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Player grades: Warriors vs. Clippers

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 121-113 loss to LA.

Jonathan Kuminga flying to the rim for a layup. Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors lost again on Thursday, as they’ve been doing a lot lately. They lost 121-113 to the Los Angeles Clippers, in a game that was very frustrating simply because we’re all so desperate for them to win.

If we weren’t, the game wouldn’t be too frustrating. They didn’t blow a big lead. They didn’t make a series of head-scratching, infuriating mistakes. I thought they played really well. It just so happened that playing well wasn’t enough when on the road against the hottest team in the NBA.

So it sometimes goes.

Let’s grade the players. As always, grades are based on my expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.

Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. Entering Thursday’s games, league-average TS was 57.7%.

Jonathan Kuminga

25 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 5-for-10 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 66.3% TS, +5

Kuminga got the starting nod in place of the indefinitely-suspended Draymond Green. It’s unfair to ask him to do the things that Dray did, but we can ask him to do good things ... and good things he did. As he’s been doing a lot of lately.

Apologies if I sound like a broken record, but two things stood out to me in this game ... things that have been standing out to me a lot lately.

The first is the evolution of his offensive game. There was so much to like about what JK did in this game, from the decisions, to the vision, to the ability. One play in particular stood out to me, when he caught the ball on the wing behind the arc, jab-stepped, pump faked, and then worked his way into the paint for an easy two. When he first entered the league, instead of jab-stepping, he would have put his head down and went full speed to the rim in a straight line, likely running into congestion. As he got more experience, he would have laid down that first jab-step, then risen up for a contested, early shot clock three. This time he used the threat of both, then combined his athleticism with his craftiness, and got an easy look. He’s been getting a lot of those lately.

The second is the defense that continues to look leaps and bounds ahead of his first two years in the league. He spent significant time on both James Harden and Kawhi Leonard in this game, and while they both had strong outings, I thought Kuminga played really good D on them.

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

Kevon Looney

26 minutes, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 57.1% TS, 0 plus/minus

Looney has been struggling a bit lately, but this was a solid game from him. Not a super noteworthy game, but a very solid one, in which he really helped stabilize both the offense and the defense.

Grade: B+
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in rebounds and assists.

Steph Curry

34 minutes, 17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 5-for-17 shooting, 3-for-13 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 45.3% TS, -3

For a lot of this game, there was a feeling that the Warriors were treading water and would have a great chance at winning as soon as Curry started to heat up. Unfortunately, Curry never really heated up.

He had a few huge shots and some highlight plays. And it was his second straight contest of doing a significantly better job of taking care of the ball. But it just wasn’t the star performance that we’re accustomed to.

Grade: C

Klay Thompson

32 minutes, 30 points, 1 rebound, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 foul, 9-for-15 shooting, 8-for-12 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 89.5% TS, -12

Had the Warriors won, Klay would have been the story of the game. It was a sight for sore eyes, as Thompson — struggling to shoot lately — knocked down a three on the first possession of the game, and went on to score the first eight points of the contest. He caught fire in the third quarter when the Dubs were in danger of losing sight of LAC, and finished with 16 points in the frame.

His playmaking and decision-making were strong, and he continues to take good care of the ball. The Dubs might be all right if this version of Klay can show up consistently. Unfortunately, while we’ve spent a lot of the season wondering if Klay can be the help some of his teammates need, tonight he needed help from them, and didn’t get it.

Grade: A
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points, tied for the team lead in assists, worst plus/minus on the team.

Brandin Podziemski

35 minutes, 4 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 2-for-11 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 18.2% TS, -8

Before the season, no one would have believed you if you told them that Podziemski could play 35 minutes, score just four points, and still have a positive impact on the game. But here we are.

At first people thought he was just a shooter; then he upgraded to just a scorer; and now, scoring sometimes fees like the least important thing he does.

The dude is an absolute menace on the glass. It felt like he had 20 rebounds, because he was involved anytime the ball was in the air, and kept plenty of plays alive that he didn’t get credit for. He’s a pest defensively, disrupting passing lanes, deflecting balls, and getting in the way of offensive players. He opened up on James Harden, and more than held his own. He is creativity personified, with a game that looks heavily influenced by the most famous player from his alma mater: Steve Nash.

He entered the starting lineup on Thursday, replacing Andrew Wiggins. A non-lottery pick rookie, replacing someone who was an All-Star two seasons ago. Who could have seen that coming?

The offense was inefficient. But the basketball was still good.

Grade: B+
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in rebounds.

Dario Šarić

17 minutes, 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 2-for-5 shooting, 1-for-4 threes, 50.0% TS, +3

A fairly nondescript game from Šarić. Nothing too good of note; nothing too bad of note.

Grade: B-

Trayce Jackson-Davis

5 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1-for-3 shooting, 33.3% TS, -11

TJD, somewhat surprisingly, was on the floor to start the second quarter. He did some good things, even as the Dubs fell apart.

Grade: B

Andrew Wiggins

22 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 5 fouls, 4-for-9 shooting, 0-for-4 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 45.5% TS, -7

Wiggins came off the bench in a regular season game for the first time in his 10-year NBA career. I was curious to see if we could gather any insight into his demeanor.

It didn’t seem like we couldn’t. Wiggins didn’t seem notably engaged or disengaged. His three-point shot continues to be completely absent — he’s just 19-for-72 on the year — and there’s really no playmaking. But he got some good stuff when he worked towards the rim.

If he’s going to be a good contributor again this season, the Warriors need him to either make threes or play good defense. Unfortunately, he’s not really doing either of those things.

Grade: C-

Chris Paul

29 minutes, 12 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 4-for-9 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 60.7% TS, -11

CP3 had one of the biggest shots of the game, making a tough fadeaway, deep three to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, capping a big rally that pulled Golden State within three points entering the final frame.

His scoring has returned in a big way after opening his Dubs tenure with some very inefficient games.

All that said, it didn’t feel like the best CP3 game. There wasn’t too much playmaking, and there were some mistakes on both ends of the court.

Grade: C+

Moses Moody

16 minutes, 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 4-for-6 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 70.9% TS, +4

It was a quiet game for Moody ... but a quietly excellent game. If anyone expected him to sulk after being passed over for Kuminga and Podziemski in the starting lineup, well ... it sure as heck didn’t happen. He just did what he does best: show up, and play mostly mistake-free basketball.

More minutes, please.

Grade: A-

Thursday’s DNPs: Cory Joseph

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

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