Kevin Durant: A. Strange but true. Durant's numbers this season were down, virtually across the board. Scoring from 30.1 to 27.7. Rebounding from 7.6 to 6.8. Assists from 2.8 to 2.7. Blocked shots from 1.02 to 0.97. Steals from 1.4 to 1.1. Field-goal percentage from .476 to .462. Three-point percentage from .365 to .350. Foul shooting from .900 to .880. So why the high grade? Durant's leadership was exemplary, from accepting responsibility for critical defeats to accepting Westbrook as a fellow star.
Russell Westbrook: A. OK, so he shoots too much and commits too many turnovers. Yes, more Thunder possessions end with Westbrook (shooting or turnovers) than with Durant. Agreed, his decision-making needs work. You know what all those deficiencies mean? The rest of the league is scared to death. A guy who in four years has gone from UCLA backup to second-team all-NBA with Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki can still get not only better, but a lot better? By the way, Westbrook this season shot two percentage points worse than Durant from the field and from 3-point range. Not 10. Two.
Finishing games: B. I know, playoff losses magnified the problem. But do you realize the Thunder was one of the NBA's best teams in recent years in close games? The Thunder went 8-2 in overtimes, and that includes the regular-season finale loss to Milwaukee, when Brooks played his C team down the stretch. In games decided by three points or less, the Thunder was 14-7. In games decided by six points or less, the Thunder 23-14. The playoffs spotlighted the lack of late-game offensive execution. In the playoffs, the Thunder was 1-2 in overtime games, 3-3 in games decided by three points or less and 5-5 in games decided by six point or less.
Kendrick Perkins trade: A. Some have questioned the value of the deal. Interesting. The Thunder needed a defensive interior upgrade and got the best post defender in the league, at the cost of versatile forward Jeff Green and jump-shooting center Nenad Krstic. The Thunder offense remained virtually the same after the trade, but the Thunder defense improved dramatically, almost four points a game. In the playoffs, Perkins' presence helped hold Nene Hilario, the NBA leader in field-goal percentage, to 47.8 percent shooting (down from 61.5 in the regular season), then helped hold Memphis center Marc Gasol to sub-.500 shooting (40 of 81) in that seven-game series. And Perkins wasn't even close to 100 percent health. Best of all, the trade allowed Serge Ibaka and James Harden to blossom into new and more important roles. Good trade. Hard to imagine a better one.
Draft: C. Cole Aldrich came to OKC at the cost of two No. 20-something draft picks. Aldrich didn't play much and didn't show a whole lot when he did. But the new makeup of this team is perfect for Aldrich to settle in as the No. 4 big man in the rotation, should Nazr Mohammed not be re-signed. Aldrich at least gives the Thunder an option. Second-round picks Tibor Pleiss (Europe) and Latavious Williams (D-League) did not play in the NBA this season.
Player development: A. Young players are supposed to improve. But improve like this? Westbrook from solid to superstar. Harden from role player to cornerstone. Ibaka from cool story to Bill Russell (OK, a little exaggeration). But it wasn't just the pups who improved. Nick Collison went from handy to indispensable. Daequan Cook went from non-factor to major contributor. Someone or someones on Scotty Brooks' staff is doing a bang-up job.
Team coaching: C. The Thunder won five more games than a season ago and then won two playoff series. But two major concerns arose that are the coaching staff's responsibility. The Thunder's defense took a step back until the Perkins trade. The Thunder obviously missed Ron Adams, the defensive coordinator who last offseason returned to the Bulls' staff (and worked wonders there). And the Thunder's season-long problem of execution in a half-court offense really glared in the playoffs. Those fallacies are on Brooks and his coaches.
Defending home court: B. The Thunder tied for the fifth-best home record in the regular season, 30-11, then went 6-3 in the playoffs. But the Thunder had trouble at home against the elite teams. Against Chicago, Miami, Boston, Orlando, Dallas, San Antonio and the Lakers, the Thunder was 2-6. Still, 30-11 is the same home record as the Heat, Lakers, Blazers and Grizzlies. Only Chicago (36-5), San Antonio (36-5), Boston (33-11) and Denver (33-11) had a better home record.
Road toughness: A. The Thunder also tied for the fifth-best road record in the NBA, 25-16, then went 3-5 in the playoffs. Against those same elite teams, the Thunder was 4-5 on the road.
Defensive stoppers: C. Thabo Sefolosha and Perkins did not play as well as their colleagues. Perkins gave himself a D for his on-court play after the trade. Everyone, including Celtic general manager Danny Ainge, admits Perk was not healthy. But everyone expects Perk to return to his previous status as an elite defender; remember, Boston fans went into mourning when Perkins was traded. Was Sefolosha hurt, too? Sefolosha said he was about 70 percent for the playoffs, and his defense throughout the season was less oppressive than it was a year ago. If Thabo isn't defending at a high level, his value is small.
Bench rotation: A. According to 82games.com, the winningest Thunder lineup, in terms of score and minutes, was Brooks' small-ball unit of Westbrook, Harden, Sefolosha, Durant and Ibaka. But they played together only 76.5 minutes. The next-best fivesome was Eric Maynor, Cook, Harden, Collison and Mohammed, who after the February trades played 119.3 minutes together. Remarkable. Brooks found a total-bench unit that not only gave his starters much-needed rest, but a nightly spark for the team. And while everyone's favorite lineup — Westbrook, Durant, Harden, Ibaka and Collison — was effective, it was not as effective as Brooks' starting lineup of Westbrook, Durant, Sefolosha, Ibaka and Perkins. Generally speaking, Brooks knew what he was doing on substitutions.
Conduct: B. Another season, another blank police blotter. What is Sam Presti running over there on Lincoln Boulevard, a basketball team or a monastery? The late-season technical fouls, though, are a concern. Westbrook and Perkins would have been baited by the Mavericks had the Western Conference Finals gone longer; both were in danger of a one-game suspension over technical fouls.