According to ESPN TrueHoop, Kobe is not THAT clutch. OH, MY GOSH. TRUEHOOP HATES KOBE.
With the percentages, I’m not surprised.
Since he came into the league (1996-97), Kobe Bryant is 36 out of 115 shots when his team is trailing by 1 or 2 points, or tied, in the last 24 seconds of both regular season and playoff games. That would be 31.3 percent. (Shoutout to Alok Pattani of ESPN Stats and Info.) In a list that compiles all the players that took a minimum of 30 shots under this category, guys like Shawn Marion, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Steve Francis, and the notoriously “unclutch” Vince Carter are all ahead of Kobe, percentage-wise (Paul Pierce isn’t even on this list and I consider him very clutch).
But a lot goes into being “clutch.” What about what happens before the final 24 seconds? Is Ron Artest’s 3-pointer in Game 7 of the NBA Finals NOT clutch? Is Kobe’s destruction of the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 last year NOT clutch? What about the passes? Is LeBron James (a lot of people say he’s not clutch even though he’s ahead of Kobe on that list I mentioned in the above paragraph) passing to Damon Jones for a series-winner NOT clutch?
Also… his penchant of making shots under duress has proven over and over on why the Lakers repeatedly go back to him. 36 shots is the most under the category TrueHoop put him under. But what about if the Lakers needed a basket when they’re up 1 with a minute left? What about if the Lakers needed a basket that would put them up two possessions with 30 seconds left? Plus, would you rather have, say, Andrew Bynum put up a “clutch” basket?
Let’s take it even further. What about the magnitude of the game? It takes balls to put up shots under these circumstances. No disrespect to Marion here but would you trust him to make a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of a Finals game rather than Kobe?
You can’t disagree with TrueHoop here when it comes to percentages but there’s more to being clutch than putting up shots in the final 24 seconds. What about the passes during crunch time? What about the freethrows in the final minute? Again, I’m not surprised that Kobe’s percentage is low when it comes to that. Most teams throw the farm at him when he’s ready to take the game-winner. And sometimes, he’ll take difficult shots just to get the shot off. But like I said, it takes a lot of guts to put those kinds of shots up. He’s not afraid and you gotta give that guy props.
And there’s a reason why general managers, coaches, players, and fans say Kobe is the guy they want taking the last shot. He’s done it over and over. The percentages of TrueHoop don’t lie (great work by their staff, by the way), yes, but the volume of shots he has made don’t lie, either.
PHOTO CREDITS: Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images.
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