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Player grades: Warriors vs. Magic

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 121-115 win over Orlando.

Steph Curry celebrating as he runs down the court. D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors rang in the new year in style on Tuesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak with a quality 121-115 win over a tall and talented Orlando Magic team that came ready to play ... as they have all season. It was far from a perfect game, but I’d also argue that it was a better performance than the final score would indicate.

Both the Dubs and I were lucky in that I was taking holiday time off for two of their three recent losses. They didn’t want to get those grades and I didn’t want to waste time writing them. So this is a happier occasion. 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 58.0%.

Jonathan Kuminga

34 minutes, 19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 7-for-14 shooting, 1-for-5 threes, 4-for-5 free throws, 58.6% TS, +10

Earlier in the day I wrote that I wanted Kuminga to get true starter-level minutes, and consistently.

So far, so good — JK was second on the team in minutes on Tuesday. It came with a cost, as Moses Moody was a healthy DNP, but seeing Kuminga get to play like an actual starter was a lot of fun.

His play warranted it, too. He saved a few failing possessions with a bevy of isolation moves, but also showed a commitment to team-oriented offense, repeatedly making the extra pass ... and making it quickly, for that matter. He was one of the team’s best defensive players, and played a huge role in budding star Paolo Banchero having five turnovers.

A few more rebounds would be ideal, but for the most part, this was exactly what the Warriors want from Kuminga: a dedicated defender who knows how to paint within the lines of the offensive system, while occasionally painting outside the lines with violent athleticism and creativity.

Bravo, JK.

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

Trayce Jackson-Davis

24 minutes, 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 3-for-4 shooting, 4-for-6 free throws, 75.3% TS, -1

TJD got his second consecutive start ... no small feat for a second-round rookie on a team with two proven veteran options at the position. Things didn’t start out great for him this game, as Orlando’s tall and athletic squad repeatedly attacked the paint in the opening possessions, giving the Magic an early 11-2 lead.

But Jackson-Davis settled in and played quite well. There are still some rookie bumps and bruises, such as some late rotations on defense, some swiping, and a few offensive plays where he missed the right action by a split second. But that pales in comparison to how much he adds a new dimension to the team.

He’s been great at rebounding this year, though he was outmatched a little in this one (but better than the final totals suggest). It’s beginning to look like he might be the starting center for the long haul.

Grade: B+

Chris Paul

30 minutes, 12 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 3-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 88.8% TS, -8

It was a quiet statistical game for CP3, but if you watched closely, it was pretty clear that he was one of the best players on the court. He just kept the engine running at all times, and when the team really needed it, he called his own number and made big shots.

In my opinion, Paul has been the second-best Warrior this season. In my opinion, it hasn’t been close.

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

Steph Curry

35 minutes, 36 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 12-for-20 shooting, 4-for-9 threes, 8-for-11 free throws, 72.5% TS, +12

Three missed free throws? Give this man an F!

Jokes aside, I loved almost everything about this Curry game. Orlando sold out to stop him, and early on he was content to create traps, pull out the defense, and let his teammates get going. Then, when the Dubs needed it, Curry took over, fueling critical runs in the second and fourth quarters, and making the kind of shots that make him must-see TV anytime he laces up his sneakers.

He also led by example. When Steve Kerr spoke on Saturday about the team not playing enough for each other, he definitely wasn’t taking a shot at Curry. Yet Steph was an endless ball of energy in this game, hitting the deck for loose balls, jumping out of bounds to keep plays alive, and crashing passing lanes like his name was Charvarius.

It set an example. Everyone else followed.

Grade: A
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points, assists, and plus/minus.

Klay Thompson

25 minutes, 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 6-for-11 shooting, 3-for-8 threes, 68.2% TS, +4

It wasn’t a performance that you’ll remember in a year, or even in a month. But after Thompson had struggled horrifically the last three games, watching him have an efficient contest was a sight for sore eyes. And uhh ... how many times have we seen Klay make this pass???

I was also really impressed with his defense in this game. And he dunked. Which, predictably, he loved.

Grade: B+

Dario Šarić

14 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 1-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 33.3% TS, -8

It was clear that Kerr did not like Šarić much in this matchup, and it’s not hard to see why given the size and athleticism of Orlando’s bigs. The Homie didn’t play until the second quarter, and his minutes were sparse all night long.

Kerr had the right idea, as Šarić really struggled in the minutes he did get.

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

Kevon Looney

17 minutes, 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 3-for-4 free throws, 66.5% TS, +10

Not a dynamic Looney game, but a pretty darn solid Looney game, minus the fouls (easier to forgive when he knows he’s not going to be playing heavy minutes). His role is definitely smaller now, due to the way the Warriors are playing and the holes in the team’s execution. But he still does some things very, very well.

Grade: B-

Andrew Wiggins

21 minutes, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 4-for-7 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 1-for-3 free throws, 60.1% TS, -3

Wiggins had a huge first quarter, entering halfway through and scoring seven points to help the Dubs find their traction.

He disappeared for the rest of the game, only making one more shot and being nonexistent on the glass and not much of a difference-maker on defense. But that first-quarter performance was critical.

Grade: C+

Gary Payton II

11 minutes, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1-for-5 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 20.0% TS, +10

The story with Payton is not about how he played. It’s about how he left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring strain, which I’m guessing will sideline him for a while. It’s a huge blow to the team and to GPII, who was playing in just his second game since returning from a month-long absence.

Grade: Heal up soon buddy

Brandin Podziemski

28 minutes, 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 1-for-4 free throws, 57.1% TS, +4

If this were high school, Podziemski and Wiggins would still be at Chase Center putting up the 1,000 extra free throws that their coach demanded; thankfully they get to go home and sleep, instead.

Podz may have been removed from the starting lineup, but he’s still playing big minutes and impacting the game with his talent, energy, creativity, and selflessness. I think it’s safe to say that any questions as to whether his run was a flash in the pan or him being the real deal have been answered. He’s a critical part of the team right now.

Now go work on those free throws.

Grade: B+

Tuesday’s DNP-CDs: Cory Joseph, Moses Moody, Lester Quiñones, Jerome Robinson

Tuesday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Draymond Green, Gui Santos

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