NBA’s top 10 players by clutch-time stats: including 5 Celtics

Celtics Al Horford Jayson Tatum Marcus Smart Jaylen Brown Kyrie Irving - 5 of NBA's top 10 crucn-time contributors

Which NBA players stand out overall in the clutch?

You can measure it any number of different ways. One measurement, used by the NBA, is for “Net Rating,” an attempt to measure a player’s impact on the court on his team’s offensive and defensive performance.

NBA clutch time net rating top 10 - Jaylen Brown Al Horford Kyrie Irving Marcus Smart Jayson Tatum

“A Matter of Measurements”
(apologies to Ernest Hemingway)

A couple of notes about the filters we used. We set the filters at 20 games with some clutch time minutes, and an average of at least 2.5 clutch time minutes for appearance. If you reset the filter to 15 games, and 2 minutes, such players as Dwayne Wade (NetReg 36.4) and Joel Embid (NetRtg 26.5) show up in the top 10. At 10 games, Manu Ginobli makes his appearance (NetRtg 47.0).

As this suggests, there’s a bias in our selection towards teams that have been in a lot of close games, and players who have been on the floor a lot for them at clutch time.

On the other hand, whenever we tune in on (say) the MVP or Rookie of the Year debate, to pick one example, all we hear about are “triple doubles” and assists or points per game, or other counting stats. Surely there’s some value in a larger sample size — and a solid performance in a much larger number of close games means a larger contribution to a team’s win total.

Want to know who has the most assists in the NBA this year? It’s easy to look up. Want to know which 10 players have a high rate of clutch-time contributions multiplied over a large volume? It’s in the table.

Meantime, of course, you can play around with the settings as much as you like at, and reach your own conclusions.

“Pressure is good – it makes diamonds”

There may also be a (very) healthy sign here for the Boston Celtics in terms of team development. Consider the youth of the Celtics roster, and the fact that only four of these players were in a Boston uniform seven months ago.

While some teams — even veteran teams, like Oklahoma City — struggled in the season’s first half to “figure out how to win close games” and “learn to play together”…

Well, the young Celtics have been working on it since October.

By the time Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart get to May and June — yes, we said June — they’ll be truly battle-tested. And, by these numbers, battle-proven.

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Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff is composed of fans, journalists, disbarred attorneys, people laid off by ESPN, and other disreputable types who spend too much time watching basketball -- and loving it. If you'd like to join our merry band, you can post a comment, tweet us at @Celts247, or email us (see the contact page.) The only requirement is that you bleed green.
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