Southwest Division Player Grades: Who Gets an "A"?

San Antonio 33 11 .750 18-2 15-9 9-2 18-8 104.0 95.8 +8.2 Won 5 7-3
Memphis 26 14 .650 5 15-6 11-8 4-4 15-10 92.9 89.4 +3.5 Lost 1 6-4
Houston 22 21 .512 10 ½ 14-7 8-14 3-7 7-16 104.4 103.2 +1.2 Won 1 3-7
Dallas 18 24 .429 14 11-8 7-16 3-4 9-15 100.2 102.9 -2.8 Won 1 5-5
New Orleans 14 27 .341 17 ½ 7-14 7-13 3-5 7-17 93.3 97.0 -3.7 Won 1 7-3
This division has seen some of the most up and down play of any division in the league.  We have seen some indivduals have break out seasons while others have faltered and let fans down.  let’s break down the players of the southwest division for the first half of the season.

San Antonio Spurs:
Tony Parker: A
The MVP candidate has only gotten better with age as he leads the Spurs in Points, Assists, and Minutes.  He leads all NBA point guards in shooting percentage and has the offense clicking as one of the premiere offensive clubs in the league.  You can’t leave him open as he will drain any open shot, and you can’t crowd him or he will blow by you to use that silky smooth floater of his.  So far this season, he has been nearly unguardable.
Tim Duncan: A
Duncan has slipped back in time to 2005-2006 with his campaign this season.  He has not only showed his gift for low post scoring, but his defense has reached a level not seen in over a half of a decade.  He is averaging 2.74 blocks per game, to go along with 17.5 points and nearly 10 boards.  Duncan is still a dominant force.
Danny Green: B
Green does exactly what he is supposed to do when is on the floor.  He knocks down open threes, shooting almost 40% from long distance and plays very good defense on opposing two guards.  A great piece for this team as they make another run for a Larry O’Brien trophy.
Tiago Splitter: B+
Tiago is a highly efficient scorer and a handful as a defensive player.  He is massive and athletic, creating a sort of “twin tower” dynamic with Tim Duncan that allows them to control the interior.  He has also shown significant improvement in his free throw shooting which is up to 74%.
Kawhi Leonard: B
Leonard has had some trouble staying healthy, but this long rangy defensive minded second year player is no slouch.  He is a dominant defensive player one on one and he has shows improvement in his shooting abilities.  He combines his elite athleticism with a shooting percentage near 50%.  As the season goes on, I only see him putting up even better numbers.
Bench: A
Well, when you have Gino and Gary Neal on your bench you know you can score the ball with the second unit. No only them though, Boris Diaw, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Nando De Colo, and Stephen Jackson are all good players. The depth makes this team one of the best in the NBA.  I wouldn’t want to face them in a seven game series.
Memphis Grizzlies:
Mike Conley:B-
He is also a solid defensive player, but his lack of shooting ability combined with low assist numbers really hurts his overall grade.  Anytime a player shoots below 42%, I start to question their shot selection.  He has to hit his jumpers for this team to make a serious run,
Rudy Gay: C
He is shooting only 41% from the floor, including 30% from downtown and shooting a lot of shots per game.  Sure, this isn’t a great offensive team so you expect him to play a little ‘hero” ball but I’m just not impressed with what I’m seeing so far. He does play good defense and is a solid rebounder, saving him from an abysmal grade.  Now that we believe he will be with the team the remainder of this season, dos he turn it around?
Tony Allen: B+
Allen continues to be one of the best defenders in the league as he will surely be selected for a first team all defense again this season.  He is a poor shooter however, which keeps him from the A range, but let it be known, he has a quality impact whenever he is out on the court.  Although they lost to Indi the other night, he was the only reason they were even in that game to begin with.
Zach Randolph: A-
Randolph may not be an elite defensive player, but that’s really his only downfall.  He is a monster on both the offensive and defensive glass as well as being an excellent low post scoring option.  He is a double double machine and has played as well as anyone on this team.
Marc Gasol: B
I love Gasol’s game, but right now he is not scoring as efficiently as i expect him to as he is shooting under 49%.  He plays excellent interior defense and has the ability to dominate offensively as a creator for his teammates or as a scorer.  
Bench: ummm…D?
Well I guess I like Dorrell Arthur and if they sign Delonte West I’d like that move.  Tony Wrotten Jr will now get an opportunity to shine, let’s see if the young kid can handle the big time. Otherwise, this bench is horrendous.
Houston Rockets:
Jeremy Lin: C-
This is probably the lowest grade Lin has ever received, as the Harvard grad has really struggled to find his shooting stroke this season.  We all see the skill there, so I’m sure he will put it together at some point.
James Harden: A
He has turned into an all-world scorer, pouring in 26 a night which includes an NBA leading 10.1 free throw attempts per game.  He needs work defensively, but he is one of the two or three best pure scorers in basketball.
Chandler Parsons: B+
He has had some inconsistencies this season, but Parsons has blossomed as a player.  Second on the team at scoring at a little over 14 a game, he has shown the ability to score from anywhere on the court.  He thrives in the uptempo game that Coach McHale has implemented and should continue to put up stellar numbers.
Omer Asik: A-
What a great signing this has turned out to be.  Asik, a double double machine, is just a beast.  You gotta love his energy, work ethic, and blue collar type approach to the game.  Now if only he could shoot free thows…..
Patrick Patterson: B
Patterson has shown great improvement as he can knock down open jumpers and finish at the rim.  Think of him as a rich man’s Brandon Bass.
Bench: B-
I really like this unit, but they are young and often mistake prone.  They have a ton of talent though in Marcus Morris, Delfino, and Toney Douglas among others.  They need work defensively, but offensively they can score.
Dallas Mavericks:
Darren Collison: B
3rd in the NBA in shooting percentage by a guard, the only thing holding Collison back from a better grade is his inconsistently to come out and do it every night.  He can score from anywhere and is definitely more comfortable in a scoring role rather than a distributing role.  13 points and 5 assists a game are solid numbers though all in all.
OJ Mayo: A-
He carried this team offensively when Dirk was injured and has absolutely lit up the league from downtown shooting almost 43% from there despite a recent shooting slump.  You really couldn’t ask for much from the gifted scorer.
Shawn Marion: B
Leads the team in rebounds at over 8 a game, the Matrix still has some game left in the tank.  He comes out every night and provides energy despite his inconsistent offensive performances.  All I can say is that he would have a spot on my team any day.
Dirk Nowitski: Incomplete
We just haven’t seen enough from him yet to grade him, but I really like his recent progress.  Dirk is an amazing player and an all-time great so expect an A performance the second half once he is healthy.
Chris Kaman: B-
Kaman has been steady as the starting center spot. The man can score in a variety of ways and is an ok rebounder.  His height will be key to a hopeful second half run by this veteran group.
Bench: C
I really like what Vince Carter has done this season despie his poor shooting because he is really the only offensive weapon on the pine.  I’m just not impressed with this unit.
New Orleans Hornets:
Grevious Vasquez: B+
Dammit, well he continues to play well despite me hating on his game since college. He is 3rd in the NBA in assists at 9.2 a game and has shown an ability to score in the paint.  He is not a great shooter, but he is putting together a very good season.  He is also a terrific rebounder for his position thanks to his size and ball hawking abilities. 
Eric Gordon: Incomplete
Gordon is another all-star caliber player just returing from injury.  He has a history of being an inefficient but prolific scorer.  I can’t wait to see him and Anthony Davis run that pick and roll in the second half of the season.
Al-Farouq Aminu: B+
Whoa, a B+ for Aminu you may say to yourself, but Aminu is a world class rebounder at the small forward position, is a good defensive player with his amazing length, and takes mostly good shots.  I really like his game and he is finally showing the promise of the high pick that he was.
Anthony Davis: B
Davis has gone through rookie woes at time, but clearly will be an elite player if he stays healthy.  He is averaging 13 points on 52% shooting and 8 boards.  He hasn’t dominated many games yet unfortunately, but that will come in time.  WATCH OUT FOR A MONSTER SECOND HALF that may propel him ahead of front runner Lillard for the ROY award.
Robin Lopez: B-
Can’t ask for much more from this guy.  He hustles like a mad man every night, but just isn’t an elite player at anything. 11 points and 5.5 boards is serviceable, but I’d like to see a couple more rebounds a game from him.
Bench: B-
How can you not love Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith? These guys play there respective games really well and show great hustle. If Austin Rivers would play like an NBA player on a regular basis then this group may get an A-.  I know they aren’t the best bench, but i like their make-up a lot. The biggest weakness is a backup Center, which they don’t really have despite Jason Smith doing his best to change from a PF to a C.


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