Final Regular-Season Report Card Grades for Every NBA Superstar

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterApril 17, 2013

Final Regular-Season Report Card Grades for Every NBA Superstar

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    I guess this is goodbye to the NBA superstar report card grades.

    For the regular season, anyway. We'll be back with rankings and such for the playoffs, when the best of the best tend to separate themselves from the rest, and then some.

    In the meantime, let's take a walk down Memory Lane as we tally up our final grades for the league's biggest and brightest stars from the 2012-13 regular season. For this edition, we decided to bring back most of the ghosts from report cards past, except for those (like Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love) who didn't come close to seeing the season through on account of injury.

    As such, this last list includes much more than the usual top 10 and the occasional dropout or two, with assessments extending well beyond the reach of the week that was.

    So how long is the list now? And who finished with which grades and where?

    You don't expect me to spoil it all for you right now, do you?

16. Kyrie Irving

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    Points: 22.4


    Assists: 5.9

    Steals: 1.5

    Blocks: 0.4

    Field Goal Percentage: .452

    Three-Point Percentage: .396

    Free-Throw Attempts: 4.9

    Turnovers: 3.2

    Minutes: 34.7

    Games: 58

    On an individual level, Kyrie Irving deserves a ton of credit for what he accomplished this season.

    He parlayed his 2011-12 Rookie of the Year award into a spot in the 2013 All-Star Game. He captivated crowds and made the Cleveland Cavaliers a worthwhile watch on NBA League Pass with his dynamic dribbling and spectacular scoring exploits. He established himself as one of the league's premier crunch-time killers before he could so much as buy himself a beer.

    And yet, Irving's second season still left plenty to be desired.

    The Cavs finished with a miserable record for the third year in a row since LeBron James' "Decision." Irving missed even more games to injury this year than he did last, when his reputation as a "Human China Doll" seemed premature. As great a scorer as Kyrie was and is, he still can't stop his own shadow to save his life.

    One can only hope, then, that Kyrie will come back stronger and healthier in 2013-14, and that the Cavs will upgrade his supporting cast (and their coaching staff) before the opening tip.

    Current Grade: B (84 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): N/A (NR)

15. Deron Williams

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    Points: 19.1 

    Rebounds: 3.0

    Assists: 7.8

    Steals: 1.0

    Blocks: 0.4

    Field Goal Percentage: .441

    Three-Point Percentage .378

    Free-Throw Attempts: 4.8

    Turnovers: 2.8

    Minutes: 36.6

    Games: 77

    Better late than never for Deron Williams to make his debut on this list, I suppose. After a slow start to the season—to which injuries, adjustment to a new roster and a not-so-sudden coaching change contributed significantly—he came out like a man on a mission.

    Since the All-Star Game (in which he didn't partake for the first time in four years), Williams has averaged better than 23 points and eight assists while knocking down 48.2 percent of his shots from the field and 42.2 percent from three.

    And just in time, too. The Brooklyn Nets will be appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, when they were still in New Jersey and before Jason Kidd was shipped off to Dallas. And they'll be the No. 4 seed in the East, no less. They'll need every bit of what D-Will brings to the table if they're to make some serious noise this postseason.

    Current Grade: B (85 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): N/A (NR)

14. Blake Griffin

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    Points: 18.1 points

    Rebounds: 8.3

    Assists: 3.8

    Steals: 1.2

    Blocks: 0.6

    Field Goal Percentage: .540

    Three-Point Percentage: .179

    Free-Throw Attempts: 5.4

    Turnovers: 2.3

    Minutes: 32.5

    Games: 79 games

    The results of Blake Griffin's third NBA season were mixed, at best.

    On the one hand, his shooting improved, to the point where he's no longer a total liability at the free-throw line, his low-post game is now surprisingly effective, if not always pleasing to the eye and he's still a high-flying force to be reckoned with, especially on the fast break.

    On the other hand, he still whines and complains too much, struggles to create his own shot, has a ways to go defensively and is hardly a go-to guy in crunch time.

    But as easy as it is to pick nits with Griffin's 2012-13 campaign, the fact remains that the Los Angeles Clippers just enjoyed the finest regular season in the franchise's sullen history, and Blake was a massive part of that effort. 

    Current Grade: B+ (87 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): N/A (NR)

13. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Points: 17.3

    Rebounds: 6.8

    Assists: 2.5

    Steals: 0.7

    Blocks: 0.7

    Field Goal Percentage: .471

    Three-Point Percentage: .422

    Free-Throw Attempts: 3.7

    Turnovers: 1.3

    Minutes: 31.4

    Games: 52

    Dirk Nowitzki giveth and Dirk Nowitzki taketh away.

    With him, the Dallas Mavericks cracked the playoff field 12 years in a row, won a title in 2011 and established themselves as something much more than the perennial pushovers they'd been prior to the giant German's arrival.

    Without him, the Mavs tumbled into the depths of the NBA draft lottery as they awaited their superstar's return from knee surgery.

    With him back, Dallas made a valiant push for the eighth seed in the West down the stretch, only to come up agonizingly short.

    What will the Mavs do without Dirk once he retires? Luckily for them, that question is a ways down the road, just waiting to be kicked when Nowitzki hits free agency again in 2014.

    Current Grade: A- (90 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): N/A (NR)

12. Dwight Howard

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    Points: 17.1 

    Rebounds: 12.4

    Assists: 1.4

    Steals: 1.1

    Blocks: 2.4

    Field Goal Percentage: .581

    Three-Point Percentage: .200

    Free-Throw Percentage: 9.5

    Turnovers: 2.9

    Minutes: 35.7

    Games: 75

    Say what you want about Dwight Howard as a childish, spoiled superstar who thinks the grass is greener everywhere but here and seems more interested in pleasing others and playing to the cameras than achieving true greatness as a competitor.

    Even with all that, there's no denying the depths of Dwight's immense talent.

    Consider that Howard led the league in rebounding (12.4) for the fifth time in six seasons, came in second in field-goal percentage (.581) and finished fifth in blocks (2.4)...and it hasn't even been a year since he underwent major back surgery!

    There's no telling whether Dwight will ever be the same unstoppable force that he was even a season ago in Orlando. But the guy's been playing much better down the stretch, as if he's finally getting his feet back under him.

    And if, after an offseason of rest and training, Howard regains a greater semblance of his former self, the rest of the NBA had better be on notice in 2013-14, regardless of where Dwight ends up.

    Current Grade: B+ (88 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): N/A (NR)

11. Tim Duncan

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    Points: 17.8 

    Rebounds: 9.9

    Assists: 2.7

    Steals: 0.7

    Blocks: 2.7

    Field Goal Percentage: .503

    Three-Point Percentage: .286

    Free-Throw Attempts: 4.3

    Turnovers: 2.1

    Minutes: 30.2

    Games: 68

    Tim Duncan doesn't fear Father Time. If anything, Tim Duncan might be Father Time.

    He certainly played the part well enough this season. The Big Fundamental tallied 35 double-doubles in 68 games this season—good enough for 12th-most in the NBA and making him by far the oldest of that rebounding dozen.

    Duncan also anchored the San Antonio Spurs' third-ranked defense and came away with the third-most blocks per game (2.7).

    And he did all of this at the tender age of 36. If Duncan had logged more minutes than he did, he may well have wound up in the MVP conversation.

    Current Grade: A- (92 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): A- (No. 9)

10. Stephen Curry

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    Points: 23.0 

    Rebounds: 4.1

    Assists: 6.9

    Steals: 1.6

    Blocks: 0.2

    Field-Goal Percentage: .453

    Three-Point Percentage: .455

    Free-Throw Attempts: 3.8

    Turnovers: 3.1

    Minutes: 38.3

    Games: 77

    Think the Golden State Warriors are glad they gave Stephen Curry that four-year, $44 million extension at the start of the season? All he did was set new career highs in points (23.0) and assists (6.9), break Ray Allen's single-season record for made three-pointers and lead the Warriors to their first playoff appearance since 2007 and just their second in the last 19 years.

    Better yet, since his All-Star snub, Steph has upped the ante to 26.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.7 steals, with .480/.465/.893 shooting splits, a 47-point game against the Lakers and a 54-point game at Madison Square Garden.

    Seems like Curry's ankle is doing just fine these days.

    Current Grade: A (93 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): A- (No. 8)

9. Dwyane Wade

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    Points: 21.2 

    Rebounds: 5.0

    Assists: 5.0

    Steals: 1.9

    Blocks: 0.8

    Field-Goal Percentage: .519

    Three-Point Percentage: .258

    Free-Throw Attempts: 6.1

    Turnovers: 2.8

    Minutes: 34.8

    Games: 68

    A lack of late-season fitness depressed Dwyane Wade's superstar stock and left him out of the top 10 for a bit down the stretch. On the whole, though, Wade was spectacular when he played and was a crucial cog amid the Miami Heat's historic season.

    Wade may not be the same singularly destructive force that he was even just a couple years ago. But if a 21-5-5 line with a .519 field-goal percentage (a career high, by the way) is what passes for "twilight" in the 31-year-old Wade's world, then the Heat may well have many more championship-caliber seasons left in their window.

    Current Grade: A (94 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking):  N/A (NR)

T7. Russell Westbrook

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    Points: 23.4 

    Rebounds: 5.3

    Assists: 7.5

    Steals: 1.8

    Blocks: 0.3

    Field-Goal Percentage: .439

    Three-Point Percentage: .323

    Free-Throw Attempts: 7.1

    Turnovers: 3.4

    Minutes: 35.2

    Games: 81

    Slowly but surely, Russell Westbrook appears to be striking a more productive balance between "Good Russ" and "Bad Russ." He's rebounding better, racking up more assists, taking slightly fewer shots and scoring only a fraction of a point less than he did in 2011-12 on an Oklahoma City Thunder squad that is the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

    Westbrook has certainly had his ups and downs while helping to fill in for the dearly departed (to Houston) James Harden. There've been times when turnovers and emotions have gotten the best of Westbrook, as has occasionally been the case throughout his young career.

    On the whole, though, Russ remains one of the NBA's most lethal forces and will have every opportunity to prove, once again, that he's much more than just an uber-talented sidekick during the 2013 playoffs.

    Current Grade: A (95 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): A (No. 6)

T7. James Harden

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    Points: 25.9 

    Rebounds: 4.8

    Assists: 5.9

    Steals: 1.8

    Blocks: 0.5

    Field-Goal Percentage: .440

    Three-Point Percentage: .370

    Free-Throw Attempts: 10.1

    Turnovers: 3.8

    Minutes: 38.2

    Games: 77

    When James Harden was 23, it was a very good year...or so Frank Sinatra might've sung if Old Blue Eyes were around today. 

    After capturing the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award and his first gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, Harden was traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets, who subsequently lined his pockets with a five-year, $80 million extension and made him the focal point of their rebuilding project.

    Not that it took the Rockets long to "rebuild" with Harden at the helm. He finished among the top five in the NBA in scoring (fifth) and free-throw attempts (first), represented the host team at the 2013 All-Star Game and led Houston to its first postseason appearance since 2009.

    When Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady were still on the payroll.

    All in all, I'd say a jump from super-sub to top-10 talent for the Beard ain't bad for a year's work. Wouldn't you?

    Current Grade: A (95 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking):  A (No. 7)

6. Tony Parker

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    Points: 20.4 

    Rebounds: 3.0

    Assists: 7.6

    Steals: 0.8

    Blocks: 0.1

    Field-Goal Percentage: .524

    Three-Point Percentage: .353

    Free-Throw Attempts: 4.9

    Turnovers: 2.6

    Minutes: 33.0

    Games: 65

    Intermittent injuries derailed Tony Parker's MVP (runner-up) campaign to an extent, though they did little to dampen Parker's impact on this San Antonio Spurs squad.

    The five-time All-Star authored arguably his finest season to date, with a re-sharpened perimeter shooting stroke helping to expand his already lethal offensive repertoire. Parker's numbers (roughly a 20-3-8 line with .524/.353/.841) are plenty eye-popping in and of themselves, especially when you consider where and how well he shot from the field for a guard who's generously listed at 6'2".

    Then again, that's nothing new for Tony. Neither is the sort of regular-season success the Spurs once again achieved in 2012-13. What matters now is that those efforts aren't relegated to historical footnotes after a postseason flameout.

    Current Grade: A (96 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking):  N/A (NR)

5. Kobe Bryant

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    Points: 27.3 

    Rebounds: 5.6

    Assists: 6.0

    Steals: 1.4

    Blocks: 0.3

    Field-Goal Percentage: .463

    Three-Point Percentage: .324

    Free-Throw Attempts: 8.0

    Turnovers: 3.7

    Minutes: 38.6

    Games: 78

    Rather than focus on the tragedy of Kobe Bryant's torn Achilles, let's take a moment to reflect on the grit and greatness that preceded that particular gut-punch.

    One could easily argue that Kobe's 2012-13 campaign was the best ever by a 34-year-old—on the offensive end, anyway. Michael Jordan had a higher scoring average and shot slightly better from the field in 1997-98 than did Kobe this year, but His Airness' assist totals and three-point accuracy paled in comparison to those of the Black Mamba.

    Lofty historical comparisons aside, what made Kobe's season at once remarkable and regrettable was that the Los Angeles Lakers needed every ounce of it just to make the playoffs.

    In a sense, Bryant's efforts were wasted on a supremely disappointing squad that was dragged down by injuries, coaching changes, roster changes and poor chemistry, among other things.

    Then again, the fact that Kobe practically killed his career just to save the Lakers from the ultimate embarrassment speaks volumes of his determination and desire to succeed, irrespective of the potential price. 

    Current Grade: A (97 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): A (No. 5)

4. Chris Paul

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    Points: 16.8 

    Rebounds: 3.7

    Assists: 9.7

    Steals: 2.4

    Blocks: 0.1

    Field-Goal Percentage: .480

    Three-Point Percentage: .332

    Free-Throw Attempts: 4.6

    Turnovers: 2.3

    Minutes: 33.3

    Games: 69

    Here's what we know about the Los Angeles Clippers after two seasons with Chris Paul: They're screwed without him.

    The Clippers went 6-6 without Paul in the lineup during a three-week stretch between January and February—a pace far from that which led L.A. to its first-ever 50-win season and Pacific Division crown.

    He orchestrated their offense, particularly in the half court. He was their offense in crunch time, when Paul was so often the only Clipper capable of creating his own shot. He sparked the Clips on defense, where his quick hands helped him to wrap up his fifth steals title in the last six seasons.

    Without CP3, the Clips are probably still languishing in the lottery. With him, they are going to the playoffs for a second straight year with a top-four seed in the Western Conference.

    Current Grade: A (98 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): A (No. 4)

3. Carmelo Anthony

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    Points: 28.7 

    Rebounds: 6.9

    Assists: 2.6

    Steals: 0.8

    Blocks: 0.5

    Field-Goal Percentage: .449

    Three-Point Percentage: .379

    Free-Throw Attempts: 7.6

    Turnovers: 2.6

    Minutes: 37.0

    Games: 67

    Carmelo Anthony has long been considered one of the NBA's premier scorers. After 10 years in the league, he'll finally have the title to prove it.

    The scoring title, that is. 'Melo wrapped up his first scoring crown with a late-season surge that just so happened to help the New York Knicks secure the No. 2 seed in the East and their first Atlantic Division title since 1994.

    Not a bad way for this superstar to come of age, though it won't matter much unless Anthony leads the Knicks at least as far as the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Current Grade: A (99 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking):  A+ (No. 2)

2. Kevin Durant

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    Points: 28.1 

    Rebounds: 7.9

    Assists: 4.6

    Steals: 1.4

    Blocks: 1.3

    Field-Goal Percentage: .510

    Three-Point Percentage: .416

    Free-Throw Attempts: 9.3

    Turnovers: 3.5

    Minutes: 38.5

    Games: 81

    It's sad to see Kevin Durant's streak of scoring titles snapped at three—though, if the NBA still determined its scoring champ by total points rather than per-game average, KD would have his fourth straight.

    Not that Durant has anything of which to be ashamed. He's just completed the finest season of his still-young career.

    He finished mere percentage points behind Carmelo Anthony in the scoring race while setting new personal bests in assists (4.6), blocks (1.4) and steals (1.3). He also established new career highs in shooting across the board to cement his place in NBA history as just the eighth member of the 50-40-90 Club (with a minimum of 30 games played).

    Most importantly, he led the Thunder to their first 60-plus-win season and first No. 1 seed in the Western Conference since the team fled Seattle for Oklahoma City, despite the preseason departure of James Harden.

    Now, all Durant needs to do is upend a peak-of-his-powers LeBron James somehow and the title of "Best in the Game" will belong to him...

    Good luck with that.

    Current Grade: A+ (105 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking):  A+ (No. 2)

1. LeBron James

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    Points: 26.8 

    Rebounds: 8.0

    Assists: 7.3

    Steals: 1.7

    Blocks: 0.9

    Field-Goal Percentage: .565

    Three-Point Percentage: .406

    Free-Throw Attempts: 7.0

    Turnovers: 3.0

    Minutes: 37.9

    Games: 76

    What's there to say about LeBron James' epic 2012-13 season that hasn't already etched into his personal hagiography a gajillion times over?

    The guy was incredible last year, when he captured his third MVP in four years. His transcendent, championship-caliber season caused us to wonder whether (and, if so, how) he could top himself in this, his age-28 season. 

    Which, of course, he did rather emphatically. He sharpened his three-point shot and continued to improve his post-up game, as both a facilitator and a scorer. His greater proximity to the basket left him in better position to crash the boards, oop alleys and collect easy putbacks.

    Even with all of that responsibility, James remained a pest on the defensive end, as much in one-on-one situations as in help.

    The Miami Heat put their full faith in LeBron by retooling the roster to complement his particular talents over the summer. James has not only rewarded their faith in doing so, but also far exceeded the lofty expectations set for him prior to the season.

    Current Grade: A++ (110 Percent)

    Last Week's Grade (and Ranking): A++ (No. 1)