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NBA Clutch Players

We've touched on the subject before of what players have been succeeding in the clutch moments of games (which we have arbitrarily defined as the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, where neither team was ahead by more than five points), but this time we'll go beyond simple "shooting/scoring" analysis to look at various aspects of the game.

(All stats reflect games played through February 24th of the 2003-2004 season, and generally we require a player to have a minimum of 30 minutes of clutch playing time on the year.)

1) NBA Top Plus/Minus in Clutch Situations
Rank
Player
Team
+/-
1
 Prince
DET
+69
2
 Cassell
MIN
+66
3
 Garnett
MIN
+60
4
 Billups
DET
+59
5
 Miller
IND
+59
6
 O'Neal
IND
+58
7
 Payton
LAL
+57
8
 Posey
MEM
+51
9
 WallaceB
DET
+49
10
 George
LAL
+49
11
 Stojakovic
SAC
+49
12
 Sprewell
MIN
+47
13
 Hamilton
DET
+46
14
 Hassell
MIN
+45
15
 Christie
SAC
+44
16
 Artest
IND
+43
17
 Miller
SAC
+43
18
 Gasol
MEM
+42
19
 Smith
MIL
+41
20
 Divac
SAC
+36

Not surprisingly, the list is dominated by players on some of the top teams in the league, as even though the number of games that reach a "clutch" stage varies by team, there's little doubt that the squads with good records generally win more than their fair share of the close ones.

While the Pistons may feel good about landing Rasheed Wallace, they have done well in the most telling moments all season long, and Tayshaun Prince emerges as the current leader in on court plus/minus during our specified clutch constraints.

Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell are just a step behind, with two more Timberwolves teammates in the top twenty. And of coursee, the "never better than when under pressure" Reggie Miller still shines, coming in currently at the #5 spot.

2) Top Clutch Rebounders
Player
Team
Off%
Def%
Tm%
Rtg
 Ostertag
UTA
22%
13%
57%
92.5
 Wallace
DET
12%
23%
57%
92.4
 Cardinal
GSW
8%
25%
59%
92.1
 Camby
DEN
14%
27%
50%
91.1
 Mutombo
NYK
15%
22%
51%
87.7
 Davis
CHI
13%
25%
50%
87.5
 O'Neal
LAL
11%
23%
52%
86.4
 Kaman
LAC
10%
22%
53%
85.2
 Murray
TOR
5%
22%
58%
85.1
 Harpring
UTA
9%
17%
59%
85.1

If you go simply by the player's own rebounds divided by chances (balanced for offense versus defense), then the current order is Camby, Antonio Davis, Mutombo, and Ben Wallace.

However, if you include the team rebounding % while the player is on the court (thus factoring in boxing out skills, tips to teammates, etc) the top player so far has been Greg Ostertag who is doubly dangerous on the offensive glass.

3) Passing "In The Clutch"
Player
Team
Ast
T/O
A48
Rtg
 Daniels
SEA
11
1
9.1
20.1
 Bibby
SAC
12
1
5.5
17.5
 Johnson
IND
11
2
9.7
15.2
 Payton
LAL
10
1
5.2
15.2
 Nash
DAL
22
5
9.9
14.3
 Jaric
LAC
10
2
7.7
12.7
 Divac
SAC
15
4
8.9
12.7
 Jones
MIL
11
3
8.9
12.6
 Cassell
MIN
20
4
7.4
12.4
 Artest
IND
13
2
5.9
12.4
Trying to conjure up some kind of passing rating in clutch moments is tricky in light of the small sample sizes we're dealing with, however the "Rating" to the left takes the "assists per 48 minutes" and adds it to the assist/turnover ratio.

As such, Antonio Daniels comes first, but there's no shortage of players contributing assists at a good rate while keeping turnovers low. Indeed Divac, Artest and other non-point guards deserve accolades.

4) Offensive Points per 100 Possessions
We could sort players on all kinds of clutch stats (Field Goal %, Shots attempted per 48 minutes of clutch playing time, foul drawing numbers, etc), but to get to some kind of summary we'll use a complicated formula that takes into account the player's own shots, including how often they were assisted, his passing, his free throw shooting, and his turnovers and offensive rebounds. We required 25 possessions to qualify for the "big chart."

Notes: eFG = "effective field goal percentage" adjusted for 3pt shots made, A'd = % of made field goals that were assisted, OR = offensive rebounds.

Rk
Player
Team
Rtg
FGM
FGA
FG%
3pt
eFG
A'd
FTM
FTA
FT%
Ast
T/O
OR
1
 Boozer
CLE
168.1
17
28
61%
0
61%
88%
25
29
86%
2
3
8
2
 Miller
SAC
152.1
13
25
52%
1
54%
46%
15
22
68%
9
2
8
3
 Johnson
IND
152.0
10
18
56%
6
72%
60%
10
10
100%
11
2
0
4
 Posey
MEM
148.9
9
24
38%
3
44%
56%
21
25
84%
2
1
7
5
 Ming
HOU
144.2
23
28
82%
0
82%
43%
25
35
71%
7
13
6
6
 Arroyo
UTA
143.2
10
21
48%
1
50%
10%
27
30
90%
7
1
0
7
 Stojakovic
SAC
132.9
21
44
48%
5
53%
62%
35
36
97%
0
4
2
8
 Cassell
MIN
131.8
26
61
43%
11
52%
38%
54
62
87%
20
4
0
9
 Payton
LAL
131.6
15
31
48%
5
57%
53%
20
25
80%
10
1
0
10
 Hughes
WAS
130.3
17
36
47%
2
50%
29%
22
23
96%
2
6
7
11
 Abdur-Rahim
ATL
130.2
30
56
54%
2
55%
47%
23
23
100%
4
6
7
12
 James
BOS
130.0
17
37
46%
12
62%
76%
13
16
81%
4
3
2
13
 Howard
ORL
128.5
20
39
51%
1
53%
70%
21
27
78%
1
7
10
14
 Anthony
DEN
127.5
18
42
43%
4
48%
72%
23
31
74%
4
2
8
15
 Randolph
POR
126.6
24
46
52%
0
52%
75%
24
29
83%
7
11
13
16
 Kirilenko
UTA
126.4
14
25
56%
5
66%
57%
14
19
74%
3
8
4
17
 Artest
IND
125.3
16
32
50%
2
53%
44%
23
33
70%
13
2
1
18
 O'Neal
LAL
124.9
15
30
50%
1
52%
60%
14
27
52%
7
5
10
19
 Bibby
SAC
124.2
16
43
37%
8
47%
63%
27
33
82%
12
1
3
20
 Radmanovic
SEA
122.8
16
37
43%
10
57%
81%
6
8
75%
6
0
2
21
 Redd
MIL
121.2
26
60
43%
7
49%
54%
31
37
84%
3
6
8
22
 Armstrong
NOH
120.5
16
30
53%
8
67%
69%
7
10
70%
11
11
6
23
 Gasol
MEM
118.1
26
47
55%
0
55%
42%
30
44
68%
5
11
7
24
 Garnett
MIN
117.3
35
74
47%
2
49%
54%
19
24
79%
12
3
10
25
 Nash
DAL
116.2
17
40
43%
4
48%
35%
20
23
87%
22
5
2
26
 Miller
IND
115.2
12
35
34%
10
49%
92%
20
24
83%
9
3
1
27
 Rose
TOR
112.6
13
25
52%
4
60%
46%
10
13
77%
4
5
0
28
 Billups
DET
112.0
34
90
38%
16
47%
38%
47
56
84%
22
10
4
29
 Allen
SEA
111.9
22
48
46%
7
53%
41%
10
13
77%
7
5
4
30
 Miller
DEN
111.7
13
38
34%
1
36%
31%
31
38
82%
12
4
4

One of the drawbacks to the points per possession ratings for individual players is how to deal with offensive rebounds. On the one hand they do represent a "saved possession" and so it can be argued should be treated as a "-1" for the player's possession count, on the other hand there's a chance that a teammate would have got the rebound if the player didn't, and the opportunity for a rebound is dependent on a shot being attempted in the first place. The drawback comes because good big men often get possibly inflated ratings as a result of their ability to grab these missed shots.

Still, while Carlos Boozer does benefit from hitting the offensive glass (and how many players are drawn out to guard LeBron?), he has hit 61% of his shots, got to the line for over one freebie per field goal attempt (and converted an outstanding 86%), all the while keeping his turnovers to a minimum. He deserves top billing for efficiency at the present time, even if he isn't the go-to guy.

Brad Miller is slightly more suspect in that he gets a bigger boost from the offensive rebounding, combined with some deft passing. Then we have the little known Anthony Johnson of the Pacers, who has shown a great knack for making plays in crucial minutes, hitting threes, calmly sinking free throws, and doling out assists with aplomb.

It's also worth noticing Yao Ming's incredible 82% field goal rate! Shaq meanwhile would jump to #8 in the league if he could hit free throws at say a 74% proficiency level, and would no doubt see more touches.

There's a lot of numbers to digest here however, and we will look to post a sortable table with even more of the players at a later date. You also may be wondering about which players are the top defensive clutch performers...well, we're working on it!


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