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Player grades: Warriors vs. Suns

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 119-116 loss to Phoenix.

Stephen Curry with his hands on his head. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Well, the Golden State Warriors did it. They lost again, this time falling 119-116 to the Phoenix Suns. In a vacuum, losing a single-possession game to a very good Suns team on the road ain’t that bad, even when you account for Kevin Durant being sidelined. But this game, in addition to giving us excitement, drama, and hope, gave us a whole lot of frustration, sadness, bewilderment, and exasperation.

So let’s Grade the players:

Starters: F

Bench: A

Hey, that was quick and easy! Have a good night, everyone!

OK fine, we’ll grade the individual players, too. 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. Entering Tuesday’s games, league-average TS was 57.7%.

Draymond Green

17 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 1-for-3 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 33.3% TS, -15

Early in the third quarter, Green got ejected. It was the third time that he’s been ejected this season, despite playing in only 15 games. All three ejections have come in a close game with tons of time remaining.

On the one hand, I do actually agree with Green that he did not try to hit Jusuf Nurkić, though the quote about it is downright hilariously eye-rolling.

If Green had been playing well at the time of his ejection, I would maybe consider giving him a salvageable grade. But he was playing poorly. Very poorly.

And then he took himself out of the game. Again.

Grade: F

Kevon Looney

11 minutes, 0 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 fouls, -13

Looney has not been playing well lately. And he didn’t play well against Nurkić the first two times these teams played.

You could kind of see this coming. He was a menace on the glass in the first quarter, which was awesome. But he was removed from the starting lineup to start the second half, and played just three minutes in the half. And for good reason.

Grade: D+

Andrew Wiggins

15 minutes, 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 1-for-7 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 21.4% TS, -19

Wiggins was also removed from the starting lineup to start the third quarter, and played sparingly in the second half. He was bad. He looked disinterested on both sides of the court. He looked like he did not want to show off any athleticism or aggression. He played like he wanted the game to end, and looked disengaged on the bench. He now has 42 turnovers to 24 assists. I’ve never seen anything like that from a wing.

I don’t think there is any argument that Wiggins is playing better than Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, or Brandin Podziemski. And it seems as though Steve Kerr has reached a breaking point where he’ll distribute minutes accordingly.

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

Steph Curry

32 minutes, 24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 8-for-24 shooting, 4-for-15 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 46.6% TS, -15

Curry was the only starter worth playing in this game. Genuinely. He scored two-thirds of the starting lineup’s points.

That said, it wasn’t a very good game for him, either. But I was encouraged by the fact that he took good care of the ball, which his been a huge issue lately, for Steph and for everyone on the Warriors.

But he didn’t score very efficiently. I should probably give him a worse grade, but I’m going to give him a buffer for being surrounded by starters who looked like they’d rather be watching Wheel of Fortune reruns than playing basketball.

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

Klay Thompson

27 minutes, 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 2-for-10 shooting, 1-for-8 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 32.2% TS, +4

A very bad game for Klay. He was definitely better than Wiggins ... the shots weren’t falling, but he was engaged and playing hard, and I thought had a pretty decent game defensively. And, to his credit, he’s taking the late-game benching in stride.

Klay had been playing better lately, so hopefully this was just a blip.

Grade: D-

Dario Šarić

20 minutes, 15 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 fouls, 5-for-9 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 69.7% TS, +21

Šarić nearly fouled out, which showed part of the problem he presents. Right now he’s simply a much better player than Looney. But especially against certain matchups, it’s hard to keep him on the court because of defense.

His defense was really good this game though, other than the fouling. Heck, every part of his game was really good, and the Warriors would have been in a world of hurt without him.

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

Jonathan Kuminga

29 minutes, 16 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 6-for-10 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 3-for-7 free throws, 61.2% TS, +13

Watching Kuminga blossom on offense has been an absolute joy. Lately you can see it click for him as he figures out how he can use his elite athleticism to generate easy looks at the bucket. As a result, we’re seeing far more uncontested shots for him, and his lob game is starting to take off.

But while the offensive evolution has put a smile on my face, it’s the defense that is probably putting a smile on Kerr’s face. JK seems to be getting better almost every game on that end of the court, and in this game Kerr trusted the third-year forward with playing on-ball defense against Devin Booker. It worked! Kuminga was awesome, and he had a few critical plays in the final minutes to keep Golden State’s hopes alive.

Grade: A+

Trayce Jackson-Davis

7 minutes, 2 points, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 foul, 1-for-1 shooting, 100.0% TS, -6

Jackson-Davis hadn’t played since November 24, and then Kerr put him in to start the third quarter in a one-point game on national TV. And he handled that assignment very well.

Grade: B+

Chris Paul

30 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 5-for-8 shooting, 3-for-4 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, 80.5% TS, +12

On the one hand, the Chris Paul era has not gone the way the Dubs envisioned. On the other hand, I think CP3 has been the second-best Warrior this season and I don’t think it is particularly close or up for debate.

If Kerr is going to start to move away from Klay and Wiggins, expect to see Paul creep back towards starter minutes.

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

Moses Moody

24 minutes, 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 3-for-6 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 4-for-6 free throws, 69.4% TS, -15

At one point during the broadcast, Stan Van Gundy said, “I never have one of those moments where I think ‘what the heck is he doing?’” in reference to Moody. Summed it up perfectly.

Don’t let the plus/minus fool you. Moody, like Curry, merely had the misfortune of spending a lot of time on the court with the starters.

Grade: A-

Brandin Podziemski

29 minutes, 20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 9-for-14 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 0-for-1 free throws, 69.3% TS, +18

If you had told me that Podziemski would be playing this well in his third year, I would have been stoked. But here he is. He’s less than two months into his first season, and right now he’s playing better than most people on the team.

Kerr justified playing Kuminga and Podziemski over Wiggins (an All-Star) and Thompson (a future Hall of Famer) by saying that they were simply playing better.

It might be deeper than that, with Kerr wanting to send a message to the veterans in hopes that it will jump start them. It also might not be deeper than that, because Kuminga and Podziemski are playing better than Wiggins and Thompson right now.

And Podziemski’s combination of composure, creativity, and courageousness was on full display once again on Tuesday. As was his outstanding rebounding, and shocking ability to get to the rim with seeming ease. It almost led to a sensational comeback.

This dude is going to be a very, very good player, for a very long time.

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

Tuesday’s DNPs: Cory Joseph

Tuesday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Gary Payton II, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson, Gui Santos

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