Kleeman’s Jump Hook: The NBA’s 10 Best Closers Not Named Kobe Bryant

March 25th, 2010 by Robert Kleeman Leave a reply »
In baseball, a team with a late lead asks its closer to take the mound and pitch a shutout inning or two. In pro football, a quarterback usually leads the winning charge, driving his team down the field with accurate throws for first downs. A kicker can also ice a game with one fluid motion of his foot. In basketball, a closer is asked to perform a variety of tasks—from putting the round ball into the hole, to suffocating an opponent on the defensive end. Many of the NBA's best closers make an impact on both ends of the floor. Since reigning Finals MVP Kobe Bryant would be the obvious choice to headline this list, given his lengthy resume and his six game-winners this season, I excluded him from the conversation. The question is simple. Down 10 in the fourth quarter, which 10 players could I count on to erase the deficit and deliver a "W?" I ommitted top scorers on lousy lottery squads and budding, and would-be All-Stars like Aaron Brooks, who have not mastered the art of NBA closure. I also limited the conversation to one player per outfit. You won't see both Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford or Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups on here. Also note that my choices are ...

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