NBA Finals 2012: Full Grades for Each Heat and Thunder Star in Historic Series
Three games into the 2012 NBA Finals, this series is shaping up to be a classic, as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat continue to exchange massive blows on the court.
The stars have been out in full force, even if some of them have performed better than others.
So, how have they done?
Read on to see the grades of every single player who has stepped onto the court during the Finals, sorted in alphabetic order.
The oft-joked-about center has stepped onto the court for a grand total of 2:06 during the first three games of the Finals. That's not an average per game; that's a total.
When Anthony was on the court for those 2:06 during Game 1, he didn't record a single thing worth mentioning in the box score, and the Miami Heat outscored the Oklahoma City Thunder by three points.
It's hard to penalize Anthony here, because he simply hasn't had any opportunities to prove himself.
The first-year member of the Miami Heat hasn't been scared by the spotlight that goes with his first NBA Finals appearance.
Shane Battier exploded for 17 points in Game 1, then followed it up with another 17-spot in Game 2. Game 3 went similarly, as Battier scored a timely nine points without a miss from the field.
Clearly failing to recognize the concept of ending streaks, Battier has hit on a scorching 11 of his 15 attempts from downtown. Plus, he's played solid defense and drawn Serge Ibaka out of shot-blocking territory all series.
Chris Bosh's presence on the court has definitely helped the Miami Heat. He's provided additional spacing and been invaluable on the glass.
The velociraptor lookalike struggled during Game 1, but his 15 points and 16 rebounds helped spark the Heat to a road victory in Game 2. Although he couldn't hit from the field at all in Game 3, making just three of his 12 attempts, Bosh did pull down 11 rebounds, including four of the offensive variety.
What happened to the Mario Chalmers that lived for the big moments? Who captured Super Mario and replaced him with Princess Peach?
The point guard played well in Game 1, scoring an efficient 12 points while dishing out six dimes. Then everything started to fall apart.
Combining Games 2 and 3 to save Chalmers the embarrassment of having the games rehashed separately, the former Kansas Jayhawk had five points on 2-of-15 shooting. He also racked up four assists and four turnovers.
Apparently, the Heat only win games when Chalmers plays poorly.
When the highlight of your series is easy to pick out because it's the only basket you've made, that may be a sign that you aren't contributing as much as you had hoped.
Norris Cole didn't play in Game 1, but the rookie got some action and made his first shot of Game 2 before failing epically on a reverse layup attempt.
Overall, the former Cleveland State Viking is 1-of-5 from the field and has yet to record even one assist while turning the ball over once.
Why haven't we started calling him Nick "Collision" Collison yet? Can we please make that catch on?
All Collison does is hustle, draw charges and grab rebounds when he's on the court. He was an underrated contributor to the Game 1 victory with his eight points and 10 boards in 21 minutes off the bench.
Collison made much less of an impact in the subsequent games, but his presence and determination was still felt when he was on the court.
The bench shooter for the Oklahoma City Thunder has played for a total of five minutes and missed everything he's attempted.
Daequan Cook failed to connect on either of his two free-throw attempts in Game 1 and then misfired on a three-pointer in Game 3.
He remains scoreless, rebound-less, assist-less, steal-less and block-less despite having played in two of the three games, albeit for very short periods of time.
Averaging 31 points per game to pace the finals, Kevin Durant has been magnificently efficient on the offensive end and his defense has caught a lot of people by surprise. The only problems had been his ineffectiveness facilitating and his seemingly constant foul trouble.
Durant scored a combined 33 points in the first two fourth quarters of his finals career, proving once and for all that he has ice water flowing through his veins.
The only thing keeping Durant from having a "+" at the end of his grade is the fact that he's the leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder and his team is trailing going into Game 4.
Derek Fisher's role on the Oklahoma City Thunder is to provide veteran leadership and the occasional timely three-pointer while giving Russell Westbrook some rest so he can prove athletically superior when he's on the court.
However, Fisher forgot that role during the fourth quarter of Game 3, when he had a layup swatted away by Udonis Haslem and then looked off his star teammates to fire up a transition three-pointer that couldn't find the back of the net.
Fisher's physical defense has plagued Mario Chalmers and some of the other Miami Heat guards, and he's been decent offensively, but the Game 3 performance is hurting his grade significantly given the small sample size.
The Beard itself gets an "A+" for the series through the first three games, but the host to the follicular parasite isn't going to be so lucky.
James Harden has made his share of timely shots, like the crazy buzzer-beater to end the first quarter of Game 1, but he's also missed way too many shots and his numbers have been rather empty. Perhaps if Scott Brooks would start him instead of letting him attempt to dig the Thunder's way out of their constant early deficits...
Harden is only 11-of-27 from the field for the series and just put together a 2-of-10 performance in Game 3. The worst part was him just forgetting how to play basketball in the fourth quarter and actually waving off Kevin Durant when he called for the ball with time winding down in the final period.
Now we go from the full, luscious beard of James Harden to the spotty facial hair of Udonis Haslem. I'd probably give Haslem's beard a "B," although Kendall Marshall disagrees with me.
Haslem has done exactly what's been asked of him during this series, even if his playing time has gradually diminished as Erik Spoelstra decides to play more and more small ball.
He's been a factor on the glass, played defense and made a few easy buckets while avoiding inserting himself into the offensive game plan.
Despite his defensive presence, Serge Ibaka has been one of the biggest culprits behind the Oklahoma City Thunder's failure to win either of the last two games.
Ibaka scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting in Game 1, but he's failed to hit down the jumpers and the defense has collapsed as a result in the next two contests. Ibaka has gone a combined 4-of-10 in Games 2 and 3 and his offense has struggled to the point that Scott Brooks didn't play him for a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter in the most recent game.
When Ibaka is hitting his pick-and-pop jumpers, there's a whole new dynamic to the OKC offense and Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant are able to penetrate with much greater ease. That hasn't happened.
What more can be said about LeBron James? He's established himself as the best player in the series and is easily putting to rest any misconceptions that he can't handle the pressure.
Whether it's his volume scoring while maintaining efficiency, his terrific defensive play, his superb passing or his vigor on the glass, James has done it all with remarkable ease.
There have been a few vintage Mike Miller moments, namely big rebounds on the offensive end, but the backup shooting guard has been, well, a backup.
Miller played 10 minutes in Game 1, hitting one of his two attempts and finding two open teammates for buckets. He only saw a combined seven minutes of action in the two most recent contests, but he's continued to do good, but not great things in that time.
This isn't the series for Kendrick Perkins to play big minutes, and Scott Brooks has failed to recognize that thus far.
Perkins has been almost completely ineffective on defense recently, especially in the Game 3 loss when he didn't do anything at all to shut off the paint.
While his offensive and rebound contributions have been nice, this defensive stopper has stopped playing elite defense in the post.
While Thabo Sefolosha hasn't been able to do much to slow LeBron James when assigned to him on defense, his offensive contributions have been even worse. I'm sure I'm overlooking someone obvious here, but Sefolosha has to be among the worst finishers in all of basketball.
The shooting guard has shot 6-of-18 from the field and his awful inbounds play to Dwyane Wade at the end of Game 3 pretty much represented his play on that end of the court.
This shooting guard is incredibly difficult to grade because he's been fantastic in some moments and downright horrendous in others. It feels as though Dwyane Wade is guaranteed to make at least one circus shot in the fourth quarter before canceling it out with an inopportune turnover.
Wade clearly isn't the Wade of old, even if he's played with a bit more aggression ever since getting picked apart following his performance in the Heat's Game 1 loss.
He played quite well in all areas during Game 2, but reverted to missing jumpers in Game 3. Fortunately for Miami, he's been able to make up for his lack of efficiency on offense with some great distribution and a solid effort on the boards.
Now we end with the point guard that so many people love to hate without realizing that the Oklahoma City Thunder are actually better when he's aggressive.
Russell Westbrook has struggled with his shot all series, but he's minimized the turnovers and done a good job of attacking the rim with enough force that the Miami Heat defense can't help but compress a little bit.
Sure, there are still moments that leave you scratching your head and wondering why the former UCLA shooting guard decided to do something, but then he'll follow it up with a play that will blow your mind in a positive way.
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