The inaugural Kia NBA Clutch Player of the Year honors the player that delivers most when the game is on the line. The three finalists — the Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox, the Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan and the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler ranked first, second and third, respectively, in clutch scoring this season.
Clutch time is defined as the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime when the score is within five points. Below is a look at how the three finalists compared in total clutch points — they all played nearly identical clutch minutes — as well as a breakdown of how each player scored in clutch situations.
While clutch time begins at the five minute mark of a five-point game, we have the ability to break the data down further to look for specific game situations. Below is a comparison of how each of the Kia Clutch finalists compared in various clutch situations:
- A one-possession game (ahead or behind by three points or less) in the final three minutes
- A one-possession game (ahead or behind by three points or less) in the final minute
- A one-possession game (while tied or trailing) in the final 10 seconds
No matter the clutch situation, Fox delivered for the Kings all season. In the final scenario outlined above, team tied or trailing in the final 10 seconds, featured two game-winning shots from Fox: a buzzer-beater from just inside half court against Orlando, and a pull-up 3-pointer with less than 1 second remaining against DeRozan and the Bulls.
Fox’s 194 clutch points not only led all players this season by a wide margin, but also ranks as the 11th most clutch points recorded in a single season since clutch data became available with play-by-play data in 1996-97. Below is a comparison of how Fox stacks up historically both in total clutch points and total clutch field goals made.
Comparing total points is a bit misleading here since all of these players played a different number of clutch minutes over the years. However, when we look at clutch points per minute, Fox is tied for eighth in NBA history at 1.21 points per clutch minute played. The chart above showed that only two players – LeBron James and Russell Westbrook – have made more clutch field goals in a single season than Fox, and only six players have ever shot a higher percentage on clutch shots than Fox’s 52.9%.
The numbers and charts point toward Fox being the favorite to win the inaugural Jerry West Trophy as the Kia NBA Clutch Player of the Year. Watch TNT tonight at 7 ET for the official announcement.