It’s an annual question on the NBA general manager’s survey: Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line?
Kevin Durant won this year, getting 76.9 percent of the vote. Kobe Bryant used to own this, LeBron James has been on the list for years. Even GMs want the best players to take the biggest shots.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry should be on that list in the coming years, he’s cold blooded in the clutch. Just ask the Orlando Magic.
So when it was time for a game winning shot against New Orleans last week, Curry had the ball in his hands and… passed it to Draymond Green. Who passed again to Klay Thompson for a better shot. Which he missed, but the point is there was ball movement and a designed play. Over at ESPN Ethan Sherwood Strauss wrote a fantastic piece where he got Kerr to talk about why he didn’t just isolate his best player, why he didn’t succumb to the conventional wisdom of fans — and many GMs — who want their superstar to take the last shot.
“It’s because people are idiots, that’s why. The point of the game is to get an open shot and if a guy’s double-teamed he should pass it. That’s the game.”
Of course Kerr thinks that, his most famous moment as a player came when Michael Jordan drew the double team, kicked it to Kerr and he drained the shot to win an NBA Finals game.
But he’s also right. It’s just not always that easy to get stars to buy in. We’ve all seen Kobe willingly take fade-away, contested 28-footers, and he’s not alone. Guys become stars because they have a drive and want the ball in key minutes. It takes a special player who is willing to make the right basketball play in that situation. LeBron does (and used to get criticized for it). So does Curry, who described that last play this way.
“It’s making the right play. I didn’t want to rush. And I have 100 percent confidence in Draymond hitting that elbow jumper, if he were to take it. Or the play he made, to give it to Klay for his last-second shot. My job is to hopefully draw enough attention to make it easy on my teammates to make the plays.”
That is going to make Golden State that much harder to cover in crunch time.