Great players are often judged by their ability to make big shots for their teams when needed. Iconic NBA legends such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have been recognized as players who love the big moments and most often, they came through for their teams.
Looking at the 2021 season, we have a host of All-Star players who are very effective in the clutch. By scouting the current crop of NBA stars, we have compiled a list of the most clutch players in the entire league. Here are the 10 most clutch NBA players in the league right now.
Jamal Murray just misses out on the list despite being a supremely gifted knockdown shooter, and his scoring ability around the rim is just as good. Murray has a chance to climb this list in due time, but he is still one of the most feared players in the NBA with the game on the line. Murray’s big shot against the Charlotte Hornets last season was a beautiful example of what to expect this season.
10. Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum has arrived ladies and gentlemen. Tatum’s game-winner over the MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the opening game of the 2021 season will be an example of what Tatum can do for the Boston Celtics. Tatum is one of the best young players in the NBA and the fact that he appears on this list already is a testament to his prospective greatness. Tatum’s past training with Kobe Bryant might be paying off because Tatum will soon become one of the most clutch players of all time.
9. LeBron James
The King is not only the best player in the NBA but one of the most clutch players in NBA history. While LeBron often passes up the final shots of games, he is the best person to have the ball in his hands in crunch time because of his basketball IQ. James will almost certainly find a teammate for a good shot to win a game and doesn’t mind being the playmaker to get it done. LeBron had an assortment of clutch players throughout his career but his deep three over Dwight Howard was his greatest game-winning play yet.
8. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is a legendary playmaker and leader, but he is also a legendary finisher in the clutch. Paul is very gritty and clever around the rim and can score despite taking a hit. But Paul’s mid-range game might be his greatest skill and he is absolutely money from that range. Chris Paul’s iconic game-winner over Tim Duncan in the 2015 NBA playoffs is an example of Paul’s ability in the clutch.
7. James Harden
The Beard is one of the best scorers in NBA history. Despite the criticism he receives for inconsistent play in the postseason, Harden is undeniably a top-10 player in the clutch. His ability to score the ball and get to the rim or the free-throw line means he must be double or triple-teamed with the game on the line. As the best one on one scorer today, teams should scramble to force other players to beat them instead of the 3-time scoring champion.
6. Kawhi Leonard
Superstar Kawhi Leonard is a magical player on both ends of the floor. In terms of two-way play, Kawhi might be the best in the league because he has used his skills to win 2 Finals MVPs in his career. Kawhi Leonard can get it done on both offense and defense, meaning he is one of the most clutch stars in NBA history. Kawhi Leonard’s game-winner against the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 might be the greatest clutch shot in playoff history.
5. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic will be the face of the NBA in due time but he is already one of the best players in the clutch. Doncic was born to play basketball because he does everything well on the floor and can either create for himself or his teammates in clutch situations. Doncic is an offensive monster who can finish inside or nail shots from outside, meaning he cannot be handled when he wants to get his shot off in the clutch. Luka hit a big-time clutch 3 last season against the Clippers which was just plain nasty.
4. Stephen Curry
There wouldn’t be an all-time great clutch list without the best shooter in NBA history. Curry’s phenomenal 43.4% 3-point average means he can get 3 points on the board for his team to normally win tight games. Stephen Curry’s shooting is the main reason he is a problem in the clutch because his accuracy is the most lethal ever. Stephen Curry has a range of big-time shots but his game-winner over Russell Westbrook from 32 feet might be the most memorable.
3. Kevin Durant
No surprise, arguably the game’s best scorer at the forward position, Kevin Durant appears on this list. Durant’s 7-foot plus wingspan means that he can shoot over any defender in the NBA and get a good shot off every time. If there is one superstar player that opposing coaches fear most, it’s Kevin Durant because you can’t prepare for a player like him. He is too skilled and too tall to handle, and his falling away game-winner against Dallas in 2011 is a small example of what Durant can do.
2. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving might receive criticism for his on and off the court personality, but he’s actually one of the very best players in the clutch. Kyrie Irving has made a living by his dominant play with the ball and is therefore a very scary player to play against with the game on the line. Kyrie is great at creating his own shot and can knock down shots despite tough defense. Irving’s Game 7 shot over Stephen Curry in 2016 remains the most clutch shot in NBA Finals history.
1. Damian Lillard
Without a doubt, Damian Lillard is the most clutch player in the NBA. His deep range shooting is his key asset and he shot an excellent 40.1% from deep last season. Lillard’s offensive ability might be the best in the NBA at the point guard position, and he strikes fear in the hearts of opponents. His clutch game-winner against the Houston Rockets in Game 6 in 2014, and also the shot that sent Russell Westbrook and the Thunder home in 2019 are examples of what Dame Time can feel like.