How good is Kobe in the clutch?

TrueHoop has a piece that outlines Kobe’s performance in crunch time, which for the purposes of this post is a shot that has a chance to tie or win the game in the last 10 seconds of regulation or overtime.

– This season, Bryant has made seven of the 12 shots, with a chance to win or tie the game, in the last ten seconds of regulation or overtime.

– Bryant’s the only player in the last decade who has made seven such shots in a season.

– Bryant has made 26 of the 89 potential game tying or game-winning field goals he has shot over the last decade. That’s 29.2%, which is slightly above League average.

Henry Abbott breaks down why Kobe is good in the clutch:

At that time of the game, there’s value in being able to create scoring opportunities. Bryant may shoot those difficult fallaways that often miss, but he’d be a far worse player if he couldn’t get a shot off at all. And that’s the situation some lesser players would find themselves in.

In 2008-09, 82games reports that Kobe was the best in the clutch, which, by their definition, is the last five minutes of regulation or overtime, and neither team ahead by more than five points. (I’m not sure why 82games doesn’t provide league-wide clutch stats for the current season since they do have those numbers on the individual player pages.) Last year, Bryant scored at a rate of 56.7 points (per 48 minutes) and this season he is posting 48.1 points. He shot 45.7% last season compared to 43.2% this year.

Kobe hits a lot of game-winners for a few reasons: 1) he’s really good at getting off a decent shot even though the defense knows he’s getting the ball, 2) he takes a lot of game-winners, and 3) he has supreme confidence in his ability to score when the game is on the line. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that he doesn’t take the ball to the hole when the game is on the line, probably because refs have a tendency to swallow the whistle and let “the players decide the outcome.” He’s not an “and one” guy on the same level as LeBron, so he’d rather shoot a fadeaway and take his chances.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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