Yesterday we established that Tony Parker, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson, Dirk Nowitzki and Al Jefferson were the go-to guys for their Western Conference team. What that really means is that there are only five, maybe six teams that have legitimate go-to guys in the Western Conference. Jefferson, Lawson and maybe even Gay aren’t consistent enough at this point in their careers to be trusted game in and game out as the guy to take the game-winning shot.
Maybe the Eastern Conference will fair better.
1. Chicago Bulls: 48-16
Go-to guy: Derrick Rose
This is a no brainer as Rose is the reigning MVP and only legitimate all-star on the roster. Chicago’s playoff run solely depends upon him.
2. Miami Heat: 46-18
Go-to guy: LeBron James
Dwayne Wade is right at his heels though. In fact he may be the better clutch guy of the two, but LeBron is having one of the best NBA seasons of all time. But this debate isn’t over and will probably go on late into the playoffs.
3. Indiana Pacers: 41-23
Go-to guy: Danny Granger (by default)
Indiana is in the same position as the Grizzlies. They have a well balanced team but no superstar. Granger is the next tier of NBA player. He’s in the same category as Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay and even Joe Johnson. He’s a very good player but probably not capable of being the go-to guy for the playoffs.
4. Boston Celtics: 37-27
Go-to guy: Paul Pierce
It has to be Pierce. Rondo may be the best player in the team but he can’t hit jumpers consistently enough to fill that role yet, KG hasn’t been that guy for at least three years, and Ray Allen isn’t even a starter anymore. Pierce has at least one more playoff run in him and I think the Celtics can make some serious noise with #34 leading them in the final minutes.
5. Atlanta Hawks: 38-26
Go-to guy: Josh Smith
This was a tough call between Smith and Joe Johnson but if you look at the numbers Smith outproduces Johnson in almost every category. Smith is not just capable of taking over on the offensive end but the defensive end as well. Smith is eighth in the league in blocks per game and 18th in steals per game.
6. Orlando Magic: 36-28
Go-to guy: Ryan Anderson
With Dwight out it leaves Anderson as the go-to guy for the struggling Magic. He’s capable of putting up big numbers as evident by his 26 point 16 rebound game last week against the 76ers, but he’s not your typical closer.
7. New York Knicks: 34-30
Go-to guy: Carmelo Anthony
Averaging 31 points in the month of April shows just how important this guy is to the Knicks. With Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire vacant from the lineup Anthony took over and kept his team afloat in the Eastern Conference. Anthony has been just plain scary for defenders and could be a headache for the Knicks’ first round opponent.
8. Philadelphia 76ers: 33-30
Go-to guy: Lou Williams
The 76ers have free fell in the last few weeks and looked to be in danger of missing the playoffs for a while. The lack of a go-to guy has certainly hurt them this season but Williams has done his best to contribute late in games. The interesting thing about the leading scorer for the 76ers is that he hasn’t started a game all year. This shows the impact that Williams can have in limited minutes.
There are really only four legitimate go-to guys on this list. Rose, James, Pierce and Anthony are some of the best in the game today, Granger and Smith are tweeners at best, and Anderson and Williams just can’t cut it. So when the game’s online look for the Bulls, Heat, Celtics and Knicks to be a good position compared to the other four teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs.