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Player grades: Warriors vs. Grizzlies

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance from the team’s 121-101 win over Memphis.

Jonathan Kuminga dunking the ball with one hand while surrounded by Grizzlies players. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors took a little while, but eventually put a beatdown on a severely-depleted Memphis Grizzlies squad Friday night, kicking off their five-game road trip with a 121-101 win.

It’s the second-straight win for the Dubs, and if that seems like a rare thing these days, well ... it is!

Here’s to many more. Or maybe no more, and just one 39-game winning streak to close out the season. They can even make it 38 and lose the last one, I’ll allow it.

Anyway, it’s time to hand out some Friday night grades. 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 Friday’s games, league-average TS was 58.2%.

Draymond Green

28 minutes, 9 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls, 4-for-7 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 64.3% TS, +10

Draymond went through a few different phases in this game. In the opening minutes he scored quite a bit, and seemingly gobbled up every single rebound available. Then, as the game wore on, he transitioned into a playmaker, doing his best Brock Purdy impression as he threaded defenders with beautiful passes and manipulated the defense.

He had a handful of turnovers along the way (hey, even Purdy had a few of those games this year), but this was certainly a reminder as to how dynamic of a player Green still is ... and how good the Warriors can be with him starting at center. Despite the turnovers, he gets a better-than-average grade for leading the charge as the Warriors easily outrebounded a bigger team. They’ll need to do that if they want to start with someone so small at the five.

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

Jonathan Kuminga

37 minutes, 29 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 11-for-15 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 6-for-7 free throws, 80.2% TS, +15

If you’re a frequent reader of these articles, you’ll know that lately I’ve talked a lot about how Kuminga’s season has had two narratives. In act one, the question was whether the struggling Dubs would be willing to part with his potential so they could get better in the short term, and reload for another title run. In act two, we discovered that Kuminga had played himself out of being trade bait, because the Warriors path towards building the best roster in the short term were dependent on him being part of the team.

We’ve now arrived at act three. It’s time to put Kuminga on the trading block again. I love the guy, but the Warriors have the perfect opportunity to pair Steph Curry with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić, or Joel Embiid. Those teams would have to throw in some first-round picks to make up for the offsided nature of them getting Jonathan Freaking Kuminga, but we can make it work.

I kid, of course (if you took that last paragraph seriously then it might be time to cut yourself off of the free-flowing Friday libations). Kuminga isn’t yet ready to headline a package for an MVP, but ... anything seems possible right now.

This performance was varsity vs. JV personified. Memphis was, admittedly, without the bulk of its rotation players, but no one wearing baby blue looked like they had the strength, quickness, or leaping ability to do anything except bat their eyes and ask JK to be gentle when dunking all over them.

Kuminga got seemingly everything he wanted. He scored 20 or more points for the eighth consecutive game, something only Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Jordan Poole have done over the last decade of Dubs basketball. More impressive than that is the efficiency with which he has done so: he’s averaging 25.6 points over that span, while shooting 56.5% on threes, 78.9% on free throws, and ... wait for it ... keep waiting for it ... 64.8% on twos, on more than 13 attempts per game.

That number will probably come down a little, but it’s not like Kuminga is shooting at an unsustainable rate. He’s making an outrageous percentage of his shots because he’s getting a huge number of looks not only at the rim, but nearly uncontested. This is not a case of a shooter hitting a hot streak; it’s a case of someone figuring out how to break down defenses for dependably easy buckets.

As he’s figured it out on his own, his teammates have figured it out with him. Curry, Green, and Brandin Podziemski have acclimated to Kuminga’s athleticism, vision, and cutting, and now lobs are becoming commonplace in Dub Nation.

Perhaps I should find something negative about this performance and knock Kuminga down a grade, but I’m just too damn excited about this guy right now.

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

Andrew Wiggins

30 minutes, 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 3-for-8 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 50.7% TS, +9

I didn’t really notice Wiggins at all in this game, for better and for worse. For worse because, at his best (and lately), it’s very easy to notice the positive imprint Wiggins leaves on the game. For better because, for the first half of the season, it was painfully easy to notice Wiggins hurting the team’s chances of winning.

He just kind of existed in this game. He did a good job of not hurting the team, with neither a turnover nor a foul, and he didn’t take many ill-advised shots. But he also didn’t provide much of anything offensively, or anything at all on the glass.

Grade: C

Steph Curry

32 minutes, 20 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 6-for-16 shooting, 4-for-9 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 56.3% TS, +12

This was the epitome of an elder statesmen game for Steph. He hoped — and eventually knew — that the Warriors were good enough to beat this shell of a Memphis team even without the chef cooking like crazy. And so he settled into a complementary role, setting up teammates and letting his gravity give good looks to the dudes around him.

On many nights, these numbers would warrant a not-very-good grade for the 10-time All-Star, because he’s set the ball so damn high. But you really felt like Curry had a lot more to give if the Warriors needed it ... and he made sure the other players cooked enough that they didn’t need it.

Grade: B

Klay Thompson

27 minutes, 14 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 6-for-15 shooting, 2-for-9 threes, 46.7% TS, +5

I thought Klay played better than the box score would indicate ... which is good, because the box score is pretty rough. Steve Kerr put Thompson in a lot of lineups full of bench players, and Klay did a good job keeping the ball moving, redirecting players to the right spots, and spacing the floor.

Still and all, he’s there to make shots, and he didn’t do much of that, and he didn’t really do anything else to make up for it.

Grade: C-

Kevon Looney

11 minutes, 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 4-for-4 shooting, 1-for-3 free throws, 84.6% TS, +8

I don’t remember Loon having three turnovers, but everything else about his game was solid. This is his role now, and probably going forward, assuming he stays on the Dubs through the trade deadline: playing sporadic minutes depending on the matchup and situation, adding toughness and defense, and keeping plays alive.

Grade: B

Trayce Jackson-Davis

9 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2-for-2 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, 86.8% TS, +2

TJD and Looney occupy the same spot right now, but in very different ways. Neither is likely to play big minutes with any regularity, and will kind of be at the whim of the matchups and how the game unfolds. The rookie is staying ready though, that’s for damn sure.

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

Gui Santos

11 minutes, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 fouls, 2-for-2 shooting, 100.0% TS, +5

I’ll be honest, I did not have Gui Santos first-quarter minutes on my Warriors bingo card. I’m not sure whether Kerr was holding an open audition for minutes with three rotation guards injured, using a game he assumed the Dubs could win as a chance to get stars rest and back-of-the-bench players minutes, or trying to put on a showcase ahead of the trade deadline, but Santos and Lester Quiñones both showed up in the first quarter of a close game.

Santos looked good! He looked very smooth, and I’m not just talking about his Dani Rojas-esque locks. He moves around the court very well, and seems to be in nonstop motion, which fits well with the system.

Grade: A

Jerome Robinson

2 minutes, 0 points, +5

Just a little garbage time for Robinson. It’s no surprise that he’s on the road trip given the injuries that have been mounting.

Grade: Incomplete

Lester Quiñones

19 minutes, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, 3-for-6 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 72.7% TS, +11

As mentioned, Quiñones got in on the action in the first quarter ... and then a bit throughout the game, as he ended up playing a pretty big role. He looked ... really good.

Like Santos, Q moves very fluidly, and seems to always be in motion, while also keeping the ball constantly in motion. He has zero trepidation; while not a reckless slinger, he has the full confidence to take open shots when he’s on the court. He doesn’t play like someone who thinks he’s just a fifth body on the court to get the ball to the Splash Bros.

It’s no secret that the Warriors really like Quiñones, though to this point it hasn’t really resulted in an opportunity for him — this game brought him over the 100-minute mark for his career. I suspect they’ll keep trying to find minutes for him, as they probably already have an eye towards signing him to a roster spot next year.

Grade: A+

Brandin Podziemski

34 minutes, 12 points, 7 rebounds, 14 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 fouls, 5-for-8 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 67.6% TS, +18

Remember when I said that Podziemski was starting to figure out how to play with Kuminga? The two connected on a pair of late-game lobs that helped seal the contest, as the rookie supplanted Thompson in the closing lineup.

It was just the seventh time in NBA history that a rookie has had 14 assists without a turnover (one of the others was Mark Jackson, naturally).

For a player who entered the league with a lot of questions, he’s been nothing but answers since donning a Dubs jersey. How many teams are kicking themselves for not picking Podz? Even those of us who loved the selection are shocked that he’s this good this quickly. But he has the creativity, confidence, and vast skillset to make magic happen, while pairing it with an uncanny ability to avoid mistakes. He now has 137 assists to 49 turnovers on the year ... as a rookie combo guard! And a higher rebound rate than any non-center Warrior.

This dude, y’all.

Grade: A+
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists, highest plus/minus on the team.

Friday’s DNP-CDs: Cory Joseph

Friday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Moses Moody, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II, Dario Šarić

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