Ranking NBA's Most Cold-Blooded Closers

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIJanuary 24, 2013

Ranking NBA's Most Cold-Blooded Closers

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    When the game is on the line, it is up to the NBA's elite, clutch players to step up and decide the outcome.

    Whether that's by making the clutch shot to secure a win or feed an open shooter, stars are made by how they perform with the game on the line.

    So who are the NBA's most cold-blooded closers?

    From the superstars who we've all come to love and admire to the under-the-radar players, this list is exclusive to those who can achieve greatness.

    While some names will be expected, others will be nothing short of a surprise.

    So who are the NBA's true killers in the clutch?

     

    Clutch: Within or ahead by five points with 5:00 or less remaining in the fourth quarter.

Honorable Mention: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Position: Point Guard

    Clutch FG: 25 FGM, 9 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .446 FG%, .360 3PT%, .527 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    16.52 PER, 18.3 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG

     

    Thus far in 2012-13, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has made everyone forget that he is a rookie.

    Lillard ranks second in the NBA in clutch field goals made. He places behind Kevin Durant, O.J. Mayo and Tony Parker, who place first.

    Just one field goal ahead.

    Lillard's defining moment came on December 16, 2012 against the New Orleans Hornets. After making just four of his first 13 shots, Lillard came up huge.

    His game-winning jump shot as time expired was the difference between winning and losing.

    Since then, there's been no turning back. Lillard is performing at an All-Star-caliber level and scoring in the clutch like few others can.

    This rookie has been nothing short of unbelievable..

10. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    Position: Small Forward

    Clutch FG: 22 FGM, 3 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .468 FG%, .214 3PT%, .500 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    30.30 PER, 26.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG

     

    LeBron James presently ranks seventh in the NBA in clutch field goals made.

    This should dispel the rumors of his inability to score with the game on the line. Shooting 46.8 percent from the floor in such situations is a major reason why.

    Entering the Heat's January 23 game against the Toronto Raptors, James also led the NBA in clutch assists:

     

    LeBron has a league-leading 28 clutch assists -- more than Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams combined.

    — Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) January 18, 2013

     

    Cold-blooded closer? One way or another, he is.

    The numbers don't lie on that.

9. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Position: Point Guard

    Clutch FG: 25 FGM, 6 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .431 FG%, .273 3PT%, .483 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    22.28 PER, 23.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.8 SPG

     

    Kyrie Irving may not be making a high percentage of his clutch field-goal attempts, but he's certainly seeing a great deal of opportunities with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    As a rookie in 2011-12, Irving led the NBA in points per 48 minutes of clutch play. In 2012-13, Irving ranks second in clutch field goals made.

    More of the same from the Cleveland savior.

    Irving appears to have the Kobe Bryant syndrome—when the game is on the line, his teammates instantly defer to him.

    As more clutch opportunities come, Irving will continue to make the highlight reel.

    We wouldn't have it any other way.

8. O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Clutch FG: 26 FGM, 9 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .481 FG%, .429 3PT%, .565 EFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    16.79 PER, 18.2 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 42.6% 3PT

     

    Believe it or not, O.J. Mayo is tied with Kevin Durant for first in the NBA in clutch field goals made.

    Not so coincidentally, Mayo had his shining moment when matched up against Durant himself. KD and Dirk Nowitzki traded baskets throughout, but it was Mayo who sent the game into overtime.

    As one can see in the video placed above, Mayo drained a clutch three-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

    Just more of the same from the former USC Trojan.

    Although Dirk Nowitzki is likely to reprise his role as a clutch killer, we cannot discredit Mayo. He is a sharpshooter with limitless range and a knack for coming up with the game on the line.

    The proof is in the numbers. Those and the video placed above.

    More time as a clutch scorer will boost his name up this list.

7. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Position: Point Guard

    Clutch FG: 15 FGM, 2 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .429 FG%, .250 3PT%, .457 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    26.11 PER, 16.6 PPG, 9.7 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.6 SPG

     

    What more can you say about Chris Paul?

    CP3 has long been one of the most reliable clutch scorers in the NBA. He ranked fifth in the NBA in clutch scoring in 2011-12.

    It's been more of the same in 2012-13.

    Paul has sealed victories and led comebacks with his scoring and facilitating. He's also shooting 91.6 percent from the charity stripe.

    Although injuries have cut his contributions short, there is one undeniable fact: When a game is on the line and CP3 is involved, something special is about to transpire.

6. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

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    Position: Small Forward

    Clutch FG: 18 FGM, 8 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .333 FG%, .444 3P%, .407 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    19.09 PER, 18.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG

     

    Thus far in 2012-13, Paul Pierce leads the NBA in field goals to tie a game or take a lead with less than 5:00 remaining in the fourth quarter.

    Anyone who tells you that The Truth isn't clutch needs to get his eyes checked.

    Pierce may be 35, but when it comes down to the waning minutes, there is no one better.

    Pierce is lethal from beyond the arc, shooting 44.4 percent during clutch situations. Although his overall field-goal percentage is less than desirable, he's also placed in said scenarios more than the average.

    Pierce will come up big with the game on the line.

    As soon as you doubt that, he'll prove otherwise.

5. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Clutch FG: 14 FGM, 1 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .424 FG%, .125 3PT%, .439 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    14.80 PER, 17.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.0 RPG, 38.8% 3PT

     

    For all of his four quarter inconsistencies, Joe Johnson has been absolutely phenomenal with the game on the line.

    Johnson has 10 game-tying or lead-creating field goals with 2:00 or less remaining in the fourth quarter. 

    This is a continuation of 2011-12, when Johnson ranked eighth in the NBA in clutch scoring. His tendency to step up in the clutch has continued in 2012-13.

    Johnson's game-winner in the video linked above is just scratching the surface.

    Johnson hit a second double-overtime game-winner against the Washington Winners.

    Johnson then hit a game-deciding jumper against their rival New York Knicks

    Results.

4. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    Position: Small Forward

    Clutch FG: 12 FGM, 2 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .375 FG%, .286 3PT%, .406 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    25.29 PER, 29.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 42.0% 3PT

     

    Carmelo Anthony is one of the best clutch performers in a generation.

    His field-goal percentages are weak during clutch situations. With that being said, the New York Knicks defer to 'Melo on a relatively consistent basis.

    Anthony's clutch three against Chicago in 2011-12 provided the evidence of his greatness. A major reason why is the other clutch three which won the game.

    He's continued this play by ranking second in the NBA in clutch scoring.

    Even as his percentages are down, it's hard to imagine any coach looking to someone other than 'Melo in the clutch. He's a killer with limitless range and a tendency to thrive under pressure.

    What more could you ask for?

3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Clutch FG: 15 FGM, 5 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .349 FG%, .263 3PT%, .407 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    23.43 PER, 29.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.4 SPG

     

    Popular theory may suggest that Kobe Bryant is no longer clutch.

    Think again.

    Kobe has the most fourth-quarter field goals of any player in the NBA at 111. He's done so on a slash line of .464/.359/.533.

    The final number is Effective Field Goal Percentage, not free-throw shooting.

    Bryant also ranks second in fourth-quarter three-point field goals behind Stephen Curry.

    When it comes to the final five minutes of a game, Bryant places second in the league behind Kevin Durant in field goals made. Bryant leads the league in field goals with less than 2:00 remaining.

    Unfortunately, Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers are being blown out too often this season for his contributions to truly show.

    That's not on Kobe, though. His clutch play remains at a phenomenal level.

2. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    Position: Point Guard

    Clutch FG: 26 FGM, 4 3PM

    Clutch FG%: .500 FG%, .500 3PT%, .538 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    22.67 PER, 19.7 PPG, 7.3 APG, 2.9 RPG, 0.9 SPG

     

    Surprised?

    Not only is Tony Parker tied for the most clutch field goals in the NBA, but he is shooting 50.0 percent from the floor during clutch situations.

    Parker has been absolutely phenomenal during any game situation, but he has a flare for showing up when the game is on the line.

    Although Parker is an often an afterthought amongst casual fans, this is just a fraction of the reason he's one of the best point guards in the NBA.

    The Frenchman's a virtual lock to step up with the game on the line.

    Parker ranks second in the NBA in field goals made to tie a game or take a lead during the final 5:00 of the fourth quarter. He's shooting 52.4 percent in that time and has made 4-of-6 three-point field goals.

    What more can you say about the former Finals MVP?

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Position: Small Forward

    Clutch FG: 26 FG, 5 3PT

    Clutch FG%: .481 FG%, .333 3PT%, .528 eFG%

    2012-13 Season Averages

    29.15 PER, 29.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG

     

    Is anyone going to oppose this ranking?

    Kevin Durant leads the NBA in clutch field goals during the 2012-13 NBA regular season. He's done so on 48.1-percent shooting from the floor during such situations.

    Durant is also shooting 91.2 percent from the free-throw line in clutch situations.

    This is far from a new trend—the three-time scoring champion has been coming up in the clutch since day one. Perhaps the turning point for KD transpired during the opening round of the 2012 Playoffs.

    Durant's unbelievable jump shot led to an OKC win and changed the trajectory of the series.

    This has continued to be a factor in any game Durant plays. One way or another, Durant is going to make the impossible possible.

    That's exactly why he's the most cold-blooded closer in the NBA.