Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard are both lighting up the NBA right now. Almost every night, one of them is showing up on the highlight reels knocking down clutch shots. That led us to ask the question, who takes the game winner, Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard?
Inside the Numbers
Stephen Curry has been taking the NBA by storm since entering the league in 2009. But last postseason, he trademarked the term “heat check”. His ability to score from almost anywhere, especially behind the arc, is well documented. But how does he perform under pressure?
Well, the Golden State Warriors have played 10 games this season where the point margin was five or less with five minutes to go. In those games, Curry is averaging 4.2 ppg in the last five minutes, good for third best in the league. He also is shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 100 percent from the free throw line. The two most revealing stats for Curry are his teams win-loss record in those games, 5-5, and his three point shooting percentage, 31.3. Both of those stats can be attributed to the fact that Golden State often lives or dies on the three point shooting of Curry.
Damian Lillard burst onto the scene last season as a rookie who looked poised and ready to take over point guard duties with the Portland Trailblazers. He has shown a resilience that has catapulted the Blazers to 22-4 record, good for first place in the Northwest Division.
Lillard’s Trailblazers have played 14 games being within five with five minutes to go. Portland is 12-2 in those games and Damian Lillard is a big reason why. As a point guard, he is shooting 50 percent from the field and beyond the three point line. He is only averaging about two shots in the last five minutes of close games but is averaging four points on those two shots! With a 14 game sample, that’s pretty remarkable. His averaging 2.5 assists to every turnover in that time as well. As for ball protection, he is averaging almost no turnovers (.2) while Curry averages half a turnover per close game.
Going strictly by the numbers, it would seem that Lillard has the slight edge because of his decision making. He is capable of putting the ball on the floor and taking it to the hoop when necessary. He averages almost as many points and shoots a better percentage than Curry. Throw in the turnovers and I want the ball in Lillard’s hands.
The eye test is a tie because all game winners are awesome! But keep in mind that Lillard has knocked down four game winners this season!
I love Stephen Curry. He’s one of my favorite guys to in the league to watch. But if I have to choose between Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard to take the last shot, right now, I’m going with Lillard. Who would you choose to take the game winner?