Thunder vs Mavericks 2012 Playoffs Round 1: Final Player Grades

Round 1 is in the books and either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Denver Nuggets are on the horizon, but we are still afforded a few days to reflect on the series that just transpired. Here are our respective grades for each of the individual Thunder players as well as the coach.

KEVIN DURANT

26.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 3.8 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_cminus_medium
You've gotta grade guys based on their expectations, and I think Kevin Durant fell a little bit below those expectations in this series. He went through a few cold streaks, and he let Shawn Marion get the best of him a couple of times. Also, he never really had any late game heroics that propelled the Thunder above where they should have been. Most of his work came during times that you wouldn't notice it. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but we need to see a bit more of KD in the fourth. Lastly, I will say that his defense on Shawn Marion wasn't very good in the first two games.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_b_medium
Kevin Durant came into the series with a huge bulls-eye on his back because he is the Thunder's best player and the Mavericks knew they had to keep him in check. While Durant struggled in Game 1, he did hit a memorable game winner. Overall his play was uneven, but unlike in years' past he did not force his game, but let the opportunities come to him so that he was a net asset in the end. As an added benefit, Durant was the team's leading rebounder in the series.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK

22.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 2.5 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_a_medium The only reason I don't give him an A+ is the amount of turnovers he had early on in the series while not handling the ball as much as he usually does. Other than that, Westbrook was superb. He knows his limitations and works with them. You don't see him trying to make telegraphed passes out of the lane late in the fourth anymore, and he's more willing to work off the ball. But, you have to wonder if he's lost a bit of his edge....

Sherman's Grade
Grade_a_medium
Russell Westbrook turned a huge corner in this series, becoming everything he was not a year ago. He was patient with his offense, knew when to attack and when to hold back, and was the biggest factor in Games 1 & 2's wins. Even in Game 4, a year ago Westbrook might have kept shooting to get himself on track, but this time out he realized that his team did not need that to recover, so he pulled back and let others take the scoring lead. Most importantly, Westbrook's defense on Jason Terry & Jason Kidd was a game changer throughout the entire series.

JAMES HARDEN

18.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2.5 SPG, 2.3 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_aplus_medium
The reasons are obvious. Late game and bench hero. Couldn't have asked for more out of the guy.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_a_medium
James Harden gets an 'A' for the 4th quarter of Game 4, alone, but his work didn't stop there. In each game Harden proved just how valuable he is, consistently leading the 2nd unit so that they always stayed competitive while the starters rested.

More grades after the jump.

SERGE IBAKA

11.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 3.3 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.8 TPG

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_aminus_medium
Considering how badly Dirk did in this series compared to his regular season stats, I'm willing to give Ibaka most of the credit for shutting this guy down. His offensive game was also extremely efficient, as he pretty much saved the team in game 1 and contributed solidly in games 3 and 4. Yeah, he got in foul trouble a couple of times, but I'm willing to forgive and forget.

Sherman's
Grade
Grade_b_medium
Serge Ibaka once again anchored a stout interior defense throughout the series, averaging almost four blocks per game. Given that Dallas is a jump shooting team, that's quite the accomplishment. He scored a playoff career high 22 in Game 1 and again provided opportunistic offense. His only shortcoming was some foul trouble that kept him off the court, and once again he struggled in guarding Dirk Nowitzki on the perimeter (but then again, who doesn't?).

DEREK FISHER

8.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.3 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 TPG

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_aplus_medium
I hate to admit it, but Derek Fisher totally obliterated the expectations I had of him. His regular season was trash, and I really didn't think he would do much more than miss threes in the playoffs. But his late game successes against sub-par teams were no fluke. He's re-mastered the mid-range jumper, and hitting threes better than Daequan Cook. The old adage proves true: Derek Fisher only hits shots when it matters.

Sherman's
Grade
Grade_a_medium

Maturity, toughness, playoff experience, yada yada yada....the biggest thing that Derek Fisher did in this series was make shots. He shot 14-24 in the series and had double digits in Games 2, 3, and 4. My biggest concern for Fisher was whether or not he could actually deliver when he had open looks, and for at least this round, he performed at a high level.

KENDRICK PERKINS

3.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.8 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 1.0 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_b_medium
The only memorable Perk moment in this series is when he went off for some early points in Game 2. That helped things out, but other than that, he was pretty much not on the radar. What you may not remember, though, is how he was switched onto Dirk in the later Part of Game 1 and helped force two turnovers that basically won the game. Other than that, he guarded guys who don't really contribute offensively, so it's hard to say how good he did.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_bminus_medium
Kendrick Perkins' contributions are always difficult to quantify, so the best way to evaluate him is to look at how the opposing team shot and rebounded against the OKC defense, because above all else, Perkins is the defensive coordinator who directs how the defense operates. On this level, Perkins helped limit the Mavs to only 40% shooting (below their 44% season average), but allowed them a slight offensive rebounding advantage, which led to some easy put-back opportunities.

DAEQUAN COOK

3.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.0 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_d_medium
He hit one big three, not much else. Missed a lot of shots.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_c_medium

With the amount of attention that Dallas had to give to Durant and Westbrook, this could have been the type of series where Daequan Cook took advantage of open looks. Unfortunately his shot was off for most of the series as he looked like he was rushing his shot attempts. He did however have a huge 3-pointer at the beginning of the 4th quarter in Game 4 which helped ignite the come-back, so he still had an impact on the bottom line.

THABO SEFOLOSHA

3.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.0 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_bplus_medium
Great defense on Carter and Terry, can't fault him for that. Both of them had at least one arguably lackluster game, and you could see that Sefolosha played a big hand in that. I never really expect him to shut anybody down, so I'm giving him a high grade. Still, I expected a bit more out of him offensively, because he usually gives an efficient effort in one out of every four games or so.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_bminus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha is known primarily for his defense, and for this he played solidly if unspectacularly. Most of the time he was matched up against either Jason Terry or Vince Carter, and neither one played critical roles in the Mavericks' chances down the stretch. Like Cook however, I felt like there were more opportunities for Thabo to look to score, but he never looked quite comfortable enough in shooting the ball.

NICK COLLISON

2.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 1.0 TPG


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_b_medium You've gotta love this guy's basketball IQ, and his effort in guarding the offensive machine known as Dirk Nowitzki. Again, his stats didn't really show up on the board, and he averaged an astounding 4.3 fouls in only 19 minutes. Still, he was always where he needed to be, and he never disappointed when called on. Gotta give this guy some credit.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_bminus_medium
Nick Collison had the unenviable task of guarding Dirk most of the time when he was in the game, which led to the inevitable result of picking up a lot of quick fouls, which limited his overall effectiveness. However, Collison persevered and drew a critical foul in Game 4 which led to his converting two clutch free throws in the 4th quarter. Overall, I feel like Collison had the opportunity to contribute more on offense, but his teammates need to look to him to create some bonus scoring opportunities.

NAZR MOHAMMED

2.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 BPG, 0.0 SPG, 0.0 TPG

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_b_medium Pretty much the same reason Sherman gives below. Having this guy ready and able to come off the bench as our fourth big man is a absolute godsend, especially when you look at the depth of other teams at that position.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_b_medium
Nazr Mohammed was called upon really only in one instance to contribute when it mattered, and that was in Game 4 after Kendrick Perkins was injured. Mohammed responded by scoring 4 points and grabbing 2 rebounds in 11 minutes of action. In short, even though he was by and large a non-factor in the series, he did his job when he had to.

SCOTT BROOKS

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_b_medium I don't know if I'll ever give Scott Brooks an A, because he hardly ever makes in-game changes, and his strategy going into games is "stick with what works, while maybe changing one thing". I can't fault him for that, and I do think he's a good coach that did a great job in this series. Still, I don't credit him with winning us this series by "giving Harden the ball". To get an A from me, you've got to do a bit better than that, especially on out-of-bounds plays.

Sherman's Grade
Grade_a_medium
For the first time that I can remember, Scott Brooks did not looked overmatched in the coaching match-up, going up against a very good coach in Rick Carlisle. He was judicious in his use of time-outs, he kept the team even-keel even when they fell behind in Games 1 and 4, he switch Westbrook onto Jason Terry, thereby making Terry a non-factor, and last but not least, he put the ball in Harden's hands and let him make plays.
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