For a long time there was this view that LeBron James isn’t clutch. Yet, yesterday, he had the key three pointer, steal and rebound to win the game. I’ve always thought LeBron’s clutch.
I’m always very cautious about clutch statistics because you look at these numbers where Paul George is 2 in 32 when it comes to game winning shots, yesterday he shot an air ball with the game on the line. I think we can all agree that George doesn’t seem like the same player in the last minute of a game. You have to acknowledge that Tom Brady always feels clutch. I do think there are players who thrive or at least maintain in those situations. It’s the same with Derek Jeter who was just unflappable at the end of an innings.
Remember these two things when you look at basketballs clutch statistics. First of all, referees when there is a minute on the clock don’t want to decide a game and allow way more physical contact late. That’s what the analytics don’t tell you. That benefits LeBron James. Secondly, there is absolutely no question that players play way better defence in the last minutes of a game. With a minute to go and LeBron is on the floor he’s often facing heat, trapping and double teams.
I think ‘choker’ is an overused term. There are always moments that you cannot prepare yourself for and a certain set of circumstances means that you’re forced into certain decisions.
I have certain criteria for what a clutch player is. For instance, everyone loves Westbrook but people don’t realise that in the playoffs he’s shooting 25% on three pointers. Is that clutch? I don’t think so. When you have a favourite player does it fell like he can maintain his play even in those moments. Not necessarily better, just not bothered by it. I don’t care what the numbers say. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have the same form and confidence whether it be 9 seconds left or 9 minutes left.
Outside of that Dallas Mavericks series that LeBron is criticised so much for he has been the most clutch player in the NBA for over a decade. he shoots the ball exactly the same no matter how much time is on the clock.
That to me is clutch.