the Dubs went small.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
25 minutes, 14 points, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 6-for-10 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 64.3% TS, -5
Right out of the gates, Wiggins was the best version that we’ve seen from him this year. He was aggressive but measured on offense, and putting a lot of energy forward on both ends of the court. He somewhat disappeared as the game went on, but it was still his best game of the year, I thought. And definitely his best offensive game.
Golden State definitely still needs more rebounds and assists from Wiggs — he has just 11 and three on the year, respectively — but his job is to play quality defense and knock down some shots, and he did both of those things on Wednesday, which was great to see.
32 minutes, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 7 turnovers, 3 fouls, 7-for-15 shooting, 4-for-10 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 64.3% TS, -6
Only Curry can have a rough game (by his standards) and make it seem like he’s struggling to score the ball, only for you to get to the end of the game and see that he had 21 points on remarkable efficiency. He’s that good.
It still was an off game for Curry, which is how the Warriors ended up needing last-second heroics to escape with a home with against a Kings team that was down their best player. But with De’Aaron Fox sidelined, Mike Brown slid defensive-ace Davion Mitchell into the starting lineup, and he played the type of game that will have Curry already looking towards November 28 for a little revenge.
Mitchell forced Curry into some serious sloppiness, as it felt like Curry was turning the ball over left and right, and especially at critical moments. Wardell still had some big shots when they mattered most, but this definitely wasn’t his best outing.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points, worst plus/minus on the team.
29 minutes, 14 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 6-for-15 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 45.3% TS, +10
My, my, my.
Klay started the game with some nice offense to help the Dubs jump out to an early lead, as he made three of his first four shots. Then he went pretty quiet for most of the game, though it’s worth noting that his defense continues to look much better than in the last two seasons.
And then, when the team needed him most, he showed up.
You think Klay likes playing against the Kings?
Klay Thompson hit the dagger with less that a second to go to get the Warriors' their 102-101 win over the Kings.— Kendra Andrews (@kendra__andrews) November 2, 2023
Thompson has hit 5 career go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds of a game... 3 of them have been against the Kings. Also his first go-ahead since Oct. 2018.
Plus he set the NBA record with 37 points in a single quarter against the Kings a few years ago.
He seems to enjoy this.
I’ve seen a lot of Warriors fans over the last year say that Thompson shouldn’t be in the closing lineup, and I couldn’t disagree more. Not only does he have a rolodex of clutch shots in his career, but the gravity and spacing that he provides is absolutely essential to help Curry get clean looks late in the game. Even when he’s not scoring efficiently, the offense just works so much better than Klay is on the court.
Anyway, you know the drill. You hit a game-winner and there’s only one grade for you...
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus and game-winners.
20 minutes, 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers, 1 foul, 6-for-9 shooting, 3-for-5 threes, 83.3% TS, +3
Now that’s the Šarić we were all looking forward to the Warriors signing. The one who, while still being able to bang in the paint at 6’10, can bop out to the three-point line with a silky smooth jumper befitting a much smaller player.
Šarić has been strong this season thanks to his decision-making, defense, and rebounding. But shooting has always been his calling card, and we this was the first time we really saw it in action. And my goodness what a weapon it is! It sure helps stabilize the bench unit when things start to go sideways.
Also, it’s quite nice seeing a bench big get consistent minutes night in and night out, after the sporadic playing time that JaMychal Green and Nemanja Bjelica got the last few years. Fewer turnovers though, please! And certainly not his best defensive game, though he made some big plays.
17 minutes, 12 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 4-for-9 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 58.1% TS, +3
Certainly not the most dynamic game that Kuminga has had in his first game back after a one-game absence due to a contusion. But his evolution as a player was on full display with how often he passed down shots to create for teammates or keep the ball moving.
He’s putting it all together. The rebounding was poor in this game, and it wasn’t his best defensive effort. So he doesn’t get a great grade, but it was still a game that left you excited for the future with JK.
28 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 fouls, 1-for-5 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 20.0% TS, +5
I have two big takeaways from Paul’s performance.
1. The way the second unit feels calm and collected, even when things aren’t going perfectly or there’s a deficit, is an absolute breath of fresh air. It’s something I can’t remember watching for a long, long time.
2. Harrison Barnes could back down CP3 in the post 100 times and I would expect him to score zero points.
Ratio watch: Paul now has 41 assists to six turnovers. Still is struggling to score, but that’s truly the only thing he isn’t doing right now.
Gary Payton II
22 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2-for-4 shooting, 50.0% TS, +5
This game really showed off Payton’s defensive importance and versatility. He seemed to guard every single Kings player in this game, and was on the court for the final two minutes as Golden State managed to just eke out a win.
You feel his presence on that end of the court at all times, the way you feel Curry’s on the other side.
Not his most active game in terms of cutting or attacking on offense, or gobbling up (or batting out) rebounds the way we all know he can. But still awesome.
15 minutes, 1 point, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 foul, 0-for-3 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 12.9% TS, -5
Moody’s play this year has been a revelation, but this was easily his worst game of the year. His shot wasn’t falling, and he fell into some of his old habits of offensive passivity.
On defense though? A completely different story. He continues to hunt out plays on that end of the court, and had one of the biggest highlights of the season with an incredible blocked shot.
As with Kuminga, we’re able to see the evolution of Moody’s game even when he’s not playing at his best.
Wednesday’s DNPs: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Cory Joseph, Brandin Podziemski
Wednesday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson