Welcome to Building The Perfect NBA Player Part X: Big Game Experience. This is the final installment of a 10-part series in which we’ll be building an NBA player from scratch, using 10 different categories to build our player. If you want to keep an eye out for the other parts, check out the “Building” homepage.
Why Do We Need Experience?
Simply put, there is no substitute for experience. While players work tirelessly in the gym to improve their games, they cannot do anything to accurately replicate real big game situations. Scrimmages and regular season games don’t have the kind of intensity and pressure associated with the usual insane playoff atmosphere.
Our player needs to have a ton of big game experience. Winning is a must, as losing can teach a lot, but not as much as winning. Players learn how to win and how to carry themselves as true superstars because of their experience winning big games. It may be unfair, but we categorize players based on their ability to win championships. You can be sure our player will have won a title. Let’s get to the candidates.
Really, we could have put Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on the list next to Duncan. Regardless, it’s Duncan that is No. 6 in NBA history with 211 playoff games played. He’s a four-time NBA champion, winning three Finals MVP’s. Perhaps most importantly, Duncan raises his game when the spotlight shines the brightest. His career regular-season averages of 20.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks are impressive, but his playoff averages of 21.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks are legendary.
Bryant is No. 4 in NBA history in playoff games with 220, behind only Robert Horry (244), Derek Fisher (240) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (237). Bryant has won five NBA championships, but surprisingly has taken home the Finals MVP only twice. There’s no question that Bryant is one of the most lethal offensive forces in the history of the NBA and his career playoff averages of 25.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals back that up.
Nobody has played in more big games over the last three years than James. He’s played in three straight NBA Finals (winning two plus two MVP’s), won Olympic Gold and gets the best effort from every opponent every night. One thing many fail to realize is how much teams want to beat James and the Miami Heat. They get opponents that are 100 percent focused and fired up every single game. A quick note: James has played in more playoff games (138) than Paul Pierce (136), Elgin Baylor (134) and Charles Barkley (123).
At 151 games, Allen has played in his share of big games. He’s now a two-time NBA champion and is still the 3-point shooting king of the NBA. Because of his experience, he doesn’t think twice when it’s time to step up and hit a big shot. Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals showed that Allen still has it. He used his instincts to take steps back (without looking down) to ensure he could hit the biggest three of the season for the Miami Heat. Allen isn’t as decorated as the others, but his career playoff shooting line of .445/.403/.881 shows he belongs.
Billups has fallen off in recent years, due to age and injury. Still, his moniker of “Mr. Big Shot” holds true because of the plethora of big shots he’s hit throughout his NBA career. Billups has won just one NBA championship (and was MVP of those Finals). Billups played a remarkable 113 playoff games in a span of six seasons with the Detroit Pistons from 2003 through 2009. His averages (despite two recent poor showings) are still a respectable 17.3 points and 5.7 assists per game.