Could Chris Paul’s Clutch Play Account For the Team’s Disparity in Wins and Wins Produced?

Published: March 18, 2010

After last night I want to write a post comparing our numbers with and without a center in the game, but this is ready to go, so the center post will have to wait.

A few weeks back Ryan discussed and provided a link to Dr. Dave Berri’s Short Post on the Hornets, Darius Songaila specifically, and how they have fared in terms of Wins Produced. Had you ventured a little deeper, like I did, you would have found that the Hornets have outperformed their Wins Produced every year since the 2005-2006 season. I’m not going to tell you about Wins Produced and why it works so well, since Berri does a great job of that on his own.

What I am going to do is take a brief look at one reason why the statistic might undervalue the Hornets, or the Hornets’ star specifically. Wins Produced takes many factors into account, but clutch play isn’t one of them. Nor is a teams record in close games.

A while ago I wrote John Schuhmann of in regard to his stating that the Hornets’ success early in the year was more illusion than reality. My contention was that the Hornets record in close games isn’t merely coincidental, but a reflection of how excellent Chris Paul is in clutch situations.

He did later respond through his column, noting the Hornets have been doing this for a while. This was all a few months ago, so those numbers aren’t exact anymore, but coincidentally Paul was injured one game after the article. After including a few more games I was able to get the number to 63, right where Berri calculated our stats for Wins Produced.

From 05-06 until 63 games into this season, the Hornets have gone 70-35 in games decided by five points or less. The average team wins 50% of their games decided by that margin. Using that rationale, the Bees have won 17.5 more games than they were expected to since Chris Paul was drafted.

Let’s look at the Hornets record from for the last four full seasons, and part of this one, in relation to Wins Produced.

Year Wins Produced Wins
05-06 33.3 38
06-07 36.8 39
07-08 55.1 56
08-09 44.9 49
09-10 (through 63 games) 27.8 31
Total 197.9 213

I’m not saying that it’s a certainty that Paul is the reason the Hornets’ record outperforms the output of their players, but I do find it interesting that the 15.1 extra Wins Produced is awfully close to the +17.5 margin they have in 5 point games over that same time.

Let’s check out “clutch stats” for Paul over that same time period. Clutch stats are taken during the time when there is less than 5 minutes or left in the fourth quarter or overtime, and the teams are within 5 points of each other. These stats are all per 48 minutes.

Year FG% Points Assists Team +/-
05/06 .422 31.5 4.8 +5
06/07 .366 26.2 7.7 +8
07/08 .478 38.8 10.6 +30
08/09 .494 45.1 10.5 +28
09/10 .507 39.8 9.8 +46

So Chris Paul is pretty good when it counts, and pretty instrumental in pulling out tough wins. Just another reason why I miss CP3.