NBA Playoffs 2011: Ranking Kevin Durant and Playoffs' Top 4th-Quarter Players
Last night Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City thundered past the Denver Nuggets in a fourth-quarter performance that was nothing short of awesome. He introduced us to a scary face that was so intimidating it's been rumored that Chuck Norris turned off his TV and had bad dreams.
How do his fourth-quarter performances of this postseason stack up against those of some of the other NBA stars?
I applied my previously used metric to it with a couple of tweaks. The last time I used it some suggested that I should include winning. It was a good observation. Therefore I added a "team performance" aspect to it. This includes a plus-minus and winning percentage, which are weighted to account for 10 percent and five percent respectively.
The rest of the score is based on assigning the following per 36 minute stats:
Unassisted Field Goal: 1.3
Missed Field Goal: -.7
Missed Free Throw: -.35
All data was taken from StatsCube
Missing the Cut
There are a few notable stars that are not in the top 10. While I'm sure this won't stop the "Where's Kobe Bryant?" comments, I'll post this anyway so people aren't thinking I "forgot" him.
It is possible there are players I did actually forget though. I went through most of the star players I could think that would be in the top 10, but there is no sortable list I could go through, so I had to go through individually. Here are some players I didn't forget.
Kobe Bryant: Kobe is 13th in the rankings. It's not my fault, I didn't adjust the formula to leave him out. It seems that the main reason he's not on is that his field goal percentage in the fourth quarter is 32 percent. Even if you don't factor in the team results, he misses out on the top 10. Add in that he's only a plus-3.3 and his winning percentage is only .600, and he drops from 12th to 14th.
Dwyane Wade: There have been a lot of assertions that Dwyane Wade is the better closer than LeBron James, but the stats don't bear that up. In fact, Wade isn't even one of the top 10 fourth-quarter performers in the NBA postseason. He's been shooting 38 percent and is minus-5.9 in the fourth so far this postseason. The negative plus-minus is the reason he's 12th.
Other players I looked at include Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Jamal Crawford, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joe Johnson.
10. Brandon Roy, 38.2
Based largely on the strength of what can be best described as his "bionic" performance in leading Portland back in the fourth quarter of Game 4. Roy's primary strengths are his 7.9 assists and 17.6 points per 36 fourth-quarter minutes.
9. Dwight Howard, 40.5
Dwight Howard's production in the fourth quarter suffers a bit because of his challenges at the charity stripe, which is why, while he could be argued as having the best postseason overall of anyone, the fourth-quarter rankings have him down a bit more.
Howard's 36-minute stats in the fourth quarter are highlighted by 13.2 rebounds and 24.2 points.
8. LeBron James, 41.6
LeBron James is down lower than I would have expected, largely because his fourth-quarter field-goal percentage is a meager 39 percent, well off his 47 percent for the entire postseason.
James still grabs nine board, dishes three assists and racks up 21 points per 36 minutes in the 4th. That's not bad—it's just not as "LeBronian" as we're used to.
7. Paul Pierce, 43.1
Pierce makes the list primarily on the strength of his extremely efficient fourth-quarter scoring and the Boston sweep. On just 16.5 attempts per 36 fourth-quarter minutes, Pierce scores 26.7 points. It will be interesting to see if Pierce can continue to keep up that kind of fourth-quarter pace against LeBron James in the next round.
6. Rajon Rondo, 43.3
Rondo is just ahead of his Celtic teammate. Not at all surprisingly, his 9.6 assists per 36 fourth-quarter minutes are tops on the list. Throw in 6.4 boards, 12.8 points and a plus-8.1 in the fourth, and then top it all off with a sweep, and you've got enough to get the sixth-best fourth-quarter performer in the NBA.
5. Chris Paul, 46.2
Chris Paul is averaging 4.5 boards and 5.3 assists and shoots 58 percent to score 32.3 points per 36 minutes in the fourth. Paul is a stud. Based on individual score he's the third-best.
However, he's got a losing record (although the fact that he's got it against the Lakers and it's barely that sort of make that less meaningful) and is minus-4.5.
In short, the numbers have him fifth, but if someone wants to push him up to one based on opinion, I'm not going to turn Hornet blue arguing.
4. Luol Deng, 47.1
If you're surprised to see Luol Deng's name here, so was I. If you're struggling to know why or how, it's largely because of two things.
First, he actually scores 21.9 points per 36 minutes in the fourth quarter, but the main reason is absolutely stellar defense. While he's on the court in the fourth quarter, the Bulls only give 88 points per 100 possessions.
That results in a plus-35, the highest of any player in the NBA for the fourth quarter in the playoffs so far. Based on the weighted score, that gives him a 22.3, nearly his individual score. Tom Thibodeau often says that Deng does many things that don't show up in the stat sheet, and this vindicates that claim.
3. Russell Westbrook, 58.6
Russell has rustled up some fourth-quarter performances so far this postseason, three-point game-winning air ball attempts notwithstanding.
The only player on this list who grabs more fourth-quarter rebounds than Westbrook's 11.5 is Dwight Howard. Westbrook also scores 29.5 points. On top of that he's got a tidy plus-25.4. Oh yeah, and his Thunder took their series four games to one.
That's good enough to make him the third-best postseason fourth-quarter performer so far.
2. Derrick Rose, 71.1
No, Derrick Rose is not in first (for those who are assuming that being a Bulls fan makes it possible for me to alter reality). While he struggles the rest of the game, he actually shoots better in the fourth quarter with a 50 percent effective field-goal percentage.
His real strength is now what his biggest weakness was at the beginning of the season, though. The man who once couldn't get a call is averaging 16.6 attempts per 36 fourth-quarter minutes, which helps him score 33.2 points.
His defense is also at a higher level in the final frame. His average of 4.6 steals is almost two more than anyone else on this list. His fourth-quarter defensive rating, along with his prodigious output, helps him to a plus-25.8. All this together make him only the second-best fourth-quarter performer so far.
1. Kevin Durant, 71.2
The Durantula is no itsy-bitsy spider. He's a monster-sized hairy spider with the monster scare-Chuck-Norris-face. He's climbed to another level, and he planted his feet firmly on that ground last night. Pretty much every aspect of his game is better in the fourth.
Per 36 fourth-quarter minutes, he averages 42.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and shoots a whopping 68 percent from the field, and his effective field-goal percentage is 85.4 percent. That is not a typo. Durant is a fourth-quarter stud so far.
And seriously, that's some scary face.
Top 15 Based on Individual Scores
Here are the top 16 individual scores, just in case you're wondering. Besides, I wanted an excuse to put another pic up of the scary face.