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Sunday, May 27, 2018

NBA GMs say Kevin Durant is now more clutch than Kobe Bryant

It used to be that there was no better closer in basketball than Kobe Bryant, but then Kevin Durant came along. Put two, three or however many guys you want on Kobe and he’ll probably still score with the game on the line and the Lakers trailing by less than four points. But does Durant do it better?

In an annual survey, NBA general managers voted Kevin Durant the most clutch player in the NBA. More specifically, the question asked who they would want to give the ball to with their team down by one and 15 seconds left to play. Durant received 46.7% of the vote compared to Bryant’s 40.0%.

Pro Basketball Talk crunched some numbers from last season and determined that the GMs have plenty of reason for their choice. Kobe Bryant shot 32.8% overall last season in the final three minutes of a game with his team leading or trailing by three points. Durant shot 43.3% in the same situation. Kobe had a slight edge in three-pointers in that situation with 33% shooting compared to K.D.’s 30.4%.

As for the actual last shot — as in last 10 seconds of a game with your team trailing by less than four points or in a tie — Durant crushed Kobe last season. K.D. went 5-for-12 in that situation (41.7%) while Kobe shot only 2-for-10 (20%).

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade stepped up and made shots like these ones during the postseason, but Carmelo Anthony finished third in the voting with 6.7%. It should be noted that Kobe is 34 years old and Durant is 24, so some of the late-game statistics could be a result of fatigue and declining skills. In any event, there is a new Captain Clutch in the league — at least for now.

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