NBA Finals Player Rankings – STUDS and DUDS

We present the Shoot or Pass Podcast’s version of NBA 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 NBA Finals Player Rankings with a segment called STUDS and DUDS. This time around, we are including players who are not currently contending for a ring, but continue to make headlines.

STUDS – THE LAKERS BENCH

I am personally picking the Lakers bench as my STUDS this week. Let’s start with the praise though, because somebody (Gabe) called them a bunch of “rag-tag” guys and they are proving to be the opposite.

It remains to be seen if their productivity will hold up throughout the rest of this NBA Finals series, however, they are complementing the play of LeBron and AD very well. They are averaging 41 points per game vs. the Miami HEAT’s zone defense and are scoring at an average of 44.9% from the field!

Guys like Rajon Rondo, Markieff Morris, and even Kyle Kuzma are coming in and knocking down shots as necessary. With Anthony Davis down low and LeBron James swinging the pass, all they have to do is make the open shot. So far, this Lakers bench is executing perfectly.

This is saying a lot about a Lakers bench that often looked pedestrian throughout the season and earlier in their playoff run. It was so bad, I was willing to volunteer myself to get out on the court and knock down shots for less than half their salaries! We’ve alluded to this before, but I will say it again, this team’s ability to flip a switch under the brightest lights is what makes them special. The Lakers supporting cast has certainly come ready to compete in these NBA Finals. Collectively, they are at the top of the NBA Finals Player Rankings.

DUD – DANNY GREEN

I have a friend who made a bet on Danny Green being the first guy to make a three-pointer in Game 1 of this NBA Finals series. It was a good bet to make, given his history. But what do you know? He catches the ball in the corner, throws a brick and of course, the ball rims out. Instead, Jae Crowder came down the other end and ended up making that first shot from beyond the arch. My poor friend.

Beyond the lackluster three-point shooting, his contributions after being inserted into the starting line-up for the Lakers have been abysmal. In an average of 22 minutes, Green is hitting a measly 5.3 points per game. His shooting percentages are getting progressively worse too, going 1-8 in Game 2 and 0-6 in Game 3. Those are bench numbers. In my opinion, it appears he is riding some coattails to get another ring like he did with the Toronto Raptors last season.

STUD – JIMMY “JAMES” BUTLER

I have to go with the easy answer – James Butler. You know, the better James in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Losing the first two games the way the HEAT did seems to have only fueled this guy more. He came out and said they were going to figure it out and WIN the championship, after the team went down 0-2!

Some players fall in big moments, but this Jim-er I mean, James Butler does not back down. He went out there, talked right back to LeBron and LED his team to a big victory. The proof is in the stat line: 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, which puts him among the likes of Jerry West and the other James in this series as the only players to hit a 40-point triple double in NBA Finals history.

Butler won’t even count this as the best game he’s ever played in. His best performance went down against a bunch of 45-year-olds in a pick-up game at the age of 17. Needless to say, LeBron, you’re in trouble.

DUD – LEBRON JAMES

Even though he played well, I am picking LeBron James as my DUD. Before I have the entire internet jumping down my throat, let me point out that he failed to beat a HEAT team led by James Butler and a bunch of Junior Varsity guys!

I understand that Anthony Davis was essentially taken out of the game. However, LeBron knows that he can outperform any guy on the court. And yet, he loses to Solomon Hill (who shoots threes apparently), Andre Iguodala, who is a shell of the player he used to be with Golden State, and smaller rookies like Tyler Herro.

What is happening to the superstar that used to easily take over games and dominate in clutch moments? There was one point in the 4th quarter of Game 3 where “The King” hit an and-1 and I thought to myself, “This is it. The Miami HEAT are going to go down 0-3 in this series. They are done.” Instead, James is seen traveling and carelessly throwing the ball away down the stretch. He was talking some smack and ended up getting PUNKED by James Butler. It was his moment to lead, and he was found walking away from the spotlight. Literally.

STUD – MIAMI HEAT COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA

Indeed, Jimmy Butler is the easy pick for the STUD of the week, but no one has a tougher task at hand than Coach Spo in this NBA Finals series.

Put yourself in his shoes.

Game 1 you watch your 3 best players (Butler, Adebayo, Dragic) go down, with two of them unable to return for the foreseeable future. Your team is undersized, over-matched, and getting OBLITERATED to start. The media is coming to you with comments about people thinking this series is over. They are claiming your team will not be able to overcome the circumstances. Know what Coach Spo does? Finds a way to keep his team competitive and finds a way to win a game against all odds!

I recall seeing a GIF where Jimmy Butler’s head was photo-shopped onto Jon Snow’s body in that one scene during the Battle of the Bastards episode (Game of Thrones fans will know what I am talking about). Everyone is running toward him and he courageously stands alone and promptly pulls his sword out, ready to fight. No disrespectful to the STUD James, but I believe Spo’s head should be the one on Jon Snow’s body on that GIF instead. He is the true superstar for the Miami HEAT in this NBA Finals series.

DUD – KYRIE IRVING

My DUD pick goes to one of the leading men in the upcoming tragic telenovela that will be the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving.

The man has made the media rounds this week and boy, are these headlines alarming. First, he says that he doesn’t see the Nets having a head coach. Quite the wonderful welcome for your brand new first-time head coach, Steve Nash isn’t it, Nets fans?

Soon after, Irving joins teammate Kevin Durant as the first guest on the latter’s new podcast “The ETC’s”. In this episode, Kyrie talks about how exciting it will be to play alongside Durant, as it will be the first time he will have a teammate equally capable of making the final shot in a big game.

Evidently, his selective memory fails to remind him that:

1) The Brooklyn Nets do have a head coach.

2) He spent years playing alongside one of the greatest to ever play the game in LeBron James.

The jabs at his former teammate were so blatant that he found himself having to recant his comments on an Instagram Live. Does he not realize that there is power in shutting up and letting his game do the talking?

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

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