Grading Every Star So Far From 2022 NBA Finals

With three games of the 2022 NBA Finals in the books, we now have a large enough sample size to start doling out grades for the household names populating the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors rosters.

Naturally, our red pens are out and reporting for duty.

Grades will be reflective of performances across the entire series through Game 3. They are not meant to be predictive; they’re reflective. A poor mark for Player X now doesn’t mean he won’t turn things around in the matchups to come.

“Star” classifications are in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you’re of the mind that Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the only viable candidates on either side. That’s fine. We’re going to broaden our scope to include those with longstanding track records of stardom, even if they’re not necessarily living up to the billing now.

 

Boston Celtics Honorable Mentions

Al Horford: B+

Following up a 26-point Game 1 with a two-point, four-shot Game 2 stripped Horford of some Finals luster, but he regained a large chunk of it in Game 3. He cooled off by the end of Wednesday night but still filled out the box score with a tidy 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block on 5-of-7 shooting.

Some will penalize him for staying in drop when switching onto Stephen Curry. I can’t get there. That’s clearly a schematic decision by the team, not a personal preference. And outside of the moments, Horford’s comprehensive impact stands. He has been Boston’s most mobile big man and its second-most-savviest passer, behind Jayson Tatum.

 

Marcus Smart: B+

Ever the offensive roller coaster, Smart is exceeding expectations on the more glamorous end. If you told the Celtics they’d get two hyper-efficient performances and one dud from him through the first three games before the series, they’d absolutely take it. Even with his Game 2 no-show, he’s still drilling 41.8 percent of his threes (7-of-17).

Smart’s defense, meanwhile, is its usual level of absolutely exhaustive. He remains ultra-physical and has made life harder for Stephen Curry than anyone else on the Celtics. His grade would be even higher if he didn’t throw so many listless passes straight into the arms of Warriors players.

 

Golden State Warriors Honorable Mentions

Jordan Poole: C-

Poole has jacked up his offensive efficiency since the latter half of Game 2, but he’s still far from the player Golden State needs him to be. His typically indiscriminate offensive usage suddenly seems reserved.

He went 4-of-8 from the floor in Game 3, including a couple of aggressive finishes around the rim, one of which saw him put Robert Williams III in a blender. But the Warriors need him to be even more aggressive during his minutes. Poole is new to the Finals and still just 22 years old. The Warriors can’t afford to care. If he’s more inclined to defer, they may be better off favoring Gary Payton II’s defensive skills (assuming he’s healthy).

Author: Lucy Green