free NBA basketball picks
Home | Teams/Players | Commentary | Premium Services | Contact Us

Random Stat: Game Winning Shots

UPDATED by Popular Demand: 4/13/2006!

Q: I'm pretty sure you guys would keep track of this stat but I can't seem to find it. Game winning shots. Could you send me a link of it to me if you do. -- christaki22

A: This suggestion comes up a lot, but there's really one main issue -- what exactly do we want to define as a game winning shot? If we make it too restrictive, as in a real last second shot at the buzzer, then you are dealing with tiny, tiny sample sizes. So instead, we'd propose the following filter:

Game Winning Shot Opportunity = 24 seconds or less left in the game, team with the ball is either tied or down by 1 to 2 points.

Why use this definition?

  1. With 24 seconds or less, then it truly is a "last possession" situation potentially
  2. With a margin from tied to down 2, the team can take the lead with a made basket (including 3's)
  3. By excluding a down 3 situation, we don't have the "gimme two point buckets" that defenses will sometimes yield to the quick bucket/intentional foul strategy option you often see exercised.
Obviously though this definition means a shot may not actually be a game winner -- it may only tie a game (if down two points) or it may allow enough time for the opponents to get a game winning shot of their own. Still it seems a reasonable compromise.

Data sample
2003-04 Regular Season games
2003-04 Playoff games
2004-05 Regular Season games
2004-05 Playoff games
2005-06 Regular Season games (to April 12th)

Leading "Game Winning Shot" Players
 League Wide 438  1500 
303  420  191  139 
 Carmelo Anthony 11  17 
 Ray Allen 18 
 Michael Redd 19 
 Steve Francis 20 
 Allen Iverson 20 
 Joe Johnson 23 
 Tracy McGrady 23 
 Vince Carter 31 
 Ben Gordon 13 
 Dirk Nowitzki 19 
 Paul Pierce 20 
 Kobe Bryant 32 
 Jalen Rose 10 
 Derek Fisher 12 
 Pau Gasol 12 
 Damon Stoudamire 12 
 Tim Duncan 13 
 Ricky Davis 16 
 Dwyane Wade 17 
 Jamal Crawford 19 
 Damon Jones
 Zach Randolph
 Richard Hamilton 10 
 Antawn Jamison 10 
 Jason Terry 13 
 Gilbert Arenas 16 
 Mike Bibby 16 
 Chris Webber 17 
 Kevin Garnett 21 
 Chauncey Billups 26 
11  12 
 P.J. Brown
 Yao Ming
 Tony Parker
 Richard Jefferson 10 
 Shawn Marion 10 
 Baron Davis 13 
 Mike James 13 
 Rasheed Wallace 18 
 LeBron James 19 

...other Notable Players
 Ron Artest
 Jason Richardson 20 
 Shaquille O'Neal
 Chris Bosh
 Rashard Lewis 11 
 Jermaine O'Neal 14 
 Elton Brand
 Corey Maggette 11 
 Stephon Marbury 12 
 Steve Nash 15 
 Sam Cassell

The first thing to note is that these types of shots are very difficult on a league wide basis: a .292 Field Goal percentage doesn't exactly inspire confidence!

Part of this is that game winning chances may come with just a couple of seconds or less remaining in the game from the inbounds. So manufacturing any shot at all in some cases is to the player's credit.

Carmelo Anthony has not only delivered the most "game winning/tying buckets" in the final moments, he's also done it at a rate that's over twice the NBA average!

Kobe Bryant meanwhile has indeed had seven such made shots over the past three seasons (including playoffs), but at a pretty low conversion rate, even factoring in his free throws.

The other thing with Kobe and a number of go-to guys is that they are not looking to pass the ball! Zero assists in these "final possession" states for Bryant with 32 shots taken (the most for any player with zero assists) says something.

Paul Pierce is one of the few star scorers who also dole out assists in the waning moments, with a nice balance of made baskets, free throws, and five dimes.

LeBron James has had some game winners lately to reach the bottom of the leader list, but there are notable players who haven't had the "qualifying" four game winning baskets.

Steve Nash does lead the NBA during this timeframe in most assists leading to game winning/tying baskets. His own shot however has not been falling.

The Clippers may also want to avoid letting it come down to the wire -- neither Brand, Maggette or Cassell have been making the shots at the very end over the past three seasons.

Now if you tweak the settings slightly, say look at the last minute and +/- 3 points max, then some players see dramatic changes...this is the problem with turning a microscope on rare situations!

Onwards and upwards. Other facts of interest --

Leaders in Free Throw attempts:
Billups 12, Pierce 10, Nowitzki 10, Bryant 9

Most game winning/tying shots that were blocked:
Carter 4, Magloire 4, Allen 4

Most game winning/tying baskets that were assisted:
Redd 5, Anthony 5, Fisher 5

Most unassisted game winning/tying baskets:
Joe Johnson 8, McGrady 7, Pierce 7, Nowitzki 7

Ultimately while this kind of thing is fun, it's not to our minds particularly meaningful, other than indicating that the league as a whole could probably get more efficient in "end game" easy place to start might be to try and be less predictable! It's nice to have a go-to guy, but when the other team knows without much doubt that a certain guy is getting the ball, it is going to be a lot easier to defend!

Of the ten players with 20+ FGA in these situations five were shooting under .300, and none better than .400, whereas classic second/third option guys like Fisher, Damon Jones, and Jamison were highly effective.

So instead of "does my team have a great clutch go-to guy" you might want to ask do we have a plan B?

For better quality analysis of clutch play, we use a filter of "last five minutes of fourth quarter/overtime, with neither team ahead by more than five points." Each player has a page for the stats accrued under these circumstances, eg see Kobe Bryant in the clutch.

Do you have an idea for a cool "random stat" you would like to see? If so, drop us a line

Random Stat Archive
"Hot Hand" -- Streak Shooting (4/10)
Clutch Free Throw Shooting (4/05)
Stolen Passes (4/03)
Most Dunks (3/28)
Does the team scoring first in OT usually win? (3/27)
How often does bad FT% cost a team a win? (3/24)
Alley Oop Leaders (3/22)
Game Winning Shots (updated 3/17)
Who get called for Traveling? (3/13)
Technical Free Throws (3/10)
Two Way Players (3/08)
Jump Ball winning % (3/07)
"At the Rim" Shots (3/05)
Team Quarter by Quarter results (2/23)
Points per FGA (2/21)
Player Assisted% on FGM (2/15)
Types of Turnovers (2/12)
Goaltending "Leaders" (2/10)
Shot Clock Studs (2/09)
Team Starter/Bench stats (2/07)
Free Throw shooting home versus away (2/04)
Who gets their shot blocked the most? (2/03)
Plus/Minus stats over the last 30 days (2/02)
What percentage of the time has each team been leading? (2/01)

Rate this Feature
Poor   Fair   Good   Excellent

Enter your comments in the box

Email (optional)

We want your feedback! Contact Us

Copyright 2005-06 by, All Rights Reserved