Going back to a popular article on 82games.com that discussed game-winning shots and each player’s respective field goal percentage in crunch time: Numbers don’t lie, and I won’t deny the fact that Kobe Bryant has missed more potential game-winners than anyone, as he’s taken plenty yet made only around 25 percent in the regular season. His Playoff numbers are a different story.
Here, I will try to explain why players like Travis Outlaw and Roger Mason Jr. have such high percentages in the clutch.
On a team like Portland, everyone is going to guard Brandon Roy as the No.1 defensive priority. As the clock winds down, he is more likely to attract a double- or triple-team in which case he’ll be swinging the ball to whoever is left open, and that could often be Outlaw.
Keep in mind that this passing of the ball doesn’t even guarantee the assist will go to Roy (or whichever superstar it may be) and such loose rules for the tracking of dimes are left for hockey.
But back to the point. The situation in San Antonio is similar. Ginobili, Parker and Duncan attract all the attention (and rightfully so), but that leaves Mason in a position to be open to get a good shot off.
As for those aforementioned Lakers, this is why Derek Fisher is so dangerous. He is often left camping behind the arc while Kobe attracts two or more players. If for whatever reason a reminder is needed, take a look at the infamous 0.4-second play at San Antonio in the ‘04 Playoffs, in which Kobe drew all the defenders off the top screen, leaving Fisher wide open for the short range jumper.
It was the same for big shots by Steve Kerr (the pass coming from Jordan) and all of Big Shot Rob’s long-range bombs.
In all of these cases, these clutch shots were made by non-superstars who have the luxury of having an extra second to release before the defense can rotate and close out effectively. Also take note of the superior talent and skill levels the superstars have that they are still able to score in crunch time and help lead their teams to victory despite the attention they draw.
With the percentages the way they are, it makes you wonder why the stars don’t pass the ball more. Then again, is anyone actually thinking about percentages when the game is on the line?
If Fisher is wide open, Kobe trusts him and will pass to him for the open jumper.
Otherwise, is there really anyone that wouldn’t want Kobe to take that shot?