After the incredible Cavs thriller in San Antonio, a new question has been raised. Who, come playoff time, is most trusted to take the final shot? Is it LeBron, per usual? Kyrie on the rise? Or another unsuspecting member of the team? Here’s my take:

The case for LeBron:






He’s a two-time NBA champion, and he’s also won four MVP’s. King James is still the best player in the league, and he continues to dominate night in and night out as the fearless leader of the Cavs. His most heroic shot was in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals versus the Magic. When, with just one second left he hit a game winning three to salvage the Cavs’ chances by deflating an incredible comeback by the road blues. It was an amazing moment.

That being said, LeBron does tend to settle for tough jump shots at the end of games. For his career, he is 17/50 in game winning shots. That’s 34% compared to the league average of just under 30%. While he has improved over the years, it’s still not a guarantee. It’s very frustrating to watch LeBron pound the ball for twenty seconds until missing a bad jumper.I’d like to see him try and attach the basket to win more games, though.

Even so, King James has the ability to drill that winning shot from any spot on the floor.

Confidence – 7/10


The case for Kyrie:







Some of the intangibles Kyrie possesses are way better than what LeBron carries. In the final seconds of the game, I’m more confident that Irving will create and make the shot in the last seconds. Against the Spurs, he proved just how unbelievable a player he is.

Over the course of his career with the Cavs, sans LeBron, Irving has hit many game winning shots – Boston, Charlotte, Denver and Toronto to name a few. He’s got one of the purest strokes in the game, and his handles get him past any defender of the same.

Some players just have the touch, and Kyrie is no exception.

Confidence – 9/10


The case for Kevin:






So if Kyrie is covered and LeBron actually decides to pass the ball during those closing seconds, then Kevin Love is a serviceable option (if he was in the game for the 4th quarter). He’s made a few game winning shots during his Timberwolve days, including a buzzer-beater three to beat the Clippers a few years ago. Love has the ability to shoot the long ball. He stretches the floor well making a pass from Kyrie or LeBron to the corner very possible. Even though he doesn’t like the term “stretch-four,” that’s exactly what he is.

A wide open three by Love or a contested layup by LeBron or Kyrie? Which would you choose?

Confidence – 5/10


 The case for any other member of the team:







If a team is destined for a championship, any member of the squad must be ready to make big shots. While it’s unlikely that a play would ever be drawn up for someone else besides a member of the big three, there are many times when a play break down, there’s an offensive rebound or even a trap. The ball could end up in someone’s hands that wouldn’t be the first choice to drill the shot coming out of the crucial timeout.

Say Tristan Thompson grabs an offensive rebound, or James Jones takes a pass in the corner from LeBron when the lane gets clogged. Or Brendan Haywood…just kidding. There is a certain level of confidence I have with the members of the team that have a chance to be in during the final possession of a game (with the way the rotation is now) – Big 3 + Smith, Shumpert, Jones, Mozgov. That confidence is that with the ball positioning them in the right place, any of those guys could connect on a shot. But, it’s not their job.

In LeBron’s first stint with the Cavs, there was very little confidence in anyone else but the King himself.

Confidence – 3/10

The final shot can either win or lose a game, a series or even a title. It’s important that whomever is shooting has the confidence to knock it down. Egos aside, if I’m the coach I’m drawing up a play for Kyrie Irving to shoot the game winner while using LeBron as a decoy. Irving has proven to be clutch ever since his rookie season, and he continues to shine when he’s needed most. For examples – the Spurs game is why I want Kyrie and the recent Rockets loss is why I don’t want LeBron. Even so, either is obviously a viable option. Go Cavs!

-Zach Shafron

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