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.