D Wade, Melo, & CP3: Grading Jordan Brands Big Three

With the book closing on the 2011-2012 NBA season as of tonight it’s time for a little bit of reflection, particularly focusing on Jordan Brand’s Big Three, the flag-bearers of all things Jumpman across the league. At the onset there is no doubt that they’re among the NBA’s elite, with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade all playing the part of leaders and taking their respective squads to the playoffs. It can never be all positives though, with any given player or team bound to face challenges and setbacks throughout the season. We’re taking a quick look at the good and the bad, the defining stats and moments for each of Jordan Brand’s Big Three and grading them based on their overall performance and growth throughout the season. There’s no doubt that all three will be on their A+ game come Saturday, but check out our season review and grades for each of the Jordan Brand Big Three and let us know if you agree/disagree with out assessments.

Carmelo Anthony: This season was marked as Melo’s homecoming to New York, when the prodigal sun born in Brooklyn and honed in Syracuse would return to the Big Apple after all those years out in Denver. His short stint with the team during the latter part of the previous season showed some promise, but as the lockout ended at the tail end of 2012 and the season got started something seemed amiss. That something came to a head this year as he sat out with an injury and clashed with the style Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni, indirectly leading to D’Antoni’s departure from the program and Mike Woodson stepping up to fill his role. And just like that Melo was back on track, with an attitude change apparent and a new dedication manifesting itself in his stats. April in particular saw Anthony rise to MVP-levels of play, scoring nonstop and locking down a second career triple-double – simply put, nobody could check the guy. And now with the post-season looming, thanks in large part to Anthony’s efforts, the Knicks will be entering the Playoffs as a tough First-Round opponent. Shaky start, incredibly strong finish – perhaps the best ball of his career.

Grade: B+/A-

Chris Paul: Another of Jordan Brand’s Big Three to be relocated for the just completed season, Chris Paul brought his handles and speed out to the LA Clippers, bumping them up from a team that didn’t make it the post season last year to one that now sits just a few games behind the Lakers across town. Even more than that, he brought a tangible energy to the Clippers franchise, teaming up with Blake Griffin to dominate highlight reels week in and week in so-called ‘Lob City’. Among Jordan Brand’s Big Three he was the mark of consistency throughout his season, putting together a bounce-back season devoid of any injuries that has him now looking like a legitimate MVP candidate. At this point pretty much the only thing he’s gotta do to polish up that resume is prove himself down the stretch and bring another chip to the city of Los Angeles.

Grade: A-

Dwyane Wade: On paper it seems that Dwyane Wade should have all these guys beat; he’s proven his dominance time and time again, has a ring to show for it, and is linked up with an the NBA team undoubtedly packing more star power than any other. And what does all that translate to? Well, for one, a handful of stats for this last season that is some of the lowest of his career: a points per game and assists per game low second only to his rookie season as well as a 3-point percentage showing a sharp downturn compared the past couple of years. What’s more the Heat have shown that they can win without him, with a 14-2 Wade-less record through this Tuesday. Of course this all might just be an asterisk to some, as there is ultimately no doubt that he is among the game’s top players and will turn it up a few notches once he gets to the Playoffs. With that being said, the last four months have seen him dip just below the levels of expectation set by his usual excellence – but we fully expect Wade to bring his Championship level of play when it counts.

Grade: B/B+

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