NBA Playoffs: 10 Superstars in the Playoffs You Want Taking the Last Shot
As a fan of sports, you live to watch greatness unfold in a last second defining moment. In football, it's the game winning touchdown. In baseball, it's the game winning home run. In basketball, it's the game winning shot.
Over the years, there have been some all-time clutch shooters and great sports moments. There is nothing like watching the best of the best will their team to victory.
Let's take a look into the year of 2011, and the class that sits in the class of "clutch."
10. Joe Johnson
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Because Joe Johnson doesn't play on one of the mainstream teams in the NBA, he almost flies below the radar as one of the low-key superstars in the league.
Johnson is a lights-out shooter. He has that X-factor that comes with the territory of being trustworthy in times of greatness. Although Joe has not necessarily had the career path as other superstars, he still is recognized as a leader in Atlanta.
Joe used to be a bench player for the Suns. Now, he's a $100 million dollar man for a Hawks team that thrives off of his willfulness to deliver time and time again. Although Joe has not won a ring, he is still deemed as one of the highly regarded players in the NBA.
Clutch Factor: 8
9. Derrick Rose
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There's not many point guards in this league that can do what Derrick Rose does. His ability to create opportunities for himself, as well as others, is what makes him a premier point guard in the NBA.
This season, he's averaging 24.6 PPG, consistently improving his scoring since his rookie season back in the 2008-2009 season.
Rose can score on you from 25 feet out, or two feet out. It makes no difference to him.
What we know for sure is that Derrick has come through in the clutch, time and time again for the Bulls. Chicago fans wouldn't want to put the ball in anyone else's hands but his when the game's on the line. That's the truth.
Clutch factor: 8
8. Kevin Durant
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Kevin Durant began a dedication to his shooting stroke starting at a very young age. He would hide in his local gym until the lights turned off and everyone went home. Then he would flick the lights back on and have an open gym to practice shooting all through the night.
Tell me he didn't practice counting down the game clock from five, four, three, two, one...swoosh.
When I was playing Mario, he was practicing how to be an amazing shooter, and that's exactly what the Duranchula is: a knockdown shooter.
There are not many players that come into the league at a young age and immediately be considered as "clutch." Durant is the exception. He is the knight and shining armor for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
OKC will go as far as Durant will take them. Or should I say, they will go as far as Kevin's clutchness will lead them.
Clutch factor: 8.5
7. Dirk Nowitzki
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The Dallas Mavericks have built a successful team around one man: Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk's ability at his size to knock down a big time shot from anywhere on the court makes him one of the most lethal and go-to versatile power forwards in NBA history.
Everyone questions the Mavericks long-time success with Dirk because a ring has never been brought to Dallas . That doesn't mean the Mavs haven't enjoyed the pleasure of watching Dirk lead every kind of team Mark Cuban adds around him as a supporting cast.
After all these years, Dirk is still in his prime. Because he's still in his prime, those game-winning shots will have to continue if the Mavericks look to make a deep playoff run.
Clutch factor: 8.5
6. Carmelo Anthony
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We all remember how many clutch shots Carmelo hit as a Nugget. We also remember how many clutch shots Carmelo hit as an Orangemen. Anthony is just clutch.
Off the court, Melo is in a transition mode right now as an athlete. He went from a relatively small market team in Denver to being the focal point of a team located in the mecca of sports: New York. But just because Anthony has gone through a so called "culture shock," it doesn't mean his game has altered at all.
It is safe to say Anthony has already arrived and delivered in a New York uniform. Expect Melo to be "Mr. Consistency of Clutch" at the Garden for years to come.
Clutch factor: 9
5. LeBron James
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Although LeBron has taken some criticism since the move from his hometown to South Beach, he's managed to overcome adversity and above all play extremely well.
As of late, the "King" has not delivered in clutch situations. But, I think it's because of what he's subconsciously thinking when he's taking that last second shot.
See, Dwayne Wade is one of the best in pressure situations. So is LeBron. Both James and Wade for their entire career have both been the "go-to-guy" on their respective teams. Now, they both want to win games for their team, but they haven't figured out the best formula.
Just because James missed two left-handed layups with the game on the line doesn't mean he should stop trying.
He's one of the most electrifying athletes of all time. Some of those electrifying moments have come in defining moments.
In due time, expect LeBron to make some clutch shots in a Miami uniform.
Clutch Factor: 9
4. Dwayne Wade
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There's a lot of speculation around the Miami Heat's capitalization or lack there of, at the end of games. The problem: Dwayne Wade isn't taking the last shots, at all.
Wade has hit game-winning shots, hoisted game-winning stops, and ultimately willed his team all the way to the promise land, and he's only in his mid-20's.
For some reason, the formula this season has not been completely figured out. If the Heat are going to finally get over the hump against top five teams, they need to have a set plan in close games.
That plan should be to get the ball to Dwayne Wade. Can I get a HEAT check?
Clutch factor: 9.5
3. Ray Allen
It's rare you see two clutch players that both deliver when the game's on the line playing on the same team. In Boston, you have Paul Pierce, and you have Ray Allen.
Since coming to the Celtics, Ray Allen has delivered offensively, preferably when the team needs three points.
Allen is one of the purest shooters in the game. His stroke is effortless, ageless, and above all, smooth. The good thing about having two players on a team that can knock down the big shot, is if one draws more attention than the other like a Paul Pierce, you have a Ray Allen wide open in the corner.
A tall order for any defense to try and defend.
Clutch factor: 9
2. Paul Pierce
Pierce, this season, is averaging a little over 19 PPG. For him, he probably thinks he can do better. For others, it's another year of excellent productivity at the small forward position for the C's.
Paul is the captain of this veteran team. Everyone knows when there's one shot left, it's Paul's for the taking.
Sometimes you ask yourself why in the world is he even getting open looks? He barely leaves his feet when he shoots.
Let me tell you this: There is no one in this league as good as Paul Pierce is with improvisational spacing. Because of that, everyone wants to feed him the ball in pressure moments, making him a big-time player
Clutch factor: 9
1. Kobe Bryant
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Is there a more clutch basketball player in this league other than Kobe Bryant? No way, no how. Kobe has five rings for a reason.
His game-winning shots in his career are somewhere over 30. Much in the clutch? I think so.
Kobe's ability to create separation against the best defenders in the league is what makes him so special. He can hit a 35-foot bank shot over Dwayne Wade's head, or he can hit an open elbow shot against the Suns for a playoff win. It doesn't really matter where he shoots, it's more a question of when is it dropping through the hoop for a game-winning shot.
Not many players get to Kobe's level. If there is an element of Kobe's game that comparable to Jordan's, it's their clutch factor. Seriously. Someone should write a book on it. It's that astonishing.
Clutch factor: 10