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Player grades: Warriors vs. Thunder

For the second game in a row, the Golden State Warriors faced an incredibly game up-and-coming team missing their franchise star, and emerged with a game-winning shot by a Splash Brother with 0.2 seconds remaining.

What in the world are the odds of that?

This time the opponent was the Oklahoma City Thunder, who seemingly couldn’t miss a shot, before watching the Warriors steal a 141-139 victory. It was just the ninth time in franchise history — and third time in the last 30 years — that Golden State had won a game in which their opponent shot 60% or better from the field.

Don’t make a habit of it, boys, but then again: a win is a win is a win.

Time to grade the players, though. 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. League-average TS was 58.1% last year.

Draymond Green

29 minutes, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 5 fouls, 5-for-11 shooting, 2-for-4 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 60.9% TS, -1

Green has looked rejuvenated on offense in this young season. Despite missing training camp and the first two games of the season, Dray has been playing some of the best offense that he’s offered in recent years: his usual playmaking is there, but in his four games he’s averaging 9.5 points (despite not yet playing full minutes), while shooting 10-for-20 on twos, 4-for-10 on threes, and 6-for-8 on free throws.

Like every Warrior, Green got cooked a fair amount of times on the other side of the court, but I’m inclined to chalk that up more to OKC making some crazy shots than anything else.

Grade: B+

Kevon Looney

11 minutes, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 1-for-2 shooting, 2-for-2 free throws, 69.4% TS, -1

Looney only played 11 minutes as he struggled with fouls, but truthfully, it would have been a low minutes night even if he didn’t have any foul issues. He struggled with both the athleticism of Jalen Williams, and the size/wingspan/athleticism combo of Chet Holmgren, and it was clear from early on that small lineups and Dario Šarić were both better options.

Grade: C

Andrew Wiggins

27 minutes, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 foul, 6-for-11 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 5-for-8 free throws, 58.5% TS, -14

Easily Wiggins’ best game this season. He set a tone for the Warriors early with aggression on offense, and as they were attempting to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit, he set a tone with a few huge plays on the offensive glass, where four of his five rebounds came. It was his highest scoring total of the season, and tied for his season high in rebounds.

It wasn’t all pretty, which is why he was once again absent from the closing lineup, and it certainly wasn’t his best defensive day; then again, it wasn’t for anyone!

All in all, a very encouraging performance from Wiggs, who looked much more like himself.

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

Steph Curry

31 minutes, 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 1 foul, 9-for-15 shooting, 5-for-10 threes, 7-for-7 free throws, 83.0% TS, +5

Curry’s outrageous scoring to start the season continues. He added to his league-leading points total (185), though this game technically lowered his average to “just” 30.8 points per game.

He’s shooting 72.2% on two-pointers this year, and 46.5% on threes. Remember when his trainer said he’s never had a better offseason shooting than this summer? Yeah, so, about that…

Curry played the role of lifesaver in this one. Whenever the Thunder tried to run away with things, Curry came in and made a big shot. Or an unreal pass.

He had a huge layup down the stretch, with some strong defensive possessions, and he was a menace on the glass, tying the 7’1 Holmgren for the game high.

And of course, he had the most important shot of the night, somehow getting to the rim and masterfully contorting himself for what, after a few minutes of replay review, was ultimately deemed the game-winning shot.

You know the rule: there’s only one grade to get when you hit a game-winner.

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

Klay Thompson

33 minutes, 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, 6-for-10 shooting, 4-for-6 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 82.7% TS, 0 plus/minus

After opening night, I heard a lot of grumbling from fans who were worried that Klay was firing with a quick trigger and taking ill-advised shots, not unlike last year … which ultimately led to a mini intervention from Green.

Curry and Chris Paul were quick to defend Thompson after that loss — still the only loss of the season — and said they liked the shots Klay took. I agreed: I thought they were good shots that just didn’t go in.

Since then? He’s 14-for-25 on twos and 12-for-24 on threes. That will work.

He’s also been making huge plays down the stretch. Obviously his game-winner on Wednesday stands out, but Klay has also had superb late-game defense (he helped force a turnover in the final minute of this one), has made good decisions and passes, and has had ice in his veins (he made a game-tying and a go-ahead free throw with 38.1 seconds left).

And he leads the team in minutes per game! A wonderful season so far.

Grade: A-

Dario Šarić

20 minutes, 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 6-for-9 shooting, 4-for-7 threes, 4-for-4 free throws, 92.9% TS, +3

With all due respect to Warriors legend and NBA champion Nemanja Bjelica, it is emphatically time to retire the “Šarić is this year’s Bjelica” talk.

Šarić is similar to Bjelica, if Bjelica were way better at almost every part of basketball.

Super Dario showed how he can be an instant difference-maker off the bench, splashing in a trio of triples in the first quarter, and putting in a team-high 11 points in the quarter … points the Warriors desperately needed.

He showed off the scoring later in the game, too, but it was his rebounding, passing, and hustling that really impacted the game. His rapport with Paul is on full display, and the two crafty, careful, and ultra-talented veterans give the bench unit so much calmness.

It took his shot a few games to get going, but in the last two games, Šarić has 35 points in 40 minutes, while shooting 12-for-18 from the field and 7-for-12 from beyond the arc.

I have to give Liah the assist after her phenomenal article.

Grade: A+

Jonathan Kuminga

22 minutes, 19 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 9-for-15 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 59.8% TS, +3

This was kind of a tale of two Kumingas, for better and for worse.

The positive was that Kuminga gave us the largest glimpse yet of his potential as a unit-changing isolation scorer. We’ve seen better offensive games from him, but this was — in my eyes — the best we’ve ever see him fit the role of a go-to scorer. He wasn’t forcing the action, he wasn’t taking bad shots, but he was showing the ability to take the ball with 10 seconds left in the shot clock, go to work, cook his defender, and get a good look. The Warriors have had Wiggins and Jordan Poole in that role in prior years, and it was very exciting looking like Kuminga could fill it. Having a player on the bench unit who you can give the ball to, clear out, and trust that you’ll get a good shot is huge.

The negative was that Kuminga didn’t do much else. He’s been all over the place this season (in the good sense of the term, not the out-of-control sense), but this game didn’t feature as much from him in terms of defense or rebounding.

But it sure excited me!

Grade: B+

Chris Paul

28 minutes, 1 point, 2 rebounds, 13 assists, 2 steals, 1 foul, 0-for-6 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 7.3% TS, +6

Ready for some wild stats? Here they come!

The scoring and shooting have been putrid, but that’s quite literally the only stain on the resume in his first week-and-a-half as a Warrior. And with how he’s playing, Paul scoring wouldn’t turn a bad season into a good season; it would turn a good season into an All-Star campaign.

I get the feeling that I am not going to have nearly enough words this season to explain how critical he is to this team. I don’t think they come close to winning this game if he doesn’t slow down and control the second unit in both halves.

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

Gary Payton II

22 minutes, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 4-for-6 shooting, 1-for-3 threes, 75.0% TS, +9

One of the things I was most looking forward to this season was seeing Payton healthy. Things never worked in Portland, and he was returned to the Dubs with a clear ailment. Even after his month-long absence, it was apparent that he was not as healthy and athletic as we had grown accustomed to.

I was excited to see him return to his 2021-22 form. Instead, we’re getting something way better.

GPII has worked his way into a lot of late-game lineups this year thanks to his defensive excellence, his defensive versatility, his activity on the glass (where the rebound total never accurately reflects his impact), and his cutting.

This time around it resulted in a huge basket.

It used to feel like Payton should only play sparingly, even though he was excellent in his minutes. Now it feels like he needs to just have a large rotation role: and it seems he does.

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

Moses Moody

18 minutes, 8 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, 3-for-7 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 57.1% TS, +4

Two things. First, after having his worst game of the season on Wednesday, Moody was highly mediocre in this one. Second, part of the evolution of his game is that he’s still doing really good things when not at his best.

He’s going to get a not-good grade from me. But in past years, a not-good grade would mean that he actively hurt the team’s chances of winning. This year, it just means that he didn’t make a huge positive impact on their chances.

Grade: C

The court

I really love that the NBA is having teams use special courts for the in-season tournament games. If they’re going to commit to this tournament experiment, they should go all out and do things that make it clear that a game is an in-season tournament game. Make the experience different, make people take note, etc. etc.

It’s a great idea. I love it.

But what in the bubblegum Crash Bandicoot Lego childhood coloring book Vegas light display WWE photoshop VW Beetle is this???

Grade: F

Friday’s DNPs: Usman Garuba, Cory Joseph, Jerome Robinson

Friday’s inactives: Trayce Jackson-Davis, Brandin Podziemski, Lester Quiñones

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