Updated Postseason Report Card Grades for Every NBA Superstar

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 19, 2013

Updated Postseason Report Card Grades for Every NBA Superstar

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    Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Stephen Curry have bowed out of the NBA playoffs, but don't worry; there are plenty of NBA superstars left to grade.

    The usual suspects are all here, as well as a few unappreciated names who very much deserve recognition as elite players. Because these guys have all led their teams deep into the playoffs, there are bound to be some high marks. And remember, these report cards are based on the totality of each player's postseason contributions.

    Now that we've hit the midway point of the postseason, the stakes are higher than ever. So no matter how high these stars grade out, they'll all have to raise their games going forward.

    Let's get to it.

Honorable Mention: The Dearly Departed

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    It's going to be hard to say goodbye to these two guys, but after being eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals, Curry and Durant won't be included in the forthcoming grades. Because they were among the best players involved in the NBA's postseason tournament, they deserve a couple of final grades, don't you think?


    Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

    It's tough to look past Carmelo Anthony's ugly shooting percentages, but it's even tougher to determine whether the shots that have produced them—long jumpers and isolation drives into trouble—are a result of Anthony's own poor shot selection or Mike Woodson's dubious offensive scheming.

    And there's also the little issue of the defenses 'Melo has had to face. The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers both specialize in making life awfully rough for one-on-one scorers.

    Anthony gets credit for playing hard throughout the postseason, despite the frustration of dealing with stingy defenses and the pain of his bothersome shoulder. Plus, he went out with a bang, dropping 39 in his final playoff game.

    Playoff Grade: B


    Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

    Curry set the league on fire during his two-round run, putting up a pair of 22-point quarters and forcing defenses to re-evaluate just how far they were willing to stretch themselves to make sure he never saw an inch of daylight.

    With postseason averages of 23.4 points, 8.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds, Curry was as productive as any star in these playoffs. More than that, though, he was fun. Few players have ever created the sense of anticipation Curry did whenever he loped up the floor with the rock, surveying the defense and probing for an opening to let his jumper fly.

    Thirty-footers never looked so easy.

    Final Playoff Grade: A-


    Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Durant did everything he could against a Grizzlies defense that was focused entirely on stopping him, but in the end, he just couldn't carry his broken team (and overmatched coach) out of the second round.

    He might catch some flack for finishing his semifinal series by making only 15-of-48 shots over the final two games, but the poor guy was exhausted. The fact that he escaped the postseason without blowing out a lung is a minor miracle.

    With final averages of 30.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists in over 44 minutes per game, Durant gave everything he had. He just didn't get enough help.


    Final Playoff Grade: A

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    Points: 13.0

    Rebounds: 4.8

    Assists: 5.4

    Steals: 1.9

    Blocks: 0.8

    Field-Goal Percentage: .453

    Free-Throw Percentage: .750

    Three-Point Percentage: .000


    Outside of an impressive fourth-quarter burst in Game 5 against the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade hasn't looked like himself in these playoffs.

    Bothered by a cranky knee, Miami's shooting guard has been taking it easy whenever possible, which helps explain some of his unimpressive production. Beyond that, though, Wade has simply lacked the explosiveness he once used to generate easy points.

    With just 24 free-throw attempts in the postseason, Wade has had to rely on his shaky jumper to score. And while his field-goal percentage is passable, he can't stretch the floor as a three-point shooter and has been surprisingly turnover-prone.

    Like James, it's possible that he's saving himself for when his team really needs him. But to this point, Wade has been just slightly better than average.


    Playoff Grade: C+

Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

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    Points: 14.0

    Rebounds: 9.6

    Assists: 1.6

    Steals: 0.2

    Blocks: 2.5

    Field-Goal Percentage: .473

    Free-Throw Percentage: .807

    Three-Point Percentage: .000


    When he's been able to avoid foul trouble, Roy Hibbert has been the most impactful defender in these playoffs. And even though he's become something of an expert at challenging shots without picking up the personals, the fact that the Pacers funnel everything toward him means he's exposed to contact far more than most centers.

    Sometimes, even he can't avoid a few early whistles.

    When he manages to stay in the game, though, Hibbert's been brilliant. He pulled down double-digit boards four times against the Knicks and blocked a total of 19 shots in the six-game series.

    With signs that his offensive game may be catching up (the big man scored more than 20 points twice against New York), Hibbert has used these playoffs to announce his arrival as one of the best two-way centers in the game.


    Playoff Grade: B

Paul George, Indiana Pacers

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    Points: 19.1

    Rebounds: 8.3

    Assists: 5.0

    Steals: 1.8

    Blocks: 0.6

    Field-Goal Percentage: .404

    Free-Throw Percentage: .710

    Three-Point Percentage: .271


    Try to look past the shooting percentages with Paul George, as scoring is probably the least important (and least polished) area of his game. In every other facet, the Indiana Pacers young swing man has been an absolute monster.

    He's hitting the glass, finding his teammates and playing fantastic defense against all comers. Think of him as the evolutionary Andre Iguodala.

    George has plenty more time to develop, but for his all-around work so far, he's deserving of a solid overall grade.


    Playoff Grade: B+

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

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    Points: 18.7

    Rebounds: 9.2

    Assists: 1.7

    Steals: 0.9

    Blocks: 1.2

    Field-Goal Percentage: .457

    Free-Throw Percentage: .848

    Three-Point Percentage: .000


    Someday, Tim Duncan will stop doing this. "This," of course, refers to putting up terrific offensive numbers, holding down the paint on defense and leading his team deep into the playoffs.

    Fortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, that day doesn't appear to be on the immediate horizon.

    Duncan isn't nearly as mobile as he once was, which has limited his ability to defend in space. In fact, his diminished foot speed led Gregg Popovich to bench Duncan down the stretch against the go-go Warriors in Game 6. Like a true pro, Duncan accepted the demotion without complaint.

    He's not likely to suffer the same fate against the bruising Memphis Grizzlies, who'll present the Spurs with a pair of lumbering bigs with whom Duncan can wrestle on the block.

    Firmly back in his defensive comfort zone, expect Duncan to continue terrific play into the Western Conference Finals.


    Playoff Grade: B+

Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Points: 18.3

    Rebounds: 7.9

    Assists: 2.9

    Steals: 0.9

    Blocks: 2.2

    Field-Goal Percentage: .476

    Free-Throw Percentage: .792

    Three-Point Percentage: .000


    Without much in the way of interior scorers, the Oklahoma City Thunder hardly gave Marc Gasol a chance to flex his defensive muscle in the Western Conference Semifinals. Then again, his nine blocks over the series final two games showed that he at least contented himself by turning away the attempts of OKC's penetrating guards.

    Gasol's conventional stats are all excellent, and it seems as though the public at large has finally come around to his skills as a defender (he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award for his work in the regular season), but it's easier to get an idea of the big man's value by watching him.

    He'll do something subtle on almost every play that helps his team win. Whether it's a quick help rotation or an understated head nod that indicates he wants his teammate to cut backdoor, the little things Gasol does are everywhere. In short, the Spaniard holds his team together on both ends. Without him, Memphis is a rudderless ship.

    Gasol has been an All-Star and has now earned some hardware for his defense, but it's possible that he's still among the league's most underrated players. Well, that stops here.


    Playoff Grade: A-

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    Points: 22.4

    Rebounds: 6.3

    Assists: 4.1

    Steals: 0.9

    Blocks: 0.2

    Field-Goal Percentage: .452

    Free-Throw Percentage: .781

    Three-Point Percentage: .375


    The Golden State Warriors thought they had Tony Parker all figured out. In Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Dubs forced Parker to his left on every pick-and-roll, daring him to pull up from 17 feet for as many jumpers as he wanted.

    The Spurs point guard made just 7-of-17 from the field against that strategy, and the Spurs fell to the Warriors in San Antonio for the first time in 16 years.

    But it turned out that Parker wouldn't be nearly so easy to contain, as he exploded in Game 3, drilling the very same jumpers he missed and piling up 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting. That game effectively determined the series, leaving the Warriors without a clear way to defend him.

    Even when he was bad against Golden State, he was good. After making just one shot in the first 44 minutes of the Spurs' series-clinching Game 6 win, he buried two triples to ice the game in the final 3:35.

    Parker remains something of a defensive liability, especially against bigger guards, but he's so difficult to contain on offense that it hardly matters. He's still devastatingly quick, and when defenses send a second man to help against his drives into the lane, Parker has no trouble finding the shooters San Antonio always positions in the corners.

    Duncan is San Antonio's legend-in-residence, but Parker has been their best player during this postseason.


    Playoff Grade: A-

Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Points: 19.7

    Rebounds: 9.3

    Assists: 1.9

    Steals: 0.7

    Blocks: 0.3

    Field-Goal Percentage: .512

    Free-Throw Percentage: .729

    Three-Point Percentage: .000


    Maybe it was the late-season ankle sprain that did it. Or perhaps, it was a troubling statistical downturn toward the end of the 2012-13 campaign that had folks worried that they'd seen the last days of Zach Randolph as a dominant offensive player.

    Whatever the cause for concern was, it's long gone now; Z-Bo has been wearing out defensive players with his signature face-up jumper and low-post game throughout the playoffs. With his return to form, the Grizzlies have easily had that best big-man tandem of any postseason team.

    With 28 points and 14 rebounds in Game 5 against the Thunder, Randolph showed just how punishing of an interior force he could be. The Spurs have a pair of solid defenders in Duncan and Tiago Splitter to throw at him, but when he gets it going on offense, there's really no individual defender that can slow him down.

    Randolph has been terrific.


    Playoff Grade: A-

LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    Points: 24.0

    Rebounds: 7.3

    Assists: 7.3

    Steals: 1.7

    Blocks: 0.2

    Field-Goal Percentage: .518

    Free-Throw Percentage: .768

    Three-Point Percentage: .321


    It's funny; virtually all of James' postseason averages have dipped below those of his superhuman regular season, and yet he still seems like the most dominant player of these playoffs. That's probably because he's been remarkably consistent.

    James has scored at least 19 points in every playoff game this year, but never more than 30. He's also posted at least five assists and five rebounds each time he's suited up, but has reached double digits in either category just once: when he grabbed 10 boards in Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Nobody has challenged the Heat, who have fallen just once in nine playoff games, thus far, so it makes sense that James is essentially doing just enough to assure victory without overexerting himself.

    Standard metrics aside, James is still playing world-class defense, teleporting all over the floor and helping the Heat to a defensive rating of 93.4, the second-best of any playoff team.

    He'll probably have to step on the gas eventually, but even on cruise control, James has been excellent.


    Playoff Grade: A