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League GMs say Durant now more clutch than Kobe

Oct 22, 2012, 7:31 PM EDT

Kevin Durant AP

There are 15 seconds left in the game, your team is down by one, and you can have anybody in the NBA take that shot. Who do you want?

For years now NBA general managers have said “Kobe” in their annual survey when asked what one player they would want taking a shot with the game on the line. But this time around the votes looked a little different:

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — 46.7%
2. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers — 40.0%
3. Carmelo Anthony, New York — 6.7%

The GMs are right.

Last year, in the final three minutes of a game with his team ahead or behind by three points, Kobe Bryant shot 32.8 percent overall and 33 percent from three. The stats are from the NBA’s own database.

Durant shot 43.3 percent. However, he should stay away from threes (30.4 percent). The two got to the free throw line almost the same amount (25 for Bryant, 22 for Durant, and they both shoot a high percentage).

You want to talk real last shot? Last 10 seconds, your team trailing by three or less, or tied? Kevin Durant was 5-of-12 (41.7 percent), Kobe 2-of-10 (20 percent).

If you spread the numbers out to the final five minutes of the game when their team is up or down five, the Durant and Kobe numbers are very close. But as things got tighter, Durant’s numbers stayed steadier.

Part of that is everybody on the planet with half a brain — so, let’s say everyone but the Real Housewives of New Jersey — knew Kobe was going to take the shot and overloaded the defense on him. Durant should get that treatment but James Harden and Russell Westbrook are bigger threats. This season in Los Angeles could be more interesting if Steve Nash gets room to make a play, or just with the threat of his shot. (Dwight Howard might not even be on the floor because of his free throw shooting.)

John Schuhmann of NBA.com did the first post on Durant passing Kobe in this category and using the +/-5 in the last five minutes standard adds this note:

If you go by true shooting percentage, the most clutch players over the last three years (minimum 100 FGA) have been Chauncey Billups (because he gets to the line so often), Jason Terry, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili and … get ready for it … LeBron James.

But ask the GMs around the league and Kevin Durant is now Mr. Clutch.

  1. ovi8lebron6 - Oct 22, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    I’m wondering what Skip Bayless has in mind about LeBron being in the top 5 regarding true shooting percentage in the clutch.

    • 00maltliquor - Oct 23, 2012 at 2:09 AM

      How could you be so dis-re-spectful!!??- Stephen A.

  2. cpcfan - Oct 22, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    CP3 had his share of 4th quarter antics last year and I’m surprised he’s not even mentioned in the convo?

    • camnellum12 - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      Exactly, and I don’t know why Kyrie Irving isn’t getting the most praise, because he was the most clutch player (statistically) last season, and he was clearly No.1. CP3 is also one of the better closers in the game (ask 76ers fans, they know), Kevin Durant is an assassin as well, but I’d take CP3 over KD, and yes, I’m expecting the dislikes…

  3. scalfor3 - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    I’d imagine Lebron is helped quite a bit in this category by his ability to get to the line

  4. patfic15 - Oct 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    I’ll take Durant over any age Kobe. Period.

    • 00maltliquor - Oct 23, 2012 at 2:11 AM

      How old are you son? 16?

  5. moseskkim - Oct 22, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    Id take Kobe all day. Both are scoring machines. Kobe is far more experienced. Crunch time is mostly mental. Kobe is a straight assassin and not afraid to miss. Durant isn’t there yet. I’d put cp3 (he’s a magician) over durant right now too.

    • Kurt Helin - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      I’d take CP3 over both. But if you don’t think Durant is cold blooded you’re not watching him much.

  6. cosanostra71 - Oct 22, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Even as a Lakers fan, I love watching KD play… the guy makes basketball looks so easy. Definitely my favorite player in the league right now. Too bad he plays for the Thunder!

    • scalfor3 - Oct 23, 2012 at 1:09 AM

      The way he makes it look easy is so sick to watch. Just a flick of the wrist, like it’s nothin’

  7. skids003 - Oct 23, 2012 at 3:08 PM

    I become a Durant fan watching him a couple years ago in the World Chamionships. Without him the USA couldn’t have won. He was clutch time after time. Great player.

    Kobe’s alltime stats show he isn’t as “clutch” as everyone thinks. All the talking heads ever mention are the ones he hits to win, not the 3 or 4 he misses to lose. Totally overrated.

  8. wonderbrizzle - Oct 23, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    @scalfor3 I don’t think it counts as an attempt if the player is fouled in the act of shooting, so going to the free throw line wouldn’t count towards Lebron’s percentage.

    • progress2011 - Oct 24, 2012 at 2:56 AM

      wonderbrizzle,

      A player would have had to attempt to do something, in order to make it to the free throw line. How does that not count as an attempt, in your reasoning ability ?

      Furthermore, the subject matter is ” who is more clutch”.

      If a player, forces a defense to foul him or he is going to make a high percentage shot, is the definition of “Clutch”.

      But then, if that player goes to the line and sinks the free throws to win or tie the game, is pretty clutch by any account also.

      I know that’s a lot to digest and I digress because with a handle like wonderbrizzle, you may be a little young, for me to be too abrasive.

  9. wonderbrizzle - Oct 24, 2012 at 5:22 AM

    Actually, it does not count as a shot attempt if the player misses the shot because of the assumption that the foul caused the miss. It’s in the rule book. If the player is fouled and makes the shot, then the attempt is counted, because you can’t really have an attempt to make ratio of 3 attempts and 5 makes now can you?

    I agree with you that if a player draws a foul and goes to the line and sinks the free throws in crunch time that that should be considered clutch. The reason I pointed out the fact that missed shot attempts on a foul are thrown out is because if they were counted, that would only hurt Lebron’s percentage, not help it. For example, lets say Lebron attempted 4 clutch shots but one was called a foul and he missed that one, but made the other three. If the play in which the foul was called was counted as an attempt, his ratio would be 3/4 – 75%. But the way the rule is now, it is not counted as an attempt unless he makes it, so his ratio is now 3/3 – 100%. I was trying to show that going to the line in the clutch, or being “bailed out” as the lebron haters would see it, does not help his percentage in those situations, it can only hurt it. Only thing that rule really helps is his points PER attempt ratio.

    Lastly, no, I am not young as you assume by my user name. I am actually 28. And you know what they say about assuming, and what it makes out of you and me…

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