Conference Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS

We present the Shoot or Pass Podcast’s version of Conference Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS!

A new episode of the Shoot or Pass Podcast is out now! Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby share their version of the Conference Finals Player Rankings with a segment called STUDS and DUDS.


Guess what? I am picking another Laker as my STUD pick of the week.

You know that you are out there COOKING on the court when your bench is screaming “Steak Dinner” at the guy trying to defend you. That is exactly what happened on Friday night when Michael Porter Jr. was trying to guard The Brow. Michael Porter Jr.’s response to the taunting? Immediately switching off the guy.

Anthony Davis is UN-GUARDABLE versus the Denver Nuggets (Games 1 & 2). Here are his stat lines:

Granted, he started a little slow in the first half of Game 2, scoring only 9 points. However, he exploded in the second half with 22 points and scored the Lakers last 10 points (including that 3-point dagger) to end the game. Let’s dig a little deeper into that last shot, for the Lakers had a couple of opportunities to seal the victory. In the first possession, we saw LeBron James dribbling the ball around, approach the basket, and then pass the ball. Caruso took the three…and missed.

During that play, I am sitting on the edge of my seat thinking to myself – why didn’t AD get the ball for the final shot there? He is the guy who needs to have the ball in his hands for this second opportunity, right? (Note: Ball went out of bounds, giving the Lakers a couple of seconds and another possession). Sure enough, the ball lands in The Brow’s hands and BOOM! In goes the big game-winning three!

Honestly, I feel like right now, AD is Batman & Lebron is more of a Robin in these playoffs for the Lakers. He is the top performer in my NBA Conference Finals Player Rankings. WHAT A STUD!


This pick hurts. But, the key to a healthy relationship between biased podcast co-hosts and their favorite teams is acknowledging when one of their favorite players is performing like a DUD. Kendrick Nunn, I love you, but you are my DUD pick of the week.

Nunn lost the starting job to Dragic, and in the 8 games he’s played in throughout these playoffs he is averaging 3.6 points, shooting 30% from the field, and 15% from 3. He doesn’t play good defense. The man is unable to stop his own man without giving up a dumb foul like he did in Game 3 of the ECF.

I know there is the COVID storyline going around, but Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro had tested positive for it and are balling out. Needless to say, Kendrick Nunn is hurting the HEAT more than helping them throughout their playoff run.


I am also going with a Laker, and this man is getting picked for the 2nd week in a row. That’s right, my STUD pick of the week is the phenom – PLAYOFF RONDO!

Rondo gives the Lakers another play-maker they really need for success in the playoffs. Before he was healthy, they were using Alex Caruso and other guys coming off the bench. The problem with that is, none of these guys were capable enough to step in whenever LeBron goes to the bench for a rest.

Rondo in playoff form is the BEST Rondo you can get. His presence on the floor, his ability to get guys the ball, and those play-making abilities are critical to this team. This elevates him above the competition. That is why he is my STUD, the top performer in the NBA Conference Finals Player Rankings in my eyes.


I hate to do this, but I am also picking a HEAT player as my DUD. Duncan Robinson. I’m sorry, but STOP FOULING SO MUCH! He is the reason some of our guys are getting fatigued. They have to leave the bench, coming in earlier to play more minutes because he can’t keep his damn hands to himself.

Robinson is giving up too many fouls, and too many 3-point shots. He needs to settle down! I understand that he is only in his second year – he might just be full of nerves. Perhaps, the Celtics are too intimidating for him. Regardless, this guy cannot be on the court for more than five minutes without picking up a foul!

It appears that Jaylen Brown is guarding him a lot in this Eastern Conference Finals series and we can guess who is winning that battle in the trenches. Brown had the monster performance in Game 3. However, Duncan has an opportunity here to tire him out. Make the guy run around the court. That can make all the difference, but he needs to stay on the court to try it out.


I am going to make you guys happy with my pick, for it is a HEAT player again. That’s right, my STUD pick of the week is Tyler Herro.

In the Eastern Conference Finals series, he is scoring 15 points per game combined with a solid eight rebounds and six assists per game, shooting 42% from the field. FYI, the rookie had a 16-point, 2nd quarter performance too! This is the second most points scored in a quarter during a playoff game by a player at age 20 or younger.

Since play-by-play began in 1997, the only player with more points scored in a quarter in the playoffs is Kobe Bryant. He had 17 points in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz on May 8th, 1997. Tyler Herro wasn’t even born yet!

You wouldn’t know Tyler Herro is a rookie because he plays like a veteran. This make me wonder, how would he be performing under different circumstances? By this I mean, in actual home and road games, in arenas full of fans. This is not to discredit his incredible performances. The guy is a stone cold killer on the court. However, without a crowd, it is definitely easier to lock in and just play your game.

I’ll leave it at that and say that I hope he continues to progress and contribute in these games against the Celtics.


My DUD pick goes to the voters of the NBA Awards, especially the one who forgot to put Anthony Davis on her ballot (cough, Maria Taylor, cough). How do you leave a Defensive Play of the Year candidate off of the All-NBA rosters on your ballot?

Does the voting process need some fine-tuning? Yeah, but the voters need to take some accountability and put more attention into their choices as well.

For more NBA content, listen to the Shoot or Pass podcast. New episodes drop every Monday!

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