Steve Blake Was The Right ChoiceMay 17
Last night, Metta World Peace (MWP / Ron Artest) made what I thought was a great inbounds pass. Although the play drawn up by the Lakers staff was clearly designed to get Kobe Bryant a jumpshot to win the game, MWP instead saw a wide open sharpshooter named Steve Blake alone in the right corner. Without hesitation, he passed the ball to Blake who missed the shot; hysteria commenced, and now everyone is second guessing his decision. However, from a pure probability standpoint, I would argue MWP made the exact right choice.
Steve Blake made 15 of 29 shots from the right corner this season. Although this is a small sample, he shot over 50% from there. Last season he shot 45% from that spot. The Lakers paid him 4,000,000 dollars this season in part because he can make that exact shot. When Steve Kerr and/or John Paxson were in similar roles for the 1990s Chicago Bulls, they were called upon in key situations to shoot these same kind of shots.
Let’s imagine for a moment that MWP had delivered the ball to Kobe instead. Kobe would have received the ball somewhere near the left elbow (insert MWP elbow joke here) with 4 seconds to play. Within one or two steps, Kobe would have probably risen up for a jumper somewhere on the left side within the midrange areas. He can make these shots; he does it all the time. However, from a statistical standpoint there was no shot he could’ve gotten (assuming OKC could stop him from getting to the rim) that would’ve been better than Blake’s.
Furthermore ESPN ran a stat this morning that said Kobe is 0-10 in the playoffs in these exact situations dating back to 2007. This was shocking to me, but also, consider that in the “Artest” era in LA, Kobe hasn’t made these “black mamba” shots in the playoffs. This also could have factored into MWP’s decision to pass to Blake. Plus, Kobe was covered pretty well!
Now obviously, these shooting stats don’t take into account nerves, which is a valid counter-argument. However, if you’re going to win the championship, at some point one or two of your “role players” are going to have to make these types of shots.