Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson graded in Warriors win vs. Bulls

The Golden State Warriors got a much-needed win on Friday night, kicking off their four-game road trip with a 140-131 victory over the Chicago Bulls. A number in the W column was most important, but it was pretty darn crucial that the team also looked good. Sure, a nine-point win against a team with a losing record doesn’t scream “we’re back!” but the Dubs withstood unbelievably-hot shooting nights from Coby White, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine and, despite missing four of their rotation pieces, still came away with a win.

I’ll take that any day.

Now let’s grade the people who got the job done. 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

Dario Šarić

28 minutes, 12 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 4-for-6 shooting, 2-for-3 threes, 2-for-4 free throws, 77.3% TS, +6

Šarić got a surprising start at power forward, and quickly made the most of it. The Bulls were too small to deal with Šarić at the four, as he did work inside both scoring and rebounding, and would then step out to rain in threes. He had an excellent first quarter, and kept it up all game. Even without his running mate Chris Paul, Super Dario just kept the offense flowing.

Grade: A
Post-game bonus: Tied for the team lead in rebounds.

Kevon Looney

27 minutes, 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 fouls, 4-for-4 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, 92.2% TS, -7

Looney outplayed his counterpart, Nikola Vučević, by a fairly wide margin. He played good defense against Vooch, albeit not the best defense against Chicago’s slashing guards and wings, and his rebounding was so much better than the box score suggests.

Grade: B+

Andrew Wiggins

31 minutes, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 fouls, 8-for-13 shooting, 1-for-5 threes, 65.4% TS, +4

After three consecutive awful games, during which he scored a total of just 11 points, Wiggins was shockingly moved back into the starting lineup. I did not understand the move at all, but that’s why I’m not a coach, I guess, because it worked quite well.

Wiggins was sensational all game long. He was energetic and aggressive. He attacked the glass on offense and defense as though he’d been reading my articles about him. He kept the ball moving, and tallied a shocking eight assists against no turnovers … after having just 43 assists against 50 turnovers all year long.

I’ve questioned whether the infamously unplayable Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga pairing actually doesn’t work, or if it’s just that Wiggins has been really bad. Friday suggested the latter, as the team turned to the pairing twice — including to close the game — and it worked fine each time.

When Wiggins plays like this the Warriors are, quite frankly, a dramatically different team.

Grade: A+

Steph Curry

35 minutes, 27 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 8-for-24 shooting, 6-for-15 threes, 5-for-5 free throws, 51.5% TS, +5

For a while, it looked like the Warriors might win this game in spite of Curry, rather than because of him. He didn’t score in the first quarter, and really didn’t have much of an impact — excepting his tremendous gravity — until midway through the third quarter.

But he took over the fourth quarter with equal doses of talent and theatrics, seemingly raining in a sensational shot every time an exceedingly-game Chicago team got close.

When everyone else steps up, the Warriors don’t need Curry to do as much. And when Curry doesn’t need to do as much, he’s more rested and ready for the moments when they do need him.

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

Klay Thompson

34 minutes, 30 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 9-for-19 shooting, 7-for-15 threes, 5-for-6 free throws, 69.3% TS, +10

It turns out that when Thompson and Wiggins play like their All-Star selves, the Warriors are a much, much better team. Who could have known?

It was a quiet first half for Klay, but an explosive second one. He set the tone for a massive 48-20 third quarter when he nailed threes on the first two possessions of the frame, cutting a 13-point deficit into a seven-point one, and forcing Chicago to call timeout just 97 seconds into the half. He finished the frame with 17 points, and he was the biggest reason for one of the best quarters of the season.

I was so impressed with his playmaking in this game. His six assists were gorgeous, but don’t even tell the whole story of how well he set up his teammates all night long.

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

Jonathan Kuminga

24 minutes, 24 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 fouls, 9-for-12 shooting, 4-for-4 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, 90.1% TS, +6

Gotta love both the performance and the attitude from JK in this one. He’s been playing really well lately, and then got removed from the starting lineup in favor of someone who had been struggling horrifically. Yet Kuminga entered the game playing with the energy of a case of Red Bull, and he did so selflessly. He fueled the team with his instant offense, but also moved the ball, busted his butt, and got out in transition.

And, as mentioned, the lineups where he and Wiggins were both on the court worked well, which was great to see.

Kuminga deserved more than 24 minutes, but you can understand why Steve Kerr was hesitant to have too much overlap between Kuminga and Wiggins. But hot dang this dude is good.

Grade: A+

Trayce Jackson-Davis

17 minutes, 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 4-for-5 shooting, 5-for-7 free throws, 80.4% TS, +13

Amid rumors that the Warriors might pursue a center who can score at the trade deadline, their second-round pick reminded them that perhaps they already have that. TJD has a lot of skills, but one of his best seems to be an understanding of the moment. It’s shocking how many of his rim-rocking rolls come when the team either desperately needs a basket, or is getting close to landing a knockout blow.

Grade: A+
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus, tied for the team lead in rebounds.

Cory Joseph

13 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 foul, 1-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 33.3% TS, +4

With Paul sidelined, the team is likely to give CoJo a chunk of minutes here or there. It’s important to remember that this is his role: to provide emergency minutes when the team is low on options.

He fills that role well.

Grade: B

Jerome Robinson

4 minutes, 1 point, 1-for-2 free throws, 56.8% TS, -8

For the first time this year, Robinson — who is on a two-way contract — got some non-garbage time minutes. That was great to see, even if he didn’t really do much with them.

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

Brandin Podziemski

27 minutes, 5 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 fouls, 2-for-8 shooting, 0-for-4 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, 29.6% TS, +12

For someone who was labeled by many as just a shooter when he was drafted, I’m shocked at how seamlessly Podziemski impacts the game without scoring. The team just seems to operate so beautifully when he’s on the court, and that’s not something you can usually say about rookies.

It wasn’t a notable game for him, but he makes the team better even on those nights.

Grade: B

Friday’s DNP-CDs: Lester Quiñones

Friday’s inactives: Usman Garuba, Draymond Green, Moses Moody, Chris Paul, Gary Payton II, Gui Santos

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