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

The NBA's best clutch scorers
as of 01/01/2004

There's a theory that the first three quarters of an NBA game bear little resemblance to the action of a close game down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Defenses get tighter and more physical, the fastbreak baskets of the early going become a distant memory as grinding halfcourt sets take over, and under pressure some players fold while others come to life.

Any basketball fan worth his hops loves watching a close game in the waning minutes. A task for us number crunchers to investigate, is which players excel when games are on the line?

First up are the shooters. Please note that in all cases we define clutch moments in a game as those in the fourth quarter or overtime when neither team has a lead of more than five points.

1) Effective Field Goal Percentage
The casual NBA fan would probably start and stop any analysis with points scored, but we are NBA stat junkies. That and we don't think pure points per minute gets at who is ultimately the best crunchtime scorer. A selfish player who elects to take all the shots (even ill-advised ones) might put up some numbers without actually helping his team.

Effective Field Goal percentage is better than a straight FG% since it adjusts for three-point shots using this formula: eFG = FG Points / (FGA x 2)
#
Player
Team
FGM
FGA
FG%
eFG%
1
Miller
IND
13
27
48%
72%
2
Kirilenko
UTA
19
31
61%
66%
3
Ming
HOU
19
29
66%
66%
4
Armstrong
NOH
20
40
50%
64%
5
Dampier
GSW
14
22
64%
64%
6
Johnson
IND
16
30
53%
63%
7
Williams
MEM
11
23
48%
63%
8
Taylor
HOU
21
34
62%
62%
9
James
BOS
20
43
47%
62%
10
Houston
NYK
34
63
54%
60%
11
Lenard
DEN
11
23
48%
59%
12
Wesley
NOH
17
37
46%
58%
13
Jamison
DAL
18
31
58%
58%
14
Stoudamire
POR
20
42
48%
57%
15
Bell
UTA
25
50
50%
57%
16
Stojakovic
SAC
25
52
48%
57%
17
Richardson
LAC
12
23
52%
57%
18
Radmanovic
SEA
14
33
42%
56%
19
Hughes
WAS
25
47
53%
55%
20
Rose
TOR
14
31
45%
55%
Minimum: 20 FGA
What do you know! Legendary clutch shooter Reggie Miller has the highest eFG so far in the 03-04 season, at a whopping 72%. Amazingly, all of Reggie's made buckets have been 3's. The Pacers have a number of good options in crunch-time: PG Anthony Johnson is #6 in the league, and Artest is #21 at 55%. While Jermaine O'Neal has only hit 39% of his clutch shots, he's clearly drawing the defense and leaving the outside shooters open.

Andrei Kirilenko shows up in yet another stat leader category, adding fuel to his MVP credentials. He has also hit 23 of 27 clutch time free throws (85%) and drawn fouls on over 22% of his shot attempts.

Yao Ming has shown a nice touch in critical moments, although he doesn't get the ball enough (but does draw fouls on 31% of his attempts).

What we're seeing in the table above though is that it's dominated not by the top 20 scorers overall, but more the second and third options on teams, who benefit from the defenses being so focused on the go-to guy that their are open shots available. Stoyakovic does crack the top twenty and currently ranks as the league's #2 scorer overall, and league #15 Houston also maintains an excellent "in the clutch" eFG percentage.

2) Points per 100 Possession
The number that many NBA sabermetricians are fond of is a player's points per possession. An accepted formula for calculating possessions amounts to Field Goal Attempts minus Offensive Rebounds plus Turnovers plus Free Throw line trips earned. We believe there is some inherent unfairness in this scheme on many levels (i.e. a bad pass costs you, an assist gets you nothing...or giving free possessions to prodigious no-shoot offensive rebounders) that we will be correcting with our own full scale algorithms later on. For now though, we'll stick with the convention.

Minimum: 30 "Possessions"
#
Player
Team
Pts/100
FGM
FGA
eFG%
FTA
FTM
FT%
Ast
T/O
Oreb
1
Bosh
TOR
154
17
40
44%
12
19
63%
5
4
21
2
Kirilenko
UTA
153
19
31
66%
23
27
85%
9
7
7
3
Miller
IND
141
13
27
72%
5
8
63%
6
3
2
4
Taylor
HOU
141
21
34
62%
3
5
60%
3
2
6
5
Hughes
WAS
135
25
47
55%
26
27
96%
4
6
6
6
Stojakovic
SAC
131
25
52
57%
24
24
100%
4
4
2
7
Radmanovic
SEA
129
14
33
56%
7
8
88%
5
1
3
8
Johnson
IND
128
16
30
63%
9
9
100%
14
4
1
9
Anthony
DEN
126
23
53
51%
24
30
80%
8
7
10
10
Randolph
POR
126
27
55
49%
27
31
87%
7
10
13
11
Battier
MEM
126
13
29
53%
11
11
100%
4
4
4
12
James
BOS
125
20
43
62%
11
13
85%
10
5
2
13
Ming
HOU
124
19
29
66%
25
37
68%
7
15
8
14
Gasol
MEM
123
16
32
50%
23
34
68%
4
6
7
15
O'Neal
LAL
121
11
25
46%
17
25
68%
7
4
6
16
Artest
IND
121
16
32
55%
21
28
75%
10
4
1
17
Stoudamire
POR
120
20
42
57%
9
11
82%
18
6
5
18
Garnett
MIN
120
30
64
48%
20
26
77%
12
4
10
19
Armstrong
NOH
118
20
40
64%
8
10
80%
16
11
5
20
Jefferson
NJN
116
14
29
48%
10
17
59%
8
5
8
21
Ginobili
SAS
116
18
38
54%
14
19
74%
15
6
4
22
Bibby
SAC
115
17
42
46%
17
19
89%
7
2
3
23
Miller
DEN
115
13
30
47%
24
31
77%
12
8
5
24
Mason
MIL
115
11
27
41%
19
22
86%
2
3
3
25
Lopez
UTA
114
14
28
54%
14
14
100%
10
6
1
26
Bell
UTA
113
25
50
57%
4
10
40%
5
3
3
27
Abdur-Rahim
ATL
113
21
47
46%
15
16
94%
6
8
10
28
Martin
NJN
113
19
36
54%
6
10
60%
5
5
5
29
Welsch
BOS
111
12
26
52%
10
13
77%
5
6
4
30
Redd
MIL
110
19
51
42%
23
27
85%
5
5
7
31
Mobley
HOU
110
19
40
54%
12
15
80%
9
7
3
32
Prince
DET
109
16
40
45%
11
13
85%
8
7
9
33
Lewis
SEA
108
19
41
50%
11
15
73%
9
6
5
34
Anderson
NYK
108
11
25
50%
9
11
82%
4
5
3
35
Odom
MIA
108
18
47
45%
16
19
84%
10
8
9
36
Houston
NYK
108
34
63
60%
17
18
94%
7
16
1
37
Bryant
LAL
108
25
59
44%
25
31
81%
5
4
4
38
Wesley
NOH
108
17
37
58%
11
13
85%
7
9
1
39
Van Exel
GSW
108
19
41
51%
7
14
50%
15
1
2
40
Howard
ORL
107
24
46
52%
11
15
73%
5
9
6

We'll claim a foul on top-rated Chris Bosh -- sure he's a phenomenal talent, but his numbers in this arena are inflated due to some mighty work on the offensive glass, collecting 21 O Rebounds. Kirilenko gets our vote for top offensive clutch player to this stage of the season.

Under-rated Larry Hughes has been one of the few bright spots for the Wizards this year, while Stoyakovic has the most free throws made without a miss at a perfect 24 for 24.

Zach Randolph is certainly making a case for All-Star status this year, and his clutch play has him as the #10 most efficent offensive player.

Shaq hasn't been up to the level of last year's best clutch player label, but despite a 46% eFG number, since he's doing reasonably well at the line and gets fouled so often he's still a solid option down the stretch.

Finally with this setup you really want to give some extra credit for assists, and we can't overlook Nick Van Exel's incredible 15 assists to 1 turnover performance thus far.

Next time we'll come back with the other side of the coin! A look at the top defensive "in the clutch" players...


Rate this Feature
Poor   Fair   Good   Excellent

Enter your comments in the box

Email (optional)

We want your feedback! Tell us your thoughts

Copyright 2003 by 82games.com, All Rights Reserved