Who is the best players in the NBA in clutch situations? Stephen Curry? James Harden? LeBron James? Kobe Bryant? It probably depends on your definition of clutch although clearly, some players are better at it than others.
Roughly, it’s about playing better than the rest with the game on the line. How much on the line? What time frame? Fourth quarter? Last minute? Last possession? Again, the discussion and arguments take us to different places.
Reddit user russellwestbrick decided to make a very interesting graph that illustrates who is the most efficient player in the league when it comes to taking and making shots in ‘late shot clock’ scenarios: any field goal attempt in which the shot clock is at 7 seconds or less or in which the shot clock is turned off.
There’s also the advanced version, for situations with only 3 seconds left on the shot clock, aka ‘very late shot clock attempts’. The numbers are based on the 2014-2015 NBA season.
So do we learn anything? Probably that if you really don’t have time on your hands, give it to Brandon Knight or J.J. Redick, although they’ve taken very few shots in these situations. LeBron James and James Harden hover around the 45% effective field goal percentage in the ‘very late’ category. Stephen Curry is excellent (50% or better) in both the 3 second and 7 second version.
Kobe Bryant looks bad, at least in last season’s appraisal. DeMar DeRozan, Russell Westbrook and even Kevin Durant, not to mention Andrew Wiggins, could do a lot better, although both Wiggins and Durant take just one shot in that “nature” per game.
This won’t settle any arguments or help people define clutch more clearly. But it does show there’s a huge difference between some of the league’s best players when it comes to making shots when time is running out.