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2013 NBA Playoffs: Thunder vs Grizzlies Final Series Grades

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The Thunder fell in Round 2 to the tenacious Memphis Grizzlies, putting an end to a promising season far earlier than anyone expected. Let us take a look back at how each player performed for the entirety.

The test is over. How did we all do?
The test is over. How did we all do?

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2nd round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, 4-1. In a series that was hair-splittingly close until it wasn't, we are left to enter the long off-season with a series of what-if's on our minds. Before we get to those questions, we take a final look at how each player performed in these 5 grit-grind-games.

Individual Game Grades

Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5

Rockets Round 1 Series Grades


(All statistics are series averages)


28.8 PPG, 10.4 REB, 6.6 AST, 1.2 ST, 1.2 BL, 4.4 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_bplus_medium I've said my piece about Durant in another article, and it pretty much echoes what J.A. says below. Kevin Durant blew a lot of opportunities in the fourth quarter after some amazing games because he was asked to do too much. Still, he did the best job that he could. However, this series did do an effective job of proving that Kevin Durant would make an excellent point guard. His court vision is almost as good as James Harden's, and his ballhandling and passing have definitely improved over the years. So I'll give him a B+ for showing off new skills, but I can't go any higher than that because of his bad clutch performance. Is this unfair? Totally.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
It is all but impossible to give Kevin Durant any sort of meaningful grade for this series. If you look at his game-by-game statistics, you see a steady decline in efficiency and production. After game 1, an ending that featured Durant hitting a dagger and reminding everyone how great he can be, the wear and tear of dealing with a Grizzly defense that was exclusively designed to shut down KD and no other for upwards of 45 minutes a game (including all 48 in Game 5) took its toll. Durant may not have played great in games 2-5, but I honestly don't know how he could have played any better.


13.8 PPG, 6.2 REB, 3.8 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.4 BL, 1.8 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_cplus_medium Reggie Jackson didn't exactly have a break out performance in this series. He's shown us all that he's an effective combo guard that's adept at creating his own shot within the mid-range, which is something that we already knew. But I can't help feeling like he didn't take enough of a role handling the ball in this series. Not being able to knock down threes or guard Mike Conley is forgiveable, but he really needed to take a bigger role with the offense and setting up other players. It would have given KD more time to relax, given the Thunder better shots, and gotten him away from that cursed three point line. He's an effective player and I look forward to seeing what he has next season, but as for now, I feel like he could have been so much more.
Sherman Grade_aminus_medium
For Reggie Jackson, this series will be remembered for two reasons: 1) he made us forget about Eric Maynor forever; and 2) he may have just written his ticket right out of OKC because there's little chance he's going to spend his career as a backup. Jackson's game is still by and large limited to drives to the rim and 10 foot jump shots, but he proved throughout the series that he is now very comfortable attacking a top-flight defense. While he did make some potentially costly mistakes (fouling the 3-point shooter at the end of Game 1), Jackson never made those mistakes a habit, but improved as the series went along. Next year, put him in the backcourt along side Westbrook and you've got a scary looking duo that can attack on both offense and defense.


12.6 PPG, 8.4 REB, 0.4 AST, 3.2 BL, 0.8 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_b_medium I'm neither here nor there on Serge Ibaka. For a while, it looked like he was going to have a really terrible series, missing the routine mid-range jumpers that he so often makes. But he recovered to his normal mode of production, and did a hell of a job on defense. I know a lot of us were expecting more from him, but the harsh reality is that Serge Ibaka can't create his own shot. That's where Reggie could have helped him out immensely, and where Westbrook was missed most. Hopefully he'll learn more of a back-to-the-basket game during the off-season. Given how much he's improved over the years, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get one.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
Serge Ibaka looked like he was about to disappear in this series, but what we were missing was that Ibaka fully committed himself to solid low-post defense. As I had offered earlier, if we fans had a choice of Ibaka playing either great offense or great defense in this series, which one would we have chosen? Most likely we would have gone with the latter, because by keeping the Thunder in games with great defense, Ibaka helped give them a shot to win in the end. Make no mistake - he did this. He helped give OKC a shot to win in every single game. They just didn't quite make it happen. The offense is an area where he will continue to improve, but for now I am very satisfied that Ibaka did not shrink from the moment as he has in the past.


4.6 PPG, 3.4 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.6 ST, 0.8 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_cminus_medium I really thought that Thabo was going to be a force offensively, but at the end of the day, he's a limited player. When he's not hitting threes or running the break, he's useless. I would have liked to see him more involved in pushing the ball up the floor and increasing the pace of the game, but there just wasn't a catalyst to put him in that position. Defensively, Thabo was as important as ever, using his length to defend Conley, much in the same vein as Klay Thompson, who effectively shut down Tony Parker. But I still feel like he didn't do enough to pressure, while also straying too far from three point shooters.
Sherman Grade_c_medium
Thabo Sefolosha had come so far this season in terms of his own offense that I expected he'd be able to contribute more in the post-season. However, when Russell Westbrook went down, so did Thabo's offensive game. Sefolosha is still primarily a one dimensional offensive player, but next year hopefully somebody other than Westbrook will learn how to set him up better. Defensively Thabo still did a solid job helping to keep Mike Conley out of the lane, but he also had a tendency to get sucked in too far on weak double-downs against the Grizzlies big men. As a result, the two Memphis guys who can hit 3-pointers - Conley and Jarryd Bayless - found some success that kept them in games.


2.4 PPG, 4.2 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.6 BL, 2.2 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_f_medium Statistically, Kendrick Perkins had one of the worst playoff runs of all time. Think about that for a second. His lateral quickness is totally gone, he hedges way too often on screens, he couldn't defend Gasol's jump shot effectively, he kept letting Zach Randolph get post position, he fumbled away key passes, and his own jump shot has gone the way of the Dodo. Sure, he can defend the drive, sometimes keep his opponent away from the rim, and get some offensive boards. But he's just not at the level that he should be and has been. Regular season Kendrick Perkins was pretty good, playoff Kendrick Perkins almost made me pine for Hasheem Thabeet. Almost.
Sherman Grade_dplus_medium
Kendrick Perkins is an enigma at this point. His coach and teammates will defend him to the death, and for that, he has to have value to the team. However, what was plain to many an observer is that Perkins' offense and his defense were actively hurting the team. He was foul prone and turnover prone and as the series wound down he was seeing his minutes decline just as in the Houston series. I think what really awoke me to Perkins' increasing physical limitations is when on two separate occasions he had a clear path to the rim, and both times he was so slow to collect himself and finish, he had his shot blocked. This is going to be one of the most forgettable playoffs of Perkins' career.


14.4 PPG, 3.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.2 ST, 0.4 BL, 0.8 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_cplus_medium As J.A. Sherman notes below, Kevin Martin's play definitely picked up during this series. He wasn't missing as many open shots, he worked for mid-range opportunities, he ran the break, and he snuck to the rim on off-ball cuts. But the one thing I felt was incredibly lacking was his three point shooting. He got plenty of opportunities from that area, and the Thunder really needed him to produce from there while the team was struggling. But even in a small lineup, he shot primarily inside the arc, which is a total contrast to how he played in the regular season. Basically, he exceeded expectations in some areas, but failed in others. His defense appears to be improving though, so that's a good sign.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
Kevin Martin had a history of playing well against Memphis, and at times that history played itself out well. Unfortunately, too often Martin could not get the ball in good scoring position, due in part because of the Thunder's slowed down offense and the fact that his partner in crime Nick Collison spent much of the series riding the pine with foul trouble. To his credit, Martin did not miss as many open jumpers as during the Houston series, but unfortunately for the Thunder his open attempts were few and far between. I still like Martin as part of the bench make-up, but this will be an interesting summer for free agent K-Mart.


9.4 PPG, 1.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.6 ST, 1.0 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_cplus_medium I'm sure Thunder fans will always fondly remember Derek Fisher, especially when his career finally ends in 2016 or so. Even I have a hard time hating him at this point. He's a really intelligent player that made some really crucial defensive and passing plays down the stretch. He has a cool head in the clutch, and can hit game-winning threes like they're nothing. The sad thing is, Derek Fisher is old. Though no one pointed it out, he was always a huge defensive matchup liability, and gave a lot of free trips to the rim. He could never handle the ball effectively, and that's no more apparent than now, at 38 years old. And when you get right down to it, his shot just isn't as consistent as it used to be. Flashes of Fisher are always there, but when you look at the sum total of what he's done, he's been a net negative. Still, he is what he is.
Sherman Grade_cplus_medium
Derek Fisher, man. What are we going to do with this guy? At times, he was a revelation. At other times like in Game 5, he fulfilled my worst nightmares. Does that mean his contribution evened out? Here is the problem, in a nutshell. Fisher would have made the perfect 3rd string backup PG behind Reggie Jackson. However, that isn't how Brooks chose to use him, instead treating Fisher as the de facto shooting guard who couldn't shoot or defend. To Fisher's credit he did hit a hot streak earlier in the series, and that was quite a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, his shooting regressed to the mean and by Game 5, he was hoisting 11 3-pointers, and only hitting 2* of them. Every time he hoisted another, I started getting John Starks flashbacks. However, the problematic question remained. If not Fisher, then who?


3.6 PPG, 4.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.8 BL, 2.0 TO

Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_b_medium Conspiracy theorists would love to point out how Nick Collison nearly fouled out of every game for the first time in his career. Whether there's anything to that is anybody's guess, but it is fair to say that a lot of his fouls were pretty weak. Still, this is the playoffs, and you've got to learn to adjust your defense to the ref's calls. Collison didn't. Still, he did an excellent job of containing Randolph when he was on the floor, did a great job of rebounding, and did his usual job on offense. All in all, I really just wish he had more time on the floor.
Sherman Grade_c_medium Nick Collison is going to be haunted by this series for a long, long time as a series of what could have been. There are few other players in the NBA who can defend against Zach Randolph the way Collison can, yet for whatever reason, Collison could not avoid picking up quick fouls. Playing against Z-Bo is like dancing a Tango with elbows and body blows, and if you're not careful, you can get knocked out. When Nick was able to stay in the game, he did a solid job on both ends of the court. However, in the end that was the problem. Furthermore, without Westbrook Collison's open looks at the rim were few and far between, yet another way the Thunder were hurt by the loss of their leader.


Grade Comments
Zorgon Grade_bplus_medium I was mildly impressed by what Scott Brooks was able to do in this series. He was willing to try new things (though slower than most), and he realized the ineffectiveness of certain players and was willing to yank them when the time called for it. Still, he does favor certain players for no reason at times, and, as I've pointed out before, didn't rest Durant. On the scale of Scott Brooks, I'd say he wholly exceeded expectations. But he's still a middle of the road coach in my book. Hopefully the offense becomes more dynamic in the off-season, and he gives players roles they're suited for, rather than roles that fit into a particular system. Most of all, I hope he gives the young guys some burn.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
Scott Brooks came into the Memphis series with serious questions about his ability to adapt. While his coaching decisions and roster rotations are still quirky at times, I think he did enough in this series, despite the loss, to show that he has grown in these playoffs. That said, the one question that will remain for a long time is why he didn't give Durant more rest. To be sure Brooks probably thought that resting Durant in the 2nd half of games would have spelled doom, but he perhaps missed the fact that the Grizzlies don't run away from teams like the Spurs or Heat do. Their offense comes in starts and stops, so a rested Durant at the ends of games would still have been potentially able to provide winning points. No, the big failing by Brooks this year was in not developing a more tested offensive system that could weather the loss of key players. Once Westbrook went down, there was no system in place on which the players could rely. We can only hope this now 3-year oversight will be addressed in the offseason.