The Late Game Jump Shooter is Key to Success in NBA Playoffs

Woodrow Bellamy IIIContributor IMay 19, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against the Phoenix Suns in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Think back to every close game you've ever seen that went down to the wire in the NBA Playoffs.  How many of those were won or lost on a fadeaway mid-range jumper or a spot on three-pointer?

The answer would be the majority of them. 

Jordan's game-winner over the Jazz in 1997, all of those crazy game-winner fadeaways by Derek Fisher, and Kobe lighting up the Orlando Magic from the field in last year's NBA Finals.

The late-game jumper is crucial to win in the NBA Playoffs, and it's probably the reason why LeBron still isn't playing.  Think about it, when he drives and gets collapsed on by three Celtics defenders, who's he going to dish it off to?

Mo Williams? Good luck. 

By the way, for those of you who aren't basketball die-hards like myself, when I say "late-game jumper," I'm referring to late-in-the-game-jump-shots.  As in, late in the fourth quarter.

The four teams left in the playoffs are all great shooting teams with great mid-range jump shooters. They all shoot over 47 percent from the field as a team, with Orlando shooting the highest at 48 percent. 

A guy like Vince Carter really helps Orlando out because unlike Rafer Alston from last year's team, Carter is a consistently good jump shooter and has been throughout his career.

Furthermore, the reason why the late-game jumper is so important is because of the nature of the NBA schedule and minutes piling up on players' knees. 

Consider a player like Kobe Bryant who has lead his team in minutes per game over the past three seasons, while playing in two NBA Finals and leading the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in China in 2008.

Fourth quarter, three minutes to go in the 95th game of the season, guy's legs are tired, and they have to hit that mid-range jumper over an outstretched defender if they expect to win.

Sure, defense, rebounding, and all the fundamentals help you win in the playoffs as well, there's no denying that.  However, just notice how good jump shooting late in the game keeps teams in the hunt—and helps others win close games.