In the NBA, crunch time is the most critical part of the game.
It can either be a time of sheer determination and glory or a time of anxiety and loss. Crunch time truly separates the winners from the losers.
In order to shine on the brightest stage and bring glory to their team, a player must possess a certain skill, a killer instinct. This instinct is the skill of being "clutch."
However, there are only a few players in the NBA, currently, who thrive under pressure.
There are a lot of statistics that differentiate between clutch and non-clutch players, and I can create a list based on those statistics alone.
But, what's the fun in that?
I created this list on a simple basis: the player I would want to take the shots or make the best passes during the most important time of the game. Defense and experience in the clutch are taken into account, too.
David West may be one of the biggest surprises on the list.
However, he has made a few very big shots for the Hornets over the past few seasons.
Even though Brandon Roy is definitely not what he used to be because of his knee injuries, he still possesses a killer instinct.
Just look at what he did to the Mavericks in Game 4 of the second round of the playoffs.
Monta Ellis can drive and shoot in the clutch.
However, at times, he’s hard to trust because he isn’t very efficient offensively and defensively.
Jamal Crawford is streaky.
At certain points, he can take over the game, hitting jump shots from everywhere on the court.
He could be higher on the list but his shot selection is questionable.
In my opinion, Kevin Martin is a bit underrated in the league.
During crunch time, he can hit shots from anywhere on the floor.
However, his defense is pretty lousy.
Rudy Gay proved his crunch-time prowess when he made the J at the buzzer over LeBron James.
That was epic.
The primary reason why Curry is on this list is because he has one of the purest jump shots in the NBA.
In addition, Curry has the ability to penetrate and dish it out during crunch time.
Dwight Howard is the best center in the game, hands down.
He dominates players offensively and defensively.
Although Howard hasn’t really played all that much in the clutch, I would still feed him the ball because of what he’s able to do.
Also, his shot-blocking ability cannot be counted out.
Sometimes Westbrook gets a little out of hand and shoots a bunch of bad shots.
However, he is still very capable of being clutch.
He can drive and score but also dish out a pass when penetrating to the hoop.
Stoudemire is an outstanding post player who can also shoot from the outside.
He could be higher on the list but, at times, he wilts under pressure.
We call him Mr. Big Shot for a reason.
Ray Allen, the best three-point shooter ever, hits big shots.
Some may expect him to be higher on the list, but he is pretty one-dimensional during crunch time.
He can’t create his own shot off the dribble—he requires a series of picks.
However, when he does shoot, he’s lights-out.
Zach Randolph surprised many in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Although he can’t jump much at all, his post moves worked very well against the Spurs. It seemed like every shot he attempted went in.
Nash can make the right pass at the right time and also shoot with ease.
Kevin Durant has become one of the shining stars of the NBA in the past few seasons due to his impressive play.
Durant is on this list because he’s a great shooter. He can spot up but also create a jump shot for himself at the end of the game.
However, Durant doesn’t have the experience in crunch time like many others on the list, which is why he is lower than many of you may have expected.
Many may argue that “LeBrick” doesn’t deserve to be this high on the list.
However, his ability to defend four positions during crunch time cannot go unnoticed.
Also, he’s purely lethal when he hits his shots and drives to the hoop.
Many may argue that “King James” deserves to be higher on the list, too. However, sometimes he makes very poor decisions in important times, whether it’s a bad shot or pass.
Hands down, Paul Pierce is the best closer on the Boston Celtics.
Throughout his career with the Celtics, Pierce has had some big moments in the most important games, most notably in the 2008 NBA Finals.
Pierce can create his own shot. His ability to knock down a jump shot at the elbow has become routine for him during crunch time.
He also carries himself with swagger, which is very important. He wants the ball at the end of games.
Ginobili has the ability to turn a play that has gone horribly wrong into a quality basket.
Throughout his career, Manu has made miracles happen in the most important games.
What makes Deron Williams such a good clutch player is the fact that is he just as good creating for others as he is creating for himself—that's a lethal combination.
During crunch time, he has the option of either penetrating and creating an opportunity for a teammate or pulling up for a jump shot, driving in for a layup and getting to the line.
Like Deron Williams, Chris Paul is huge threat because, during crunch time, he has the ability to create for others and create for himself.
Paul is also a great defender too. He can lock down opposing point guards.
Derrick Rose emerged onto the stage of NBA superstardom this past season.
He led the Chicago Bulls to the best record in the NBA as well as a pretty successful run in the playoffs.
During crunch time, Rose can either drive to the basket and hit an astonishing circus shot or draw a foul and go to the line. In addition, he can dish the ball out to an open shooter.
Rose could be higher on the list but he still doesn’t have the ability to hit jumpers in crucial times and sometimes he misses significant free throws.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score whenever and wherever he wants and he has shown NBA fans and analysts that ability in significant games.
He has the amazing yet unusual ability to drive to the basket with ease because of his size but, at the same time, hit silky smooth jumpers.
Dwyane Wade has had clutch moment after clutch moment, most notably in the 2006 NBA Finals.
He slashes to the rim and hits circus shots or draws the foul.
Sometimes, his jump shot comes into question, but despite that, he still finds a way to win.
After years of being labeled the soft European guy who didn’t come through in the clutch, Dirk Nowitzki proved that he’s the king of crunch time, using his un-guardable jumper and making strong drives to the basket, while leading his Mavs to their first NBA title ever.
I still have to put Kobe Bryant at the top of the list.
Despite Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the playoffs, I would still rather have Bryant take the final shot.
He has the fiercest killer instinct in the league and he’s the closest player to Michael Jordan that we have probably seen.