LeBron James has missed game-tying three-point attempts in the dying seconds in each of the Heat’s last three losses, which span four games.Last night’s misfire was the most egregious. Trailing the Magic by 99-96 with three seconds to play, James collected an offensive rebound and clanked a wide open look at the cup.
But before we jump on James and use this as further proof he lacks the alpha-dog mentality (a la MJ) needed to win, consider the full resume, not a recent swoon.
Clutch reputations are largely built on memory. And our memories are subjective. Consider that Kobe Bryant, the player most frequently selected as the game’s best closer, is actually not better than average in the clutch. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony, whose reputation has taken a hit thanks to lackluster defence and high-volume shooting, is the most efficient clutch scorer according to the statistics. But whether or not these players are statistically clutch really shouldn’t matter: when the game’s on the line, the ball should be in the hands of the player that performs whatever task is needed best over the large sample size of an 82-game season.
So don’t let year-long “Decision” hangover fool you, LeBron James is the most dominant player on his team, and should still get the ball down two-points with the game on the line. He can get to the rack better than any player in the league. And over the course of his career, he’s done it time after time in the clutch – including the playoffs.
And in three-point situations, the ball should go to LeBron James before it does Dwyane Wade. James is a career 34 per cent shooter from long range, and 33 per cent this season. Wade is 31 per cent on his career, but just 29 per cent this season.
Of course, neither player’s percentages are particularly impressive from long range. Really, the guy best suited to take these shots is your All-Star Weekend 3-point champ James Jones. He’s shooting .412 from deep this season, and could nail the shot James missed in his sleep.
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