Skip to content

Top 5 guys I want to take final shot in these playoffs

Apr 25, 2012, 7:05 PM EDT

Roy Hibbert, Chris Paul AP

I’m not a fan of trying to describe who is clutch in the NBA and who isn’t. Because defining clutch is impossible — any measure we put on it will miss the mark. We all kind of subscribe to the Justice Potter Steward “I know it when I see it” definition and even then we can’t agree — some of the guys with the best clutch shooting reputation miss a lot of shots at the end of games.

But this is the playoffs — when the NBA’s best face off against one another. Invariably, the games will come down to a final shot, a final possession. And there are guys you trust taking that shot. There just are. We say we want teams to “just run a play” in that situation, but as Rockets general manager Daryl Morey described recently it’s not that simple — with 8 seconds left if the play doesn’t work you can’t reset, you need a guy who can improvise and create for himself.

So, in the final seconds of a tight playoff game — who do I want taking control of and taking the final shot on my last possession? Here are my top five.

5. Kevin Durant (Thunder). He is one of the game’s great scorers, but he settles too much in the clutch — he’s taken 10 3-pointers (making two) in the final 30 seconds of a game when the Thunder were ahead or behind by two points this season, but he’s gotten to the free-throw line just eight times. He can create his own shot and is one of the great scorers in the game, but the Thunder can get too isolation heavy and the result is he is 7-for-21 in those final 30 seconds of a close game. He needs to attack more.

4. Kobe Bryant (Lakers). He’s on top of most lists, he’s the peoples’ champion. And no doubt he has and can hit big shots. But he misses more than he makes these days — in the final 30 seconds of a game where the Lakers are up or down two points or less, Kobe is 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) this season. But that is a little misleading — he also has gotten to the free-throw line 13 times (knocking down 11), a valuable and underrated skill. Also, he has two advantages. One, he can create his own look and if you send the double-team he can find the open guy (sometimes). Second, he is so, so confident — you want that, although it can lead to bad shots he is sure will fall.

3. Paul Millsap/Al Jefferson (Jazz). OK, it’s cheating to choose two guys, but the Jazz’s front line is a combined 11-of-23 in the final 30 seconds of a game when the Jazz are ahead or behind by two points this season, plus they have gotten to the free-throw line six times and hit all of them. Here is the big kicker — they have six offensive boards this season in that same small time set. With the game on the line, they are the best front line in the NBA and that is something I want in my corner.

2. Derrick Rose (Bulls). You have to send the double-team at him and he may still just make you look bad because he is that quick. He is shooting 5-of-9 in the final 30 seconds of a game where the Bulls are up or down two points this season, and he can get to the line. He doesn’t have any assists, but in the playoffs I don’t think he’d fear a kick-out to Kyle Korver or a dump-off to Carlos Boozer, even if both of those options make Bulls fans groan.

1. Chris Paul (Clippers). There is just nobody I trust to make the right play more — it may be attack and shoot, it may be find the open man, it may be draw the contact. Paul is 7-of-15 shooting and has gotten to the free-throw line 14 times in the final 30 seconds of a game where the Clippers are up or down two points or less. You can’t leave Blake Griffin or D’Andre Jordan alone on the baseline or on the roll after the pick because you know the lob will come if you do, but Paul is crafty and can get his shot or draw you into the foul. And make it all look effortless.

One shot, I want the ball in CP3’s hands.

Latest Posts
  1. Scottie Pippen: “I was LeBron James before LeBron James”

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Fire - Season 3 Getty Images

    Sorry Scottie, LeBron is just the better player.

  2. Report: DeAndre Jordan ’50-50′ in choosing between Mavericks and Clippers

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:03 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five Getty Images

    He’s reportedly seeking a shorter deal, too, which negates L.A.’s inherent advantage.

  3. Report: Lakers among four teams interested in Iman Shumpert

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Shumpert is a restricted free agent, so Cavaliers can match any offer he might receive.

  4. Luke Ridnour traded for the fourth time this summer

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    And he could be traded again before his contract becomes guaranteed on July 11.

  5. Report: Hawks ‘in the mix’ for Monta Ellis

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    Monta Ellis AP

    Hawks are facing a lot of uncertainty with their roster.

  6. Report: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker part of Spurs pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge (and they may be favorites)

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:01 AM EDT

    duncan-parker Getty Images

    The Spurs are right at the front of the line with the Lakers to win Aldridge over.

  7. Kyle Korver to have elbow surgery, no timetable for return

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Getty Images

    We knew Korver would need ankle surgery, but this is a bit of a surprise.

  8. Report: LaMarcus Aldridge ‘leaning toward’ signing with Lakers

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:45 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Aldridge is expected to leave Portland, and the most recent report has the Lakers as the frontrunners to retain his services.

  9. Report: Kobe Bryant called DeAndre Jordan to recruit him to Lakers

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    kobe

    Clippers remain frontrunners to retain Jordan’s services; Lakers, Mavericks also in the mix.

  10. Report: Pero Antic leaving NBA to play overseas

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    Pero Antic AP

    Antic was with the Hawks the last two seasons.

  11. Report: Chicago Bulls give Jimmy Butler max qualifying offer

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    The bottom line is this: Butler is going to be a Bull next season.

  12. Suns coach Hornacek tries to quell Bledsoe trade rumors

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT

    Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Hornacek, Goran Dragic

    The first rule of trading a player is to not look like you want to trade that player.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (4023)
  2. L. Aldridge (3980)
  3. J. Embiid (3630)
  4. L. James (3536)
  5. D. Cousins (3397)
  1. K. Love (3282)
  2. K. Bryant (2922)
  3. K. Durant (2422)
  4. N. Batum (2410)
  5. T. Harris (2393)