If you watch enough NBA basketball, you’ve seen it a million times.
With only a couple of seconds remaining on the clock, a player will receive an inbound pass, take a dribble or two, and launch a shot from beyond halfcourt just after time in the period expires and the final buzzer sounds.
In most cases, it’s not an accident.
Players who handle the ball in the majority of those situations often times make sure to wait until the low-percentage shot doesn’t count before launching it, because over the course of an 82-game season, those misses add up to the point where they can legitimately and adversely affect a player’s field goal percentage and three-point shooting numbers.
Kevin Durant is obviously a candidate for these types of shots, being the league’s leading scorer for the past three seasons and the Thunder’s best individual player. He admitted that he thinks about it before taking those halfcourt heaves, and will only do so if he’s having a good statistical night shooting.
How do Thunder players feel about the halfcourt heave? Should it be counted as an attempt? And do they pull the just-after-the-buzzer move? I asked some of them:
Kevin Durant: “It depends on what I’m shooting from the field. First quarter if I’m 4-for-4, I let it go. Third quarter if I’m like 10-for-16, or 10-for-17, I might let it go. But if I’m like 8-for-19, I’m going to go ahead and dribble one more second and let that buzzer go off and then throw it up there. So it depends on how the game’s going.”
We think of lower-tier players being more likely to pull this trick, especially ones who may be in a contract year where their statistics at the end of the season will, at least in part, directly translate into the amount of future dollars that will go into in their pocket.
Durant’s response was honest and refreshing, but if the game was on the line there’s no doubt at all that he’d hoist it the length of the court if it would give his team a chance to tie or win in the final seconds.
The response from Durant’s All-Star teammate, Russell Westbrook, was far more hilarious when asked if he hesitates in those situations.
“No. Nope … If I was considering about [statistics] I’d do a lot of s–t different,” he said.