Quick Fanservice: Scoring vs Shot Creation in the Clutch and Overall Clutch Rankings

Posted on 01/26/2011 by


Reader Judd wrote in the comments to the last post:

“Really interesting. One thought – I’m curious about the overwhelming distribution of ball handlers at the top (with the exception of high-percentage scoring big men, who we’d expect to be the ones we want taking the “clutch” shots). It seems like Paul, Nash, etc. (even James and Kobe, who are more pass-oriented than the norm at their positions) would be likely to have the ball and take a high-percentage shot if it were available, or pass to a “scorer” (Nash to Richardson or now Carter, Paul to whatever they’re calling a scorer in NO these days, Westbrook to Durant, etc) if not. The scorer would then take a lower percentage shot because that’s his “job” on the team. The “scorer” would have suppressed scoring stats due to taking lower percentage shots later in the possession, and would have suppressed assists because of the shot clock and because they were deemed responsible for shot creation.

I guess what I’m asking, statistically, is whether there’s a ‘fall guy’ scenario in which the good clutch players have less successful buddies on their team, who take the statistical hits, and also whether the spread is compressed if you look at collections of players on the same team, players who would essentially distribute the bad shots unevenly.

Just a thought. Nice work here.”

Nice one!

My response to this very good observation is a quick followup post (For free even) while I eat my lunch at my desk. We are all winners (except my usual lunch place which loses my business for the day).

Judd hit on an interesting feature. The way the metric for shot creation is constructed it rewards players for assists more than shooting.

The assist incurs no possession cost while the shot does. So a player like Ray Allen gets penalized in the clutch. I debated wether or not to split the possession cost but at the end of the day I left it on the shooter (who really makes the call). That however means that point creation in the clutch doesn’t tell the full story. Really there are two components to clutch i’d look at: Points Scoring and points created. We need to know who puts the rock in the hole.

We did Point creation yesterday. Let’s look at points scored over average now (Points per Possesion over average times Possessions used per 48 just so you know):

This makes some changes to the list (and the scorers make a comeback). If I do a combined clutch ranking:

Al Horford is the best all around Clutch player followed by Westbrook, Nash, Nowitski and Felton. The bottom remains very similar. How about the biggest differences?

The point guard suffer and the efficient shooters gain.What have we learned? We need smart ball handlers and efficient shooting to do well in the clutch. Take care of the rock and get it in situations where it’s likely to go in. Eureka.

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