Basketball

Ira Winderman: Graded on a curve the Heat still came up short

It might come off as hyperbole to say that postseason-grades columns are dangerous ... but there was that time in a locker room in Atlanta when a midseason report card had Udonis Haslem issuing a warning not to come any closer (his agent at the time, in fact, hustled me back into the hallway).

Fortunately, no scars resulted from that encounter a decade ago, Haslem angered at the time with a grade of "C" for being an undersized big man (and, yes, he very much has grown on me, since).

Still, it is an exercise that often winds up being graded on a curve, with the grades not comparative between players, but rather based on individual expectations.

That said, aware of the inherent dangers, we move forward with a scorecard for the Miami Heat's 2018-19 season-ending roster. Again, all grades relative to expectations.

– Bam Adebayo: You can't ask for much more of a second-year player than making a quantum leap, which Adebayo did with his rise to starting-level contributor. He emerged as a playmaker on both ends of the court, with considerable upside. Grade: B+

– Ryan Anderson: This was never about the player, only the contract, which will excised by his July 10 deadline. Grade: None

– Goran Dragic: Injuries matter when you are 32, especially ones that rob more than half your season. He still was a key contributor when there, he just wasn't there enough. Almost an injury grade as much as anything. Grade: B

– Udonis Haslem: He was asked to solely be a leader. And he led. In other words, he fulfilled his mandate at the highest level. So, again, it is a grade based on expectation, of which there were none on a playing level. Grade: A

– James Johnson: Yes, the recovery from injury was slow and painful to the rotation. But that contract signed two years ago required far more in terms of contribution. A huge letdown. Grade: D

– Derrick Jones Jr.: This was the season when Jones truly became an NBA player. And yet, after what we witnessed during summer league, it was as if more was expected. Now more is expected. Grade: C

– Kendrick Nunn: Added on the final day of the season, it also is about what might come next. Grade: None

– Yante Maten: This is a grade based on a G League curve, with Maten doing everything that was asked in Sioux Falls before his ankle injury. The potential is there for an eventual move into the rotation. Grade: B

– Kelly Olynyk: Many of the best of times came when Olynyk was in the lineup. He too often gets lumped among the Heat's bad contracts. There were several difference-making moments over the course of the season. Grade: B

– Josh Richardson: It started so promising then fell off to so average. When you get held out of a potential Jimmy Butler trade, the expectations rise. More still is expected. Grade: B-

– Duncan Robinson: He does one thing very well, as his record-setting 3-point performances in the G League showed. But there has to be more a complete game on the NBA level, too often exposed defensively. Grade: D

– Dwyane Wade: There was initial skepticism from these quarters early about how it might play out. But, man, what a ride. Could he possibly have done better in his farewell season, especially from a leadership standpoint? Grade: A

– Dion Waiters: There were moments of hope from the 3-point line and even at the rim. But what a huge disappointment to show up for work in that condition. He owed more to his teammates, let alone to himself. Grade: F

Hassan Whiteside: Ultimately, this comes down to the relationship between Whiteside and Erik Spoelstra, which almost comes off as toxic. Yes, the effort and attention can lapse, but the punishments don't see to fit the crime. Grade: C

– Justise Winslow: The 3-point shot is real and often spectacular. And now there is a bona-fide playmaker as part of the multidimensional package. Grade: B+

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