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Player grades: Warriors vs. Hawks

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 134-112 win over Atlanta.

Jonathan Kuminga driving by a Hawks defender. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors played their first game in nine days on Wednesday and absolutely dismantled the Atlanta Hawks, using a dominant second half to run away with a 134-112 victory.

But the game stood in the shadow of something much bigger and much more important: Dejan Milojević. The Warriors honored their assistant coach — who died last week at the age of 46 — and they did so beautifully. In addition to placing “DM” initials inside a heart on their jerseys and the court, the Warriors played a video tribute to “Deki,” had the Serbian national anthem performed, wore pregame jerseys with “Milojević” on the back, and brought flowers to the coach’s wife and children.

The memory of Milojević hung over the game, as it will all season. These games are now for Deki.

Yet even when games take a backseat, wins sure feel a lot better than losses, and you could see how much the W meant to the Dubs. So let’s grade the players who got it done on Wednesday night. As always, grades are weighted based on my expectations of 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 Wednesday’s games, league-average TS was 58.1%.

Dario Šarić

16 minutes, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4-for-6 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 83.3% TS, +2

Šarić got the start on Wednesday, and I’m not sure if that was because of the matchup or because of how close he was with Milojević. It certainly worked though. Not only did Dario play well, but he had a very timely sequence. After a three by Steph Curry on the opening possession, Atlanta rattled off a 10-0 run. With the game in danger of slipping away just minutes in, Šarić went on a 5-0 run to stop the Hawks momentum.

Just a high quality game in a shortish burst of minutes.

Grade: A

Kevon Looney

10 minutes, 2 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 50.0% TS, -3

Looney’s minutes were low, and that’s probably the new normal for him, especially now that Draymond Green is back. Still and all, seven rebounds in 10 minutes is pretty absurd!

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

Andrew Wiggins

29 minutes, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 4 fouls, 4-for-11 shooting, 0-for-4 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 47.0% TS, +11

I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say this was a good Wiggins game, but it certainly was an encouraging one. He came out of the gates bursting at the seams with energy, aggression, and athleticism ... three traits that have been sorely missing from his game this year.

Wiggins flew around the court chasing rebounds and keeping balls alive. He played quality defense. He looked playable next to Jonathan Kuminga (though I think even I would have looked playable next to Kuminga).

I’m not convinced Wiggins is still on the Warriors after the trade deadline. But if he is, these are the types of games that at least give you a little optimism that he can return to form.

Grade: B-

Steph Curry

31 minutes, 25 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 7-for-16 shooting, 5-for-8 threes, 6-for-6 free throws, 67.1% TS, +9

This game was a reminder as to what Curry looks like when he doesn’t have to do it all. His teammates shot 11-for-25 on threes, moved well without the ball, and had an explosion from Kuminga, all while the defense locked in for the second half.

Curry didn’t have to do everything, and as a result he had a glorious day passing the ball, picked his spots, and was hyper-efficient.

Grade: A-
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in points, led the team in assists.

Klay Thompson

30 minutes, 24 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 8-for-18 shooting, 5-for-10 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 62.1% TS, +11

Klay may never return to All-Star status, but he’s quietly returned to “efficient high-end scorer” status. And that is huge for the Dubs. He’s playing beautifully within the system, and as a result he’s an automatic 20 every night out.

Grade: A-

Draymond Green

23 minutes, 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 5-for-6 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 100.0% TS, +19

I’m not sure if what I’m about to say is controversial or obvious. If Klay and Dray keep playing the way they played tonight, the Warriors can not only reverse their season in a hurry, but make some serious noise in the playoffs.

That’s putting the cart a little bit ahead of the horse, admittedly, but what an encouraging performance from Draymond, who came off the bench in just his second game since returning from his lengthy suspension.

He’ll have to be moved back to the starting lineup soon ... perhaps as soon as Thursday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. He’s simply too important to this team on both ends of the court ... especially when he’s shooting like this.

Best of all is how good the Dubs looked when Green was at the five, which might be a necessity with how much they need to be playing Kuminga right now.

Grade: A
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in plus/minus.

Jonathan Kuminga

29 minutes, 25 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 11-for-11 shooting, 3-for-5 threes, 94.7% TS, +18

Holy crap. That’s pretty much the only reaction I have to JK’s game. It even seemed to be Steve Kerr’s reaction.

Kuminga made his presence felt immediately, by asserting his offense and athleticism on the game as soon as he entered in the first quarter. And he had an amazing sequence towards the end of the third quarter that highlighted how much his attitude and approach have grown: after a blatant missed call on one end of the court, Kuminga, after getting in a few words towards the ref, hustled down the court, forced a turnover, and hustled back down the court as the team got an easy bucket. It represented just how much he’s inflicting his will on other teams right now.

He tied Chris Mullin for the most field goals made without a miss in franchise history. It wasn’t just getting hot — look at how much he works to get high-percentage looks.

He relentlessly attacked the glass. He continues to look like a player who has graduated from both Poor Defender University and Capable Defender College and his now getting his PhD at the School for High-End Defenders.

Here’s the best way to describe how well Kuminga is playing: earlier in the season, I wondered if the Warriors would be willing to sacrifice his future potential and trade him for a short-term upgrade. Now that thought is preposterous, because Kuminga is the short-term upgrade. If the team traded him (and I believe they have no intention of doing such), they wouldn’t just be giving up on what he might one day be; they’d be getting rid of someone who just might be their second-best player right now.

Grade: A+
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in points, led the team in rebounds.

Trayce Jackson-Davis

15 minutes, 4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 2 fouls, 2-for-4 shooting, 0-for-4 free throws, 34.7% TS, +6

Minutes will likely be sporadic for TJD now that Green has returned and, again, looks great at the five. But the team’s second-round pick still provides all sorts of value, especially in the right matchup. And he continues to look more than ready when his name is called.

Grade: B

Gui Santos

3 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 shooting, 0.0% TS, +3

Always fun to see Santos and his flowing locks get out on the court. Also fun when the Warriors have the good kind of garbage time.

Grade: Incomplete

Cory Joseph

21 minutes, 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 foul, 3-for-3 shooting, 2-for-2 threes, 133.3% TS, +12

Probably the best game that CoJo has played since joining the Warriors. This game was a reminder as to why the Dubs signed him: so that he could provide some steady minutes when Curry or Chris Paul is unable to play.

He kept the offense moving, made some big shots, and even had a few key defensive plays. Fantastic.

Grade: A

Jerome Robinson

3 minutes, 0 points, 1 assist, 0-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, +2

I hope at some point Robinson gets a bigger opportunity with some NBA team. He’s certainly got some skills.

Grade: Incomplete

Lester Quiñones

3 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 50.0% TS, +2

Just some garbage time for Q, but he certainly found the time to throw some stats in the box score!

Grade: Incomplete

Brandin Podziemski

27 minutes, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 5-for-9 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 55.6% TS, +19

Stop me if you’ve heard me say this a million times this before, but it’s a little staggering how much the team just seems to play better when Podziemski is on the court. Even when his numbers don’t jump off the page, he just seems to make everything click for Golden State with his energy, creativity, and decision-making.

Podz had a pair of pretty poor turnovers in the early going, and after that he buckled down and played a mistake-free game. What a draft.

Grade: B+
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in plus/minus.

Wednesday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Moses Moody, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II

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