clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fear the Report Card: Cavaliers Player Grades for the 2016 NBA Finals

The Cavaliers won the NBA Finals in historic fashion. How did each of their players do individually?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Championship behind a legendary performance from LeBron James and a somehow star-making performance from Kyrie Irving (seriously, most of us knew, but nobody else seemed to). That's not to say the rest of the team didn't contribute in a major way.

Let's take a look at how each player on the roster performed with some player grades. To be clear, I'll be grading players on the curve relative to their skillsets and roles on the team. LeBron will be graded much tougher than say, Mo Williams. Let's hope no player is afraid to show these to his parents.

LeBron James, A+

My school didn't hand out A-plusses. I don't know why, but I always kind of thought that was BS, but alas, here's my opportunity to change things. LeBron was unreal in these Finals, which you can read about in literally anywhere on the internet. I'm pretty sure C-SPAN's got a killer article about his legacy if you look hard enough.

James led the series in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and jumping higher than everyone else multiple times. He carried a city on his shoulders and his performances in Games 5 and 6 were master classes in basketball. He murdered the Warriors on switches, played them like a fiddle when they overcommitted to him and defensively showed a gear I thought was a couple years gone. He was unreal, man.

Kyrie Irving, A

Kyrie had his own insane moments in these Finals. He struggled early on with the Warriors switching scheme, but, as I mentioned in my Finals mini-recap, he was more than up to the challenge of attacking mismatches, and his insane shotmaking ability was the difference. He struggled from three for most of the season, but in Games 3-7, he was unreal. He shot just under 60% on wide open threes, per NBA.com, and managed to outplay the unanimous MVP for stretches of the series.

Oh, and he made this.

Tristan Thompson, A-

Holy Tristan, man. Anybody who thought he wasn't worth the contract he got this summer got an education during these Finals. Golden State didn't have anybody to keep Thompson off the boards, he finished at an insanely high rate and he is the perfect defensive big man in the modern NBA. He switched onto guards and wings and snuffed out any attempt at a drive without giving up too much room for a jumper and still was able to clean the defensive glass. He was comfortably the third-best player in the series for the Cavaliers.

Kevin Love, B-

This grade might seem too high or too low depending on your perspective, which is why I'm pretty comfortable with it here. Love shrunk away from the moment at times during this series, though lingering effects from a concussion suffered in Game 2 could have had something to do with it. He didn't shoot particularly well in this series, as the Warriors close out on shooters better than most, but he competed better on defense than most could have expected, and his lockdown D on Stephen Curry to ice Game 7 was something people won't soon forget. He came through when the Cavaliers needed him to, and that's all that matters.

JR Smith, B

It's the summer of J.R. Smith, man. Our shirtless hero struggled early on in the series, but it was often a function of the kind of offense the team was playing. He was functionally being faceguarded for much of the series, and it wasn't until the Cavaliers got more creative that he was able to shake loose. He played strong defense on Klay Thompson and when he was able to get a little airspace, he hit huge shots for the team in what was a true redemption tour.

Richard Jefferson, B+

I don't think any of us saw this coming for Richard Jefferson. He was the linchpin to helping figure out the Warriors smaller lineups, and his energy, finishing, and stunningly good rebounding keyed the series win. He showed an athletic gear I was fairly confident he didn't have anymore, and even though his three-point shooting abandoned him, I was always happy to see him on the floor, and the Cavs should be very glad he decided he wanted to play one more season.

Iman Shumpert, C-

Shumpert had his moments in these Finals, but for the most part, it was a struggle. He was adequate on-ball defensively, but miscommunicated on switches, tried to shoot the gap at times and just made mistakes on that end. He really struggled on the offensive end of the ball, and wasn't able to stay within his role. He didn't shoot well, turned the ball over, and was generally out of control, and it showed in the team's -13.4 net rating with him on the floor.

Matthew Dellavedova, D

Delly was just brutal during the Finals, unfortunately. The impending free agent may have lost himself some money after spending the whole playoffs struggling with his shot. It didn't improve in the championship round, and the Cavaliers net rating with Delly on the Floor was -59.5. That's, uh, pretty awful. He struggled to contain even journeyman Leandro Barbosa, and his lack of confidence in his jump shot infected the rest of his offensive game. This series was one to forget for him, but he probably will feel a lot better when someone offers him a hilariously huge contract this summer.

Channing Frye, C-

This series was always going to be a bad fit for Channing with the Warriors switching. He doesn't have a strong post game, and can't really put the ball on the floor either, so whenever the Cavaliers used him in an action, the Warriors would just switch defenders and there would be no advantage gained. As lights out and perfect as he was in the first three rounds, the Finals were just a tough spot for Mr. Frye.

Dahntay Jones, HM?

Who would have thought this guy could have produced like that when called upon in Game 6? The spot minutes he provided where he drew a foul, hit a tough layup and played good D were stunning for a guy who spent most of the season out of the league. That's the sort of magical play that champions get from time to time, and the fates smiled on Dahntay Jones for that stretch.

Mo Williams, B

Man, if you would have told me that Mo Williams was going to be playing in the Finals, I would have thought disaster had struck. Ty Lue mentioned that he had told Mo he would need him at some point in the season, and he was right. As Delly's play cratered, Williams stepped up and played solid (if limited) minutes in the role, and that's a big win for the Cavaliers.

Timofey Mozgov, C+

Timofey got some spot minutes in Game 3 with Kevin Love sidelined, and acquitted himself fine. He wasn't particularly effective, but he wasn't a disaster and given his spot in the rotation, it was hard to ask much of him. As Bill Bohl mentioned in FTS's shootaround, Mozgov was such a good teammate. I think it's easy to forget that these are real people out there, and if it were me that lost my spot in the rotation, I might be a little (a lot) whiny.

Instead, Mozzy was over-the-top excited for his teammates whenever they played well, and for being a better teammate than I would be, he gets a bump to his grade.. Once again, I'm very petty.

James Jones, B+

Our friend Champ barely played in the Finals, but as Kevin Love gushed on Instagram, he remained the best teammate in the NBA and supported the gang through some tough times as they fell behind 3-1. I'd like to spend a week with James Jones so I can learn how to become the most loved human in the world. There's got to be something I can learn.