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Player grades: Warriors vs. Cavs

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 115-104 loss to Cleveland.

Steph Curry driving by a Cavs defender. Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors suffered their first road loss of the season on Sunday afternoon, losing 115-104 to a defensively-brilliant Cleveland Cavaliers team. It was an ugly and frustrating loss, but also not a very concerning one at all. Cleveland, healthy for the first time all year and with something to prove, brought their A-game. The Warriors could not buy a bucket, even on the occasions when they got open looks.

And so they lost. It happens sometimes. It didn’t really feel like a game to read too much into.

Before they turn around and face the Detroit Pistons on Monday evening, it’s time to hand out some quick grades. As always, grades are based on my expectations for each player, 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. Last year, league-average TS was 58.1%.

Draymond Green

29 minutes, 18 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover, 5-for-11 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 6-for-6 free throws, 66.0% TS, -6

There were a lot of reasons why the Dubs lost on Sunday. Draymond Green was not one of those reasons. His early-season shooting continues to be a revelation that could be an absolute game-changer for Golden State if it proves at all sustainable. He’s shooting 46.2% on threes (he shot 28.6% the last five seasons) and 85.7% on free throws (72.2% over the last five years).

Obviously those numbers won’t stay that high, but if they rested somewhere in between where they currently are and where they have been in recent years, it could transform Golden State’s offense.

Dray was also the only Warrior who had a good playmaking day, and he played solid defense without fouling. I can’t give him a great grade because he — like pretty much everyone — got worked on the glass. But it was still a really good game.

Grade: A-
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.

Kevon Looney

15 minutes, 2 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, -6

You can certainly understand why Steve Kerr went away from Looney in this game. Against a significantly larger team, the Dubs decided that trying to match up traditionally would be a death sentence, and instead attempted to create mismatches of their own with smaller, more athletic, and shooter-heavy lineups.

Still, it’s hard not to notice that Looney gobbled up 11 rebounds in 15 minutes in a game where Golden State looked overwhelmed on the glass. And throwing in five assists there is pretty darn impressive, too.

This will be how it goes for Looney this year. Kerr will rely on him to play true starter minutes some nights, and limit him to a smallish role on others. The flow of the game and the matchup will dictate a lot. Looney not playing much made sense, even though he played really well in the minutes when he was on the court.

Grade: A-
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.

Andrew Wiggins

26 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 foul, 3-for-9 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 1-for-4 free throws, 37.2% TS, -5

Wiggins had his second straight game with five rebounds, which is great to see, after he had just five rebounds total in the three previous games combined. But it’s a little bit hard to find positives beyond that.

The overall numbers are fairly ugly. Wiggins has per-36 minute averages of 16.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.6 turnovers, and 3.0 fouls per game. He has no steals yet this year, and just three blocked shots. He’s shooting 50.0% on two-pointers which, while below his average with the Warriors, is a decent number, but he’s compounding it by shooting 20.0% on threes and 57.7% on free throws.

He’s been unable to work his way into the closing lineup this year, and the 5-2 Warriors have been outscored by 38 points when he’s been on the court ... and have outscored teams by 73 points when he’s on the bench.

The good news is that Kerr says he’s not worried about Wiggins. So patience is warranted.

Grade: C-

Steph Curry

31 minutes, 28 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 6 turnovers, 8-for-16 shooting, 7-for-11 threes, 5-for-6 free throws, 75.1% TS, -6

Curry’s attack on shooting percentages remains relentless. His 40 made threes are 11 more than the next-highest total in the NBA (Lauri Markkanen), and only nine players in the league have made half as many threes as he has ... and he’s done it while shooting 48.8% from deep, with a comical 75.3% true-shooting percentage (Curry has twice led the league in TS, at 66.9% and 67.5%).

For a Warriors team getting shut down by Cleveland’s defense, Curry was having no issues scoring.

But it wasn’t a very good all-around game for the chef. He didn’t impact the glass like he normally does, and while he avoided his silly reach-in fouls that often plague him, it certainly wasn’t his cleanest defensive performance, either. And of course, the six turnovers speak for themselves.

Grade: B+
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.

Klay Thompson

32 minutes, 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 5-for-14 shooting, 3-for-9 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 50.4% TS, -12

Not too much to say about Klay in this game. No part of his performance was a disaster or something to point to for why Golden State lost. But no part of his performance was particularly good, either.

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

Dario Šarić

13 minutes, 0 points, 5 rebounds, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 0-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, -4

After two consecutive strong scoring games, Šarić was a non-factor offensively in this game. The rebounding remains a pleasant surprise, though: his 12.8 rebounds per 36 minutes are not very far behind Looney or Trayce Jackson-Davis.

But other than that, he had a very forgettable outing.

Grade: C-

Jonathan Kuminga

20 minutes, 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 5-for-14 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 4-for-5 free throws, 46.3% TS, -9

Kuminga once again showed his potential to be the second-unit isolation scorer that the Warriors would desperately love to have, and had once hoped Wiggins would fill. His athleticism and footwork have allowed him to regularly beat his man off the dribble and get to the rim, which was imperative against such a good Cleveland defense. Golden State badly needed someone who could break down the defense.

Unfortunately, JK struggled to score efficiently while doing that, and the rest of his game has a potential to disappear when he takes on a higher scoring load. We’re seeing the good and the bad of his amazing evolution in front of us.

Grade: C+

Trayce Jackson-Davis

12 minutes, 5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 4 fouls, 2-for-3 shooting, 1-for-5 free throws, 48.1% TS, +8

Draymond asked for the Warriors to bring back the rookies, and he got exactly that. And the good and the bad was on display with TJD, who got some critical minutes. Playing against a tall and athletic lineup with two All-Star caliber bigs in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, TJD was humbled on some possessions, giving up easy buckets and committing fouls, and the free throw numbers speak for themselves.

He also made a huge positive impact on many possessions. He made the Dubs competitive on the glass in his minutes, showed great skills around the rim, and got out in transition.

I’m not sure I’d label it a good game, but it was an exceptionally encouraging one. He’s becoming part of the rotation, and deserves to be.

Grade: B
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.

Chris Paul

25 minutes, 5 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 2-for-10 shooting, 1-for-5 threes, 25.0% TS, -12

It’s safe to say that this was Paul’s worst game since donning a Dubs jersey. Golden State’s bench unit looked more like a liability than an asset for the first time this year, and while Paul would have had much gaudier assist numbers had his teammates hit open shots, he wasn’t able to right the ship when things were falling apart.

The shooting numbers will bounce back eventually, but for now they’re comically bad.

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

Cory Joseph

3 minutes, 0 points, 1 steal, +3

Joseph played a few minutes in the season opener when Curry was in foul trouble. Since then, he’s only appeared in garbage time. It seems that, until further notice, his role is veteran leader/emergency help. As it probably should be.

Grade: Incomplete

Gary Payton II

12 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 fouls, 2-for-7 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 35.7% TS, -10

GPII’s worst game of the year, probably on both ends of the court. Don’t really need to say much about it.

Grade: C-

Moses Moody

14 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 foul, 1-for-3 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 34.7% TS, -1

It’s safe to say that Moody’s second week of the season wasn’t as good as his first. After showing a lot of aggression to impact the game in multiple areas, Moody has been struggling to really put his stamp on games.

I thought is defense was really good in this game though, so the Warriors will be happy with that.

Grade: C+

Brandin Podziemski

8 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 0-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, +5

Pretty fun seeing Podz out there getting meaningful minutes. I’m shocked watching him, seeing how in control he is. Sure, he had two turnovers in eight minutes in this game, but he just doesn’t seem to make the type of mistakes you expect rookies to make ... especially 20-year old rookie guards.

He’s a joy to watch, and I’m sure he’ll take some valuable learning lessons from this game.

Grade: C+

Sunday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson

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