Friday, January 17, 2014

Most Clutch: 2013-14 (so far)

If I'm going to measure who has been the least clutch it makes sense to look at who has been the most clutch this season. (Aside: In light of the growing obsession with statistics, there has been thoughtful, recent discussion about the inaccuracy of assigning "clutch" as a quality to players. As far as we know, there isn't a clutch gene, thus some humans are not more inherently clutch than others. Despite this, some people and NBA players moderate stress--i.e., critical moments in games--better than others. And, while no compilation of basketball statistics will perfectly define a psychological state, we can look at a set of statistics and say that given the circumstances, like a close score and few minutes left on the game clock, some players are associated with better performance than others. Of course, if an exceptional player, like LeBron, shows up as "clutch", it just means that LeBron is exceptional regardless of the score or game clock.)

To measure clutch I pulled 2013-14 per game data (as of last night's games) from NBA Stats on 'clutch play', which I defined as consisting of a player's team being ahead or behind two points or fewer in the last two minutes of a game. To narrow the 338 players that met these two criteria, I focused on only those players that had had played at least five games in such situations. Further, I eliminated players that played at least five games but averaged fewer than one minute per game. That narrowed the sample of players to 166.

I measured "clutch" based on three factors: effective field goal % (eFG%), win percentage (Win %; % of qualifying games that resulted in a win for the player's team), and net rating (NetRtg). Net rating is the difference between offensive rating (points scored for a team/ 100 possessions while the player is on the floor) and defensive rating (points allowed by a team/ 100 possessions while the player is on the floor). A positive net rating indicates that the player's team scored more points than they gave up while he was on the floor (so, like a positive plus-minus). The 15 best players as measured exclusively by eFG% (or all players with an eFG% of one or greater) were:

Courtney Lee (MEM) 1.50
Ray Allen (MIA) 1.25
Patrick Patterson (TOR) 1.25
Robin Lopez (POR) 1.00
Dwyane Wade (MIA) 1.00
Norris Cole (MIA) 1.00
Draymond Green (GSW) 1.00
Jason Thompson (SAC) 1.00
Ryan Anderson (NOP) 1.00
Marcin Gortat (WAS) 1.00
PJ Tucker (PHX) 1.00
Dwight Howard (HOU) 1.00
Miles Plumlee (PHX) 1.00
Jonas Valanciunas (TOR) 1.00
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA) 1.00

The 11 best players as measured exclusively by Win % were (the fact that 8 of the 11 players were from the Spurs or 76ers indicates that those two teams have fared well when the score was close and there was less than two minutes in the game):

Player Win%
Marvin Williams (UTA) 100.0%
Marc Gasol (MEM) 100.0%
Kawhi Leonard (SAS) 88.9%
Michael Carter-Williams (PHI) 87.5%
Kenneth Faried (DEN) 83.3%
Evan Turner (PHI) 80.0%
James Anderson (PHI) 80.0%
Spencer Hawes (PHI) 80.0%
Manu Ginobili (SAS) 80.0%
Thaddeus Young (PHI) 77.8%
Tony Parker (SAS) 77.8%

The ten best players as measured exclusively by NetRtg were:

Wesley Johnson (LAL) 100.3
Marc Gasol (MEM) 76
Pau Gasol (LAL) 75.8
Dwyane Wade (MIA) 59.3
Norris Cole (MIA) 54.9
Kenneth Faried (DEN) 53.5
Tyreke Evans (NOP) 52.7
Robin Lopez (POR) 49.8
Steve Blake (LAL) 48.2
Marvin Williams (UTA) 46.5

And the ten worst were (the fact that 8 of the 10 players were from the Timberwolves or Bucks indicates that those two teams have fared poorly when the score was close and there was less than two minutes in the game):

Nikola Pekovic (MIN) -110.4
Corey Brewer (MIN) -107.2
Kevin Love (MIN) -106.9
Ricky Rubio (MIN) -102.1
Kevin Martin (MIN) -94.1
Glen Davis (ORL) -61.5
O.J. Mayo (MIL) -56
Brandon Knight (MIL) -47
Taj Gibson (CHI) -45.7
Ersan Ilyasova (MIL) -43.7

Next I standardized each category to select the 40 players that performed best across all three measures of "clutch" play. To illustrate the results, I created the chart below, which captures Win % on the X-axis, NetRtg on the Y-axis and eFG % is measured by the size of the circle next to the player's name. Of this subset of "clutch" players, the most clutch have larger circles next to their name (no circle indicates an eFG% of 0%), and are located in the top right of the box, which indicates that they win a greater percentage of qualifying games, and are on the court when their teams scores more points per 100 possessions than they give up. 

Based on NetRtg, Wes Johnson and the Gasol brothers stick out as exceptionally effective. With respect to Win %, after Marc Gasol and Marvin Williams, who have won all games based on the defined scenarios, Kawhi Leonard, Michael Carter-Williams, and Kenneth Faried appear to have anomalously high percentages. In terms of eFG%, Dwayne Wade, Robin Lopez, Jason Thompson, Ray Allen and Draymond Green are all exceptional. Taken together it is fair to say that through almost half of the 2013-14 season based on NetRtg, eFG% and Win % in the final two minutes of a game when a player's team is above or behind by two points or fewer, Marc Gasol, Marvin Williams, Dwayne Wade and Robin Lopez are among the most "clutch" players in the NBA.

1 comment:

  1. If I hate the NBA like I do, then why do I like this blog so much? Keep up the good work Dan!