That being said, when was the last time you saw a game winning layup? Sure, LeBron has had a few — most notably when he was still a Cavalier playing against the Washington Wizards in the playoffs. Usually, a game-winning shot is from that inefficient area between the hoop and the arc. Now if you’re down three, and you have one more chance at it, Durant is again your choice because he’s a better three-point shooter, but if you’re just down two, or one, the midrange shot is the most likely to occur. As you’ve probably already guessed, Durant is a better midrange shooter, hitting over 47 percent of his midrange shots while LeBron shoots just 40.5 percent.
But what about fouls, since one of the only ways to stop LeBron from getting to the rim is to foul him? Again, Durant is superior, and by a larger degree than either midrange shots or three-pointers. Durant is better than 90 percent from the line this season even though he’s averaging almost nine attempts a game. Conversely, LeBron is shooting 73 percent from the line and he’s getting there less than he did last season (6.6 attempts per game vs. 8.1 last season). Before some recent improvements, LeBron was actually under the league average of 70 percent in the beginning of the season. So Durant wins the free-throw battle as well.
Listen, we’re not trying to say Durant is a better player than James. Part of the reason LeBron got so many looks at the rim last night, and throughout this season and last, is the way he and his Heat teammates — when they’re dialed in (which isn’t as consistent as Miami coach Erik Spoelstra would like)–have forced so many turnovers, which lead to easy transition dunks and layups at the rim. In fact, they started last night with four consecutive dunks after forcing the Lakers into 16 first half turnovers. LeBron’s ability to defend four positions and hassle opposing ball handlers with that deadly trap on the high screen and roll, plus his vision on offense, make him a better all around player than Durant.
But with the game on the line and with only one shot attempt at victory, Durant is a better option. He’s on pace to become just the eighth player since the inclusion of the 3-point line, to shoot 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range, and 90 percent from the free throw line. Plus, his usage numbers are just as high as LeBron’s. You can read more about Durant’s stunning offensive success this season from Zach Lowe, but it’s pretty clear from the evidence above, he’s the better option for the last shot.
What do you think?
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