Ranking Kobe Bryant and the 10 Best Closers in the NBA Today
“The Closer” is the most prestigious title given in basketball. Fans don’t seem to care if you drop 30 points in the first three quarters then fade away with the game on the line. Before this season, LeBron James was the punchline of jokes after he failed to have an impact late in finals games. There is nothing fans care about more than having the ability to finish a basketball game strong.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 closers in the game today.
10. Jason Terry
After being traded to from Atlanta to Dallas before the 2004-05 season, Jason Terry soon became one of the most feared players after 36 minutes.
9. Manu Ginobili
Tim Duncan has been the Spurs cornerstone for more than a decade, but Ginobili has been San Antonio’s fourth-quarter assassin for most of that era.
One of the greatest sixth men in the history of the league, no one knows better than Manu that it doesn’t matter who starts the game as much as it matters who finishes it.
8. Dwyane Wade
While Wade took a backseat to LeBron this season, he is still one of the best closers in the league. He is such a dynamic scorer that either he gets his points by shooting pull-ups or taking it to the rack and getting fouled.
Even though he’s only the second-best closer on the Heat, Wade would be the best on almost any other team in the league.
7. Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose hasn’t been in the league very long, but he’s already considered one of the best fourth-quarter players in the game. In his first playoff game as a rookie, Rose led the Bulls to a win over the Boston Celtics by dropping 36 points, 11 coming in the game’s final period.
It was no surprise that Rose became the youngest player ever to win MVP because everyone knows Rose is the most dependable when his team needs him.
6. Paul Pierce
With Rajon Rondo still unable to consistently hit a jump shot and Ray Allen becoming just another basketball player, Pierce is the guy the Celtics want with the ball in his hands and the game on the line.
Pierce made Kobe Bryant and LeBron James’ life miserable during the 2008 playoffs when he was unstoppable in the fourth quarter. That was four years ago, and he’s still as clutch as they come.
5. Carmelo Anthony
While Jeremy Lin took over the closer role when Melo went down, there is no question Anthony owns the fourth quarter in New York. Part of the reason is because a lot of late-game plays are isolations, and Melo is one of the best one-on-one scorers in the game.
Anthony showed how dangerous he can be with the game on the line, when he scored 11 points in the fourth quarter in the opening round against Miami to help snap a 13-game playoffs losing streak for the Knicks.
4. Dirk Nowitzki
Last postseason, Nowitzki was the last guy opponents wanted to see with the ball. Nowitzki put together one of the most impressive postseason runs in recent memory and hit clutch shot after clutch shot for the Dallas Mavericks on the way to his first title.
After being criticized early on his career for playing poor during the 2006 Finals, Nowitzki is now considered one of the best power forwards in history thanks to his fourth-quarter heroics.
3. LeBron James
You won’t be hearing any LeBron fourth-quarter jokes after this postseason. LeBron completely owned the finals after Game 1 and took home his first finals MVP. Due to his incredible passing ability, you can’t double-team LeBron because he will find the open teammate.
Whether it’s scoring or passing to open shooters, LBJ is almost impossible to cover when crunch time comes.
2. Kevin Durant
Durant showed in Game 4 versus San Antonio and Game 1 versus the Heat why he is an elite closer in the league. Durant scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to help tie the series against the Spurs and scored 17 points in the fourth a week later to give the Thunder their lone win in the Finals.
Durant is only 23 and could soon become the best closer in the game.
1. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant’s instincts in the fourth quarter are the reason many people compare him to Michael Jordan. “The Black Mamba” never shies away from the big moment, as he knows he is the most feared player on the planet.
Kobe has hit so many buzzer-beaters in his career that people should reconsider calling Mariano Rivera the greatest closer of all-time.