Which NBA Superstar Do You Call for These Game Situations?
Success in basketball is often a matter of putting the right personnel in the right place at the right time, so which NBA stars would you want in crucial situations?
Out of today's collection of pro talent, who do you call on to make the big plays under pressure?
Keep in mind, the most talented player in a particular skill may not be the best choice in a critical situation.
Who do you call on to lead a successful comeback? Who would you want to utilize if you needed to stop the opponent's star post player? What if you're two free throws away from victory?
Find out who we chose as we reveal our "All-Situational" Team.
Late Game Defensive Stop: LeBron James
Opponents trying to score on LeBron James in crunch time can only hope for some luck.
He has the strength and length of a post player combined with the lateral quickness and reflexes of a guard. His athleticism, positioning and focus make it extremely difficult for foes to make any type of play, much less a shot.
James doesn't just cover swingmen in tight situations. He can shift to help defend the post in a pinch, and he can also switch out on point guards and contain them effectively.
Even the absolute best offensive weapons in the NBA struggle to get a comfortable shot off against James in late-game scenarios.
Key Rebound: Joakim Noah
He's not the best rebounder statistically. He's not the best rebounder athletically. He's not even the best per-minute rebounder on his own team.
But there's no one I'd rather call on to get a crucial board than Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah.
Two things are certain when it comes to Noah's prowess on the glass: Nobody will outwork him, and he'll give you just as much effort on the offensive boards as the defensive boards.
Kevin Love, you say? Anderson Varejao? They're phenomenal rebounders, but Noah stacks up well against them on the offensive glass and is taller and longer than both of them.
Sometimes the game is decided by who wants the ball most.
Overcoming a Huge Deficit: Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker leads one of the deadliest comeback units in basketball, the San Antonio Spurs.
Gregg Popovich's crew is the most mentally tough, fundamentally sharp team in the league. Those two attributes go a long way in enabling comebacks.
When you factor in Parker's natural knack for carving up defenses, it's clear that no lead over the Spurs is safe.
One of their best comebacks came in the 2012 playoffs. Parker's 23 points and control of the offense helped the Spurs erase a 24-point deficit in the 2012 playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
There are several superstars who are good candidates to lead massive comebacks, but Tony Parker has the best combination of individual talent, point guard skills and team support.
Buzzer Beater: Kevin Durant
Just a couple years ago, I would have tabbed Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony to be my last-second shooter. They're still near the top of the list, but when it comes to beating the clock, the player I trust to score is Kevin Durant.
The Oklahoma City Thunder sharpshooter has the size, the touch and the poise to convert under pressure. And his ball-handling is still improving, which makes him even more dangerous.
With silky-smooth skills and plenty of confidence, Durant is lethal when time is running out. Even though he's young, he already has a robust track record for beating the buzzer. Video evidence abounds:
As a rookie with the Seattle Sonics, Durant stunned the Atlanta Hawks as time expired.
In January of 2011, he burned the New York Knicks at the buzzer.
In December of 2011, he downed the Dallas Mavericks from deep.
For good measure, he hit another near-buzzer beater against the Mavs, but this time he did in in the 2012 playoffs.
Who will fall victim to his next heroics?
Crucial Lob Pass: Chris Paul
Don't be fooled into thinking Chris Paul is a good lobber just because he has the weapons to finish his tosses.
If anything, the high-flyers such as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan should feel lucky to have an alley-oop artist like Paul on their side.
It's not just a matter of tossing the ball accurately. Chris Paul has mastered the art of manipulating the defense, using body language and eye contact to throw off their positioning and timing. He then takes advantage of the perfect millisecond to quickly lob the ball to his airborne comrades.
Anyone can connect with the Blake Show for a lob, but Paul can do it in tight circumstances and make it look easy.
Final Free Throws: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant embodies the term "cool customer" when he's at the free-throw line.
He's calm, collected and fluid in his routine and execution. His unique shoulder-shimmy and smooth release are like clockwork.
The result is a career 88 percent from the charity stripe and 91 percent in 2012-13.
Much like his buzzer-beating ability, Durant's poise and confidence under pressure helps him knock down critical late-game free-throws.
Out of all the top free-throw shooters in NBA, he's the one I would want on the line if my team needed two points.
Critical Low-Post Defensive Stop: Tyson Chandler
Playing physical yet clean defense in the post is a tricky task, especially in late-game settings when the referees often bail out aggressive offensive forwards.
Who can you count on to play the toughest and truest defense in the paint for a key stop? Look no further than 2011-12 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
The New York Knicks All-Star center uses his strength, athleticism and positioning to keep power forwards and centers in front of him.
More importantly, he exercises discipline when contesting shots by not falling for pump fakes, timing his contests and going vertical for clean rejections.
He's the ultimate "last line of defense."
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