Kevin Durant

League GMs say Durant now more clutch than Kobe


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 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.

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
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The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

Kobe Bryant
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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.