One thing we fans love in the playoffs are clutch players who make big shots to win games for their teams. The 2012 NBA playoffs will have plenty of those players to watch, and it is time to rank them.
While there are many veteran clutch players that will be leading playoff teams this year, like Kobe Bryant, there is at least one younger guy who has shown that he is ready to step up and perform that role for his team.
Here are the five best playoff stars in crunch time.
Carmelo Anthony is well-known for his scoring ability, but he doesn't get the credit he deserves for his clutch play. The former Syracuse star has done very well at hitting big shots during his time in the league.
Now that the entire offense is running through him under head coach Mike Woodson, Anthony will have more opportunities than ever to make big shots at the end of games. The ability of guys like J.R. Smith and Steve Novak to spread the floor will help even more.
It might be a surprise to see Tony Parker's name on this list instead of Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili. While those two may have been the more heralded names in the past, this season has been all about Parker.
The point guard has averaged 18.3 points and 7.7 assists per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. Those numbers have put him in MVP conversations, and for good reason.
It will be Parker who gets the San Antonio Spurs to the promised land. Don't forget, he was the NBA Finals MVP during the Spurs' 2007 championship run.
Dwyane Wade has been one of the best players in the NBA practically ever since the Miami Heat drafted him in 2003, and that hasn't changed this postseason. He's also been a force during the playoffs, making huge shots for his team.
He'll have to be that guy again if Miami is going to win the title that we all believe they should. LeBron James might just win the MVP, and Chris Bosh is a very good player, but neither of them can lead this team to a title. Only Wade can.
Many may say that Kevin Durant is too young and hasn't proved enough to be this high—or even on this list at all. They might have a point.
However, it comes down to which players really make shots when it counts. Durant does that. When the Oklahoma City Thunder really, really need to score a basket, Durant is always the one who takes the shot, even though he has a fellow All-Star in Russell Westbrook.
Durant has hit big-time game-winners many times already during his career, and during the postseason last year, he had monster games to close out both Denver and Memphis. He may have more to prove, but he's provided every indication that he'll continue to prove more and more.
Could anyone else be here? Kobe Bryant has the most clutch reputation of any NBA player since Michael Jordan retired. The guy has five rings, so it isn’t too hard to figure out why.
Bryant is getting older, but he has proved he can still hit the big jumpers that the Lakers need to pull them through a close game. He proved it once again on Sunday against Oklahoma City, when he hit multiple shots to stay close or pull ahead in the fourth quarter and two overtimes.
This shooting guard still has plenty left, and he’ll be the best guy to watch in the clutch come playoff time.