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Player grades: Warriors vs. Kings

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance in the team’s 134-133 loss to Sacramento.

Steph Curry driving between Kings defenders. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Had the Golden State Warriors not suffered so many brutal and infuriating loss this season, Thursday night’s 134-133 defeat at the hands of the Sacramento Kings would have been an easier pill to swallow. The Dubs, despite being a much less healthy team and playing on the back end of a back-to-back, put on a glorious offensive performance, were in it all game, and were 50% of a beautiful and entertaining game. They didn’t even blow a big lead!

But the close losses are piling up, with compounding interest in pain. The Dubs had the ball for the final possession, down just one point ... and didn’t even get a shot off.

It was probably an encouraging loss, in that the Warriors have now looked like a competent and capable team two nights in a row. But we’re running out of time for encouraging losses; it’s time to stack wins.

Anyway, let’s grade the players who almost got it done. As always, grades are based on my expectations, with a “B” grade representing the average performance for each 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 58.2%.

Dario Šarić

20 minutes, 14 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 5-for-6 shooting, 4-for-4 threes, 116.7% TS, -15

Šarić had an absolutely phenomenal game on offense, though he got worked a bit on defense. I’m willing to overlook that a little bit since he’s really just there for the offense. His ball movement was spectacular and ... I mean, do I really need to explain how nice it is to have 14 points on six shots??

Still and all, it was abundantly clear in this game that the reserve frontcourt needs to be the starting frontcourt. But I can’t get myself to give him a bad grade with those stats.

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

Kevon Looney

16 minutes, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 2-for-2 shooting, 100.0% TS, -15

Not a very good Looney game. Not really much else to say.

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

Andrew Wiggins

31 minutes, 17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 6-for-8 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 87.1% TS, -4

Well, that was a sight for sore eyes! Wiggins has been one of the least efficient players in the NBA this season: he’s 193rd out of 196 qualified players in true-shooting percentage, and of the 191 players in the league who are averaging at least three attempts from deep per game (minimum: 10 games), Wiggins is 189th in three-point percentage.

So this performance was a joy to watch. Wiggins was super aggressive early, which helped set the tone for the offense, and made Sacramento have to work hard on defense.

His defense is still nowhere near what it used to be, and that shows up against a team with De’Aaron Fox. But I was just happy to see such a strong offensive showing.

Grade: A-

Steph Curry

36 minutes, 33 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 13-for-26 shooting, 6-for-14 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 62.4% TS, -8

Weird Curry game. He started out playing like he was angry about not being named an All-Star starter. At one point he had scored 12 consecutive points for the Dubs, and he finished the opening frame with 18 points ... more than all but one of his teammates would tally all game.

But as the game went on he slowed down. He was held scoreless in the second quarter, and his frustration mounted throughout the game as he didn’t get any fouls called (which, to be fair, he was right to be frustrated about).

Still and all, it was a quality game by the chef, up until the final possession. After a pair of missed free throws by Kevin Huerter gave the Dubs a chance to win the game, Curry brought the ball up the court, tried to dribble around a Draymond Green screen, wove into traffic, tried to back up, and eventually lost the ball.

Even though the Warriors only needed two points to win, Curry never got within 25 feet of the hoop. And even though they had a timeout to use if pushing against an unset defense didn’t work, Curry never stopped to reset (Steve Kerr was screaming for a timeout, but you’re never going to get a timeout call when a player is attacking a defense).

I’m not sure if it’s just happenstance or if something’s going on, but Curry has had so many foibles in the waning minute of close games this year.

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

Klay Thompson

31 minutes, 16 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 5-for-14 shooting, 2-for-7 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 50.8% TS, -1

Not a super good Klay game. Those happen. It’s just nice to see that he’s playing within the flow of the offense again and not forcing shots. Unfortunately, those shots weren’t falling regularly, and he got worked on the other end of the court.

Grade: C

Draymond Green

31 minutes, 5 points, 4 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 0-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 5-for-8 free throws, 38.3% TS, +14

My biggest takeaway from this game had nothing to do with basketball: Draymond Green looks so much healthier since returning from his suspension. It’s abundantly clear the time off and the counseling helped — which is also a reflection that Green put in the time and the work.

He looks happier, more at peace, and lighter (in the mental and emotional sense). I’m not just saying that because of his actions — seeming to apologize to Malik Monk after a hard foul; not caring when Monk returned the favor; not complaining to the refs; not trash-talking his foe Domantas Sabonis even when the game turned physical. He’s just carrying himself differently. He looks different.

I’m really, really, really happy for him.

Also he played his ass off and should be back in the starting lineup for the next game, especially since the Warriors are playing the frontcourt of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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

Jonathan Kuminga

30 minutes, 31 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, 12-for-19 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 5-for-6 free throws, 71.6% TS, +16

After Wednesday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, in which Kuminga tied Chris Mullin’s franchise record for the most field goals in a game without a miss, I made a statement about Kuminga. I want to repeat that statement today.

Earlier in the season, the question with Kuminga was whether the Warriors would be willing to make a long-term sacrifice by trading Kuminga for something that would make them better in the short term, and help maximize their championship window this year and hopefully next year. That question no longer applies, because playing Kuminga is perhaps the biggest thing the team can do to make matters better in the short term. Unless Giannis Antetokounmpo decides that he wants to follow Adrian Griffin out of town, I don’t think there’s a trade the Warriors could make that involves Kuminga and makes them better this year.

It wasn’t a flawless game. Kuminga forced the issue a few too many times on offense and, like pretty much everyone on the team, had a few defensive possessions in which he simply forgot to guard someone (namely Harrison Barnes). And while he was active on the glass, it was sometimes more chaotic than productive.

But still. Kuminga has been flexing his muscles lately, in a big way — literally and figuratively. He has the ability to get whatever he wants with some regularity, and used it to keep the Dubs afloat with a 12-point second quarter. His athleticism completely messed up Sacramento’s game plan.

Over the last two games, Kuminga has scored 56 points in 59 minutes, shot 23-for-30 from the field, and had a plus/minus of +34 ... in the 37 minutes when he’s been on the bench, the team has been outscored by 13 points.

Like I said: it’s time for a new starting frontcourt.

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

Cory Joseph

17 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 foul, 2-for-3 shooting, 2-for-2 threes, 100.0% TS, +3

A second consecutive strong game from CoJo, who is looking the part of a quality third string point guard. The Warriors won’t need him much when healthy, but he’s a damn good emergency option when Chris Paul, Gary Payton II, and Moses Moody are all injured.

Grade: A

Brandin Podziemski

27 minutes, 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 3-for-5 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 70.0% TS, +5

Podz really stands out when playing a team like the Kings, where it’s so easy to see just how much his youth and energy bring the Warriors. Sacramento is a team that exudes youthful bounce, and Podziemski helps match that.

Not the most emphatic game for him, but some amazing creativity around the rim yet again.

Grade: B+

Thursday’s DNP-CDs: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Lester Quiñones, Gui Santos

Thursday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Moses Moody, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II, Jerome Robinson

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