NBA Draft

Clutchness efficiency: who is really clutch in the NBA?


Damian Lillard, Ray Allen, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry : these are names that come into mind when we think about clutch players. Big shots make history… But players globally performing with a constant high impact on both ends of the floor tend to be out of the picture.

Expert in basketball game analysis and advanced statistics, Viziball has established a clutch efficiency measure to assess the overall impact of a player during money time.

This Clutch indicator not only takes into account scoring, but also all other aspects of the game (defense, playmaking, rebounding, etc.). Like advanced stats such as Player Impact Estimate (PIE) or Game Score, the Clutch Efficiency measurement groups all classical stats into a single value.

Kawhi thinking : “Come on, +24 on my clutch score !”

A Clutch Efficiency measure based on play-by-play analysis

But an offensive rebound doesn’t have the same impact when it happens during the first quarter or seconds from the final buzzer. The consequences of a turnover are not the same during garbage time versus when the game is tied.

With its Clutch indicator, Viziball goes further. Relying on play-play, they are able to know what is at stake at the time a game event occurred. In particular: how much time is left? And what is the point differential? 

Each event is weighted using these two criteria (time left and point difference) and added to the Clutch Indicator calculation. The closer it gets to the end of the game and the tighter the score is, the more the weight of an event (points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, field goal made, field goal missed, fouls, turnovers…) impacts the final measure.

Who are the clutchest players in the NBA this season?

On this basis, we were able to consult the ranking of the clutchest players of the current season and this reveals some surprises.

First of all in the TOP-5, apart from Luka Doncic (5), we do not find the big names that we would expect : players to whom we would naturally give the final possession, such as LeBron James, Jayson Tatum or Damian Lillard.

On the other hand, if we expand to the TOP-10, we find the two big MVP candidates Nikola Jokic (8) and Joël Embiid (7), but also Bradley Beal (6) and Stephen Curry (10) among the uncontested franchise players.

But the leading trio might be a bit surprising: De’Aaron Fox (3), DeMar DeRozan (2) and Zion Williamson in first place! 

Observing the spider chart of Zion Williamson on Viziball Player Profile page, we can see that he is a go-to-guy with a low Usage (⅓ possession finishes in his hand and he is averaging 33 minutes on the floor). But he has great FG% (60.7) and 3-PTS% (36.8). Viziball also revealed that when the score differential is lower or equal to 3, Zion increases his standards with 65.5% FG% and 55.6 3-PTS % !

Zion Williamson spider chart from Viziball Player Profile page

Zion Williamson spider chart from Viziball Player Profile page

Special mention to Bam Adebayo (4) and Jordan Clarkson (9).

Here is the TOP-10 of clutchest players in the NBA at the time we write this article (including players with a minimum of 20 games played over the season):

  1. Zion Williamson
  2. DeMar DeRozan
  3. De’Aaron Fox
  4. Bam Adebayo
  5. Luka Doncic
  6. Bradley Beal
  7. Joël Embiid
  8. Nikola Jokic
  9. Jordan Clarkson
  10. Stephen Curry

Visit Viziball to have an updated ranking of the TOP-50 Clutch NBA players this seasonUsing this basketball analytics tool, you can also configure the ranking yourself (number of players, stat, period, order etc.) and access plenty of options to get your own insights. You will also find post game and pregame reports including many useful charts and advanced statistics.

Author : Guillaume Blot

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