Which NBA player would you want to take last shot?

April 19, 2011

Give it to Allen

Paul Doyle

Hartford Courant

It's tempting to give the ball to a young gun such as Derrick Rose, Chris Paul or Kevin Durant, but we'll wait until they win a ring before crowning any as Mr. Clutch.

Elite scorers such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade deserve consideration, but our choice is the best long-range shooter in NBA history.

The Celtics' Ray Allen has shown an ability to create his shot and bury a jumper no matter the circumstances. The guy is fearless and cool, and unlike LeBron, he seems to want the ball for the final shot.

Plus he's teamed with a clutch shooter in Pierce, along with other offensive options (Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett). Defenses will contest Pierce and keep an eye on Rondo and Garnett, allowing Allen to get an open look. And we've learned that Allen rarely misses an open jumper.

pdoyle@tribune.com

Allen for the win

Ron Fritz

Baltimore Sun

I was going to say Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, but everyone knows he takes the last shot and defends him to do so. Being from Cleveland, I'd say LeBron James of the Heat, so I could watch him miss it. But that's not very sporting of me. The one player who is money and I'd want to have the ball at the end is Ray Allen of the Celtics.

It's not because he buried the Knicks on Sunday by hitting a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left. He always gets good looks, he's not afraid to take the shot and teams also have to defend Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett. According to ESPN.com, Allen has made an NBA-leading seven go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime since the start of the 2007 season.

So it's Ray Allen for the win.

rtfritz@tribune.com

Not Rose just yet

K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Derrick Rose has taken over for Kobe Bryant as the game's best closer, but that doesn't mean he's the player I'd most want taking the last shot. That honor still belongs to the owner of the prettiest jumper in the league and all-time leading 3-point shooter, Celtics All-Star Ray Allen. And it didn't take his game-winning 3-pointer to down the Knicks in Game 1 of their series to seal the deal.

Allen has been knocking down clutch shots since Rose was in grammar school.

He's also a physical marvel, working hard in the offseason to maintain his conditioning for late-game moments. As pretty as his shot is, his legs are what drives it. And his ability to run defenders off screen after screen is why he has had so many opportunities to deliver.

Sunday's game-winner won't be his last, probably not even during this postseason. Rose's time will come, but Allen is still the man for now.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Work it to Wade

Barry Stavro

Los Angeles Times

Kobe Bryant has slowed a bit, lost some elevation and relies more on his strength, spins and fall-aways to get off his shots.

Ray Allen remains unmatched in catch-and-shoot moments, but when he has to start a play from scratch, the results aren't as good.

LeBron James is a pure runaway freight train on a fast break, but his post-up game isn't highlight material.

So who gets the rock?

Dwyane Wade.

He dunks better than any guard in the league, is used to shooting with two or three guys hanging on him, has the most dangerous crossover move in the league, can draw fouls and can hit free-throws.

Give him the ball — and clear out.

bstavro@tribune.com

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