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John Schuhmann

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The crunch-time difference between Kobe, D-Wade and LeBron isn't as big as you might think.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Kobe, LeBron or D-Wade: Which one is most clutch?


Posted Nov 5 2009 12:25PM

Last week, we looked at clutch free-throw shooting, and that sparked a few questions like this one from Grady Farmer:

"Is Kobe Bryant really that more clutch than LeBron James or Dwyane Wade?"

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Once again, we defined "clutch situations" as the last five minutes of a game with a scoring margin of five points or less. To measure how clutch a player is we used True Shooting Percentage (TS%), which accounts for trips to the free-throw line. And we looked at the last five seasons (not including the first week of the current season), 2004-05 through 2008-09, eliminating players who didn't attempt at least 180 field goals in clutch situations over that time. Here's the top 10...

Highest True Shooting Percentage in Clutch Situations, Last Five Seasons
Player FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3PT% FTM FTA FT% PTS TS%
Manu Ginobili 96 219 0.438 29 83 0.349 202 235 0.860 423 0.656
Mehmet Okur 113 240 0.471 47 115 0.409 113 133 0.850 386 0.647
Steve Nash 146 318 0.459 54 127 0.425 171 192 0.891 517 0.642
Amar'e Stoudemire 102 187 0.545 0 6 0.000 128 171 0.749 332 0.633
Chauncey Billups 133 318 0.418 52 142 0.366 219 245 0.894 537 0.631
Carlos Boozer 109 190 0.574 0 0 -- 75 99 0.758 293 0.627
Shawn Marion 126 230 0.548 11 37 0.297 68 88 0.773 331 0.616
Corey Maggette 84 204 0.412 10 42 0.238 189 215 0.879 367 0.615
Kyle Korver 68 180 0.378 35 112 0.313 124 141 0.879 295 0.609
Ming Yao 111 217 0.512 1 4 0.250 129 164 0.787 352 0.609
TS% = True Shooting Percentage = PTS/ (2*(FGA + (0.44*FTA)))

Not only is Ginobili the new Batman, he's also Mr. Clutch. His shooting percentage isn't that great, but he's at the top of the list because he gets to the line often and makes his free throws when he does. The same goes for Maggette.

You might notice that every player in the top 10 is in the Western Conference. You also might notice that there's no Bryant, James, Wade or Carmelo Anthony in the top 10. They're a little further down the list. James ranks 12th, Anthony ranks 22nd, Wade ranks 28th and Bryant ranks 38th.

True Shooting Percentage in Clutch Situations, Last Five Seasons
Player FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3PT% FTM FTA FT% PTS TS%
LeBron James 253 529 0.478 50 159 0.314 265 359 0.738 821 0.598
Carmelo Anthony 140 328 0.427 14 55 0.255 211 256 0.824 505 0.573
Dwyane Wade 208 474 0.439 13 68 0.191 269 344 0.782 698 0.558
Kobe Bryant 241 608 0.396 42 150 0.280 313 373 0.839 837 0.542

So Grady, the answer is no. Kobe isn't more clutch than LeBron or D-Wade.

Biggest Difference, Clutch vs. Overall True Shooting Percentage, Last Five Seasons
Player Clutch TS% Overall TS% Difference
Mehmet Okur 0.647 0.568 +0.079
T.J. Ford 0.593 0.515 +0.078
Carlos Boozer 0.627 0.572 +0.055
Manu Ginobili 0.656 0.605 +0.051
Caron Butler 0.592 0.542 +0.050
Shawn Marion 0.616 0.570 +0.046
Jason Kidd 0.559 0.518 +0.041
Ben Gordon 0.594 0.554 +0.041
Zach Randolph 0.555 0.515 +0.040
Mo Williams 0.580 0.544 +0.036

When we looked at free-throw shooting last week, we compared players' percentages in clutch situations vs. non-clutch situations, to see which guys really step up in the heat of a tight game.

We'll do something similar with True Shooting Percentage. So Mehmet Okur really makes 'em when they count. Who doesn't?

Biggest Difference, Overall vs. Clutch True Shooting Percentage, Last Five Seasons
Player Clutch TS% Overall TS% Difference
Kirk Hinrich 0.478 0.525 -0.047
Pau Gasol 0.540 0.587 -0.047
Hedo Turkoglu 0.502 0.553 -0.051
Al Harrington 0.475 0.531 -0.056
Jameer Nelson 0.491 0.549 -0.058
Elton Brand 0.501 0.563 -0.062
Danny Granger 0.509 0.572 -0.063
Gerald Wallace 0.490 0.559 -0.068
Joe Johnson 0.473 0.543 -0.069
Rasheed Wallace 0.438 0.516 -0.078

That's a pretty interesting list. Turkoglu has had a reputation for being a go-to guy down the stretch, but in reality, he's more effective in non-pressure situations. And we certainly remember Granger hitting some game-winners in his breakout season last year, but those may have been preceded by some shots that didn't fall.

Where do our big four stand? James and Anthony shoot better in the clutch, while Wade and Bryant do not.

Biggest Difference, Clutch vs. Overall True Shooting Percentage, Last Five Seasons
Player Clutch TS% Overall TS% Difference
LeBron James 0.598 0.567 +0.031
Carmelo Anthony 0.573 0.550 +0.023
Dwyane Wade 0.558 0.570 -0.012
Kobe Bryant 0.542 0.568 -0.026

If you've got a question for StatsCube, please submit it via e-mail or twitter, and we may answer it in the coming weeks.

Best & Worst of the Decade

Yesterday, I wrote about the Celtics' goal of being known as the best defensive team in history, and I showed that the 2007-08 Celtics were the best defensive team of the last decade by comparing teams' defensive rating with the league average of that season.

Five Best Defensive Teams, Last Decade
Team Season DEF. RAT. LEAGUE AVG. DIFF.
Boston 2007-08 96.4 104.7 -8.34
San Antonio 2003-04 91.7 100.0 -8.31
Detroit 2003-04 92.6 100.0 -7.5
San Antonio 2004-05 96.1 103.1 -7.0
Chicago 2006-07 97.1 103.7 -6.6

Here are the five worst defenses of the last decade, with the '05-06 Sonics taking the honors...

Five Worst Defensive Teams, Last Decade
Team Season DEF. RAT. LEAGUE AVG. DIFF.
L.A. Clippers 1999-00 107.2 101.2 +5.9
Sacramento 2008-09 111.7 105.4 +6.3
Toronto 2005-06 109.8 103.4 +6.4
Orlando 2003-04 107.1 100.0 +7.1
Seattle 2005-06 110.9 103.4 +7.5

Turning to the offensive side of the ball, the '03-04 Mavs, led by Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, were the best of the last 10 years...

Five Best Offensive Teams, Last Decade
Team Season OFF. RAT LEAGUE AVG. DIFF.
Dallas 2003-04 109.3 100.0 +9.2
Phoenix 2004-05 111.4 103.1 +8.3
Dallas 2001-02 109.3 101.6 +7.7
Phoenix 2006-07 111.1 103.7 +7.4
Sacramento 2003-04 107.4 100.0 +7.3

And the title of worst offensive team of the last 10 years goes to the '02-03 Nuggets, led by Juwan Howard, James Posey and Junior Harrington...

Five Worst Offensive Teams, Last Decade
Team Season OFF. RAT LEAGUE AVG. DIFF.
Miami 2007-08 98.0 104.7 -6.7
Seattle 2007-08 97.8 104.7 -6.9
Cleveland 2002-03 93.6 100.7 -7.1
Chicago 1999-00 91.6 101.2 -9.6
Denver 2002-03 89.5 100.7 -11.2
Quick Hitters

• In Wednesday's overtime win in Houston, Derek Fisher played 34 minutes, but did not register a single point, rebound or assist. That's the first time since the 1986-87 season (which is as far back as we can track it), including the postseason, that anyone has played at least 30 minutes without picking up a point, rebound or assist. Before Fisher, the most minutes anyone has played with zeros in those categories was 26, by Portland's Theo Ratliff on April 17, 2006.

• Last season, the Knicks and Magic became the second and third teams in history to average 10.0 3-pointers per game. The 2005-06 Suns hold the record with 10.2 threes per game, but the Magic are on pace to crush it this season. Even with Rashard Lewis serving a 10-game suspension, Orlando has averaged 12.2 threes through its first five games.

• The Sixers scored 141 points in an overtime win in New York on Saturday. In their next game (Monday against the Celtics), it took them 46 minutes and 32 seconds to reach half that total.

• The 141 points was the most the Sixers had scored in a game since April 1, 1990, when they scored 141 in a regulation win over the Suns. Two nights before that game, they scored 149 in a regulation win over the Nuggets.

• Last Friday, the Mavs held the Lakers to just 80 points at Staples Center. It was just the ninth time that the Lakers have been held to 80 or less at home in the 13-plus seasons since Kobe Bryant came to L.A.

• Last season, Jose Calderon missed just three free throws, setting an NBA record for free-throw percentage by making 151 of his 154 attempts from the line. This season, Calderon missed three of his first eight attempts from the line, including his first two in the Raptors' opener last Wednesday.

• No player is taking a greater percentage of his shots from beyond the arc than Boston's Rasheed Wallace. So far this season, 40 of Sheed's 53 field-goal attempts (75.5 percent) have been from 3-point range. Through the first 14 seasons of his career, just 22.5 percent of Wallace's shots came from 3-point range, with the percentage increasing in the last few years and peaking at 44.3 percent last season. The Celtics can't complain, as Wallace has made 17 of those 40 threes, an impressive 42.5 percent.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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