With the Eastern Conference Finals well on their way, I thought it might be fun to switch things up a bit. There have been standouts, letdowns and the in-betweens so far this series, so let us see how each Miami Heat player ranks.
LeBron James: James has not been perfect thus far, mainly due to slow starts, but I would still give him an A-. He has been putting up consistent numbers, being aggressive and motivating his teammates. Besides starting off on a stronger foot, what I personally would like to see from him is more urgency. Yes, he is currently the best in the league. And yes, the Heat stand a pretty good chance at a three-peat. But in this league you really never know, so being complacent is not an option. Plus, with James being James, I expect the world from him and more. He is doing great without a doubt, but being as gifted as he is, there is always room for improvement.
Dwyane Wade: Although I will admit that James is my favorite player, Wade has impressed me tremendously as of late. He was the lead scorer in Game 1 and Game 2, has been moving the ball well and gives no sign of being plagued with knee injuries. At this point, I give him an A and hope he keeps up the good work.
Chris Bosh: I have probably said this ad nauseam already but Bosh has been a major disappointment thus far against the Indiana Pacers. He has scored nine points in each matchup, and was only really effective defensively in Game 2; because of this, I have to hit him with a C+. Whether Bosh is tired, overwhelmed or frightened, I cannot say, but at this point I am sick of complaining about him.
Udonis Haslem: Truthfully, Haslem has not gotten enough of a chance during the Eastern Conference Finals for me to fairly judge him. He has only played an average of 15.4 minutes but based off of what he has brought to the table defensively, and the energy he has displayed, I think he deserves a B-. As a starter for the last two games, I did expect a little more out of him, but he more or less held his own.
Mario Chalmers: Strangely enough, Chalmers (like Bosh) also scored the same number of points (six to be exact) each game. Although scoring has not been his strong suit in this series, he has been creating opportunities for other players. It is also clear to me how bad he wants to advance, which for the most part is a positive thing; however, at times he has let his emotions get the best of him. I think right now, a C+ would be appropriate.
Norris Cole: I have been riding with Cole since before he even got signed by the Heat so I may be a little bias, but I am giving Cole an A. Cole has pretty much done it all so far for Miami, and I only expect his stellar performance to continue. He is great under pressure. He both shoots lights out and creates open looks for his teammates; he is even effective defensively. What more could you want?
Chris Andersen: Andersen is another fellow I have been fond of for a while, but is now competing at an entirely different level. Whether it is the number of years under his belt, the fact that he has been given a second chance, or simply being around superstar talent, Andersen has been quite a pleasure to watch recently. He was a huge help offensively in Game 1, and then conversely defensively in Game 2, when he played more minutes than everyone except James and Wade. All in all, Andersen receives an A from me.
Ray Allen: Allen is playing better at his age than a lot of young athletes currently in the league are. Some nights he is stronger offensively, and others his talent comes out through defense, but regardless he is a solid second-string choice for the Heat. His late Game 3 performance was incredible, and I am amazed at the level of intensity he possesses. The veteran certainly gets an A in my book.
Shane Battier: Just like Bosh and Chalmers, Battier had identical statistics in terms of points in all three games. Battier only scored three points each time and was not strong on the other end of the court either. I could not imagine him not wanting to retire with another ring but as of now, I just do not see the necessary effort: B-.
James Jones: Jones has been a non-factor during this series but I blame that on head coach Erik Spoelstra. Obviously Jones is not a starting lineup type of player, nor does he deserve to play more than someone like Cole, but I do think he is underestimated. When he gets going, Jones has the ability to drain some quick shots, so on his potential performance, I will award him a B.
Rashard Lewis: I know that most people laugh at the fact that Lewis is on the Heat, but not me. I was a fan of his during his time with the Orlando Magic, and for good reason. He has defensive chops, and used to put up big numbers between 2000-2011. He has a beautiful stroke and in terms of this series, helped close out Game 3. Like Jones, I think given the opportunity, he could bring a little something extra to the squad, so I leave him with a B.
Greg Oden: NA.
Toney Douglas: As long as I am laying all my cards out on the table, I did not even know that Douglas was in for even a second, let alone almost a minute in Game 1 and Game 3. Therefore, I would say grading him would be unfair. He too will be placed in the NA category.
Michael Beasley: NA.
Justin Hamilton: NA.
And there you have it. How do you feel about my grades? And what do you think they will look like when all is said and done in the Eastern Conference Finals?