Kevin Durant

League GMs say Durant now more clutch than Kobe

15 Comments

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.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

3 Comments

TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

8 Comments

TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

2 Comments

TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
1 Comment

TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: