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The NBA’s Top 5 Closers
In the past couple of weeks, there have been a lot of late game heroics by several of the games best. For Example, the game winning shot by Kobe Bryant against he Raptors with 4 seconds left in Toronto, and Dirk Nowitzki closing out games against the Clippers, and Blazers with 11 points in the 4th quarter against LA, and two huge jumpers in overtime to ice the game for the Mavericks. Also, The Knicks new “superstar” Jeremy Lin hitting against the Raptors to win the game. Poor Raptors, getting hit twice this week.
Being a closer, or a great clutch time performer, is having the ability to make and take the last shot, or the shots that count the most. Showing the NBA, and its fans that you can be counted on in the closing seconds, and/or minutes, or even the entire 4th quarter. Players like Kobe, and Dirk are masters at their craft in the 4th quarter, and they are proving it yet again this season.
Here are my Top 5 closers in the NBA:
5. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Now, I understand that Carmelo hasn’t played great this season, and that he hasn’t really hit a prime time clutch shot this season, but in past experiences, he is a proven clutch player, and performs when it matters most. He is not a all round great player, but he does have great ability when going to his pull up jumper, or his game in the one-on-one isolation. Last season in the series against the Celtics, he performed at his best in the 4th quarters, and did not have much help, as Chauncey Billups, and Amare Stoudemire were both injured for most of that series. Carmelo has one of the best jumpers in the game, and when it is on, there is no stopping him. Carmelo this season, has had his worst all season, and some of that is because of the lockout, and it looks like he was living “LARGE” if you know what I mean. He looks like he gained about 15 pounds, and reportedly, needed a bigger sized jersey this season. I think he is a little out of shape this season, just like many of the NBA players this season, that’s one of the reasons, he hasn’t been healthy all season long with several injuries. If he loses, that 10-15 pounds he gained in the off-season, he can without a doubt return to play at a high level, and get back to being a clutch and great crunch time player yet again, but I am giving him number 5 on the past clutch gene, and out of respect.
4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Time and time again Paul Pierce is overlooked, and not credited for his amazing ability to get his shot off when it is needed most. Paul Pierce being at the age of 34 years old, hasn’t been the player that you think he’d be. You saw last year in the playoffs, that the entire Celtics team, noticeably Garnett, Allen, and Pierce, where not healthy, and looked old, and slow. But he is still a clutch player, and never gets the respect he deserves by fans, and expects. But I trust Paul Pierce with the ball in the last 2 minutes of a game, and I think he’ll prove it yet again as the season goes on.
Now this is where it gets really hard. I had trouble with rankings these three guys, and I had to start nit-picking. Heres my Top 3:
3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
The Heat’s batman, as ESPN’s Skip Bayless likes to say. And I agree with him completely. Wade has proven early and late in his career that he is one of the best closers in the NBA. In 2006, he showed why. Exploding for Miami, to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals, and willing the Heat to their first NBA title was one of the best performances in NBA history. Now, late in his career he continues to show why he is one of the best closers in the NBA, and maybe of all time. Wade’s game is a lot different than a lot of other top players in the NBA. Instead of hitting these crazy shots, or 30 foot threes, he likes to take it to the basket, and get a three the old fashion way. He is one of the most aggressive players in the NBA, and he proved it last season. This season, like the other on this list, got off to a slow start, but he has picked it up lately averaging 21.9 PPG, and shooting 48% percent from the field. He has been huge for the Heat in 4th quarters, and has played amazingly as of late. Based off of Wade’s reputation he is number three on my list.
2. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
The 2011 Finals MVP, and 2007 Regular season MVP, has shown once again THIS season that last year was no BS. Last season in the playoffs, he without a doubt proved that he was clutch, and one of the Top 15-20, (can even make a case for 10) players of all time. Defeating the Miami Heat who had Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James, and was one of the best defenses of all time, he played his best postseason of his career. Against OKC, and LAL he was unstoppable, and in my opinion, even with Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge playing at a high level, I’ll still take Dirk over all of those guys. Dirk this season, as I said earlier has performed amazingly in the 4th quarter, with several big wins against the Clippers, Blazers, and Celtics where he was the driving force to win those games with big shots down the stretch. In Boston, with the game tied at 85-85, he drives on still one of the best post defenders in the league, Kevin Garnett, to hit a three point play, and ice the game for Dallas. Against the Clippers, hits a huge jumper down the stretch, and goes for three in the corner with Blake Griffin’s hand in his face, to cut the Clippers lead to 83-82, and goes 7-7 from the free throw line. If that’s not being clutch, then I don’t know what is.
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe once again this season has shown that he is still of the best players in the league, and in NBA history. Bryant this season, has shown that he can still do it. Against Toronto, he hits a fade away jumper in the corner to win the game fir LA. What more evidence do I need for Kobe Bryant. He willed his team to two championships in the last three years, and is one of the best closers in the game today. In the playoffs, Bryant goes into another level, and doesn’t allow things to get to him. He has proven that he doesn’t need Shaq, or anyone that doesn’t make to win. End of Story.
Looking at number one and two, you can easily flip them around. Dirk has proven it lately, and Kobe is still living off the past game winners. It doesnt matter, because Dirk and Kobe are in a league of their own when it comes to the 4th quarter, and closing a game out for their team when it matters most.
- Kevin Durant, OKC
- Deron Williams, NJN
- Derrick Rose, CHI
Thanks for reading!
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