43 Minutes of Crunch Time

Published: November 30, 2010

That’s how much basketball we have watched with less than five minutes left on the clock and the Hornets within five points of their opposition. Those 43 minutes have arguably been the biggest of the year for the Bees, as they have determined games, momentum, a power ranking ascension and decline (unless Marc Stein really has the power), and even the future of the franchise in a sense. Imagine the conversations had the team only won five or six games so far. That’s very well where we could be if not for these 43 minutes.

What the following numbers say is what we’ve known for years and years. A team anchored by Chris Paul is going to win more than it’s fair share of close games. He, possibly more than any regular season superstar, has demonstrated how important it is for a team to have an elite player on board.

I think coaching plays a big role in a lot of this as well, like when Monty decided to start switching up high with under two minutes to go against Dirk and the Mavs, or when Scott Brooks threw Kevin Durant on David West with five minutes left in the fourth quarter last night. Those things matter, but that’s a tale for another day.

The following numbers come courtesy of 82games.com-

What’s Good- Paul is rebounding as well as anyone on the team, and his passing (if memory serves) is better than in recent years during crunch time.

What’s Bad- His scoring volume and efficiency have taken a hit. He was shooting above 47% in each of the last three years, with his points per 48 being between 10 and 15 points higher. Gotta love/hate it when stats show you what you already know.

What better damn well stay the same- He’s leading the universe (and the team) in clutch time played. He hasn’t missed even a second, and that’s how it should stay.

What’s Good-He’s scoring often and fairly efficiently. Also he’s taking a bunch of trips to the line.

What’s Bad- Rebounding. Yuck. Your power forward needs to grab more than 17% of available defensive rebounds. The team only grabs 2/3rds when he’s on the court.

What’s Good- If you don’t count rebounding, his defense has been pretty solid. He also has three blocks.

What’s Bad- Everything else. The team is grabbing on 58% of defensive rebounds when he’s on the floor.

What’s Good- His eFG% of 68% is fantastic, and the best on this list by a good margin.

What’s Bad- His rebounding is just awful. He’s snagged 4/84 potential rebounds. If he rebounded at that pace all season, he would project to be the worst rebounding forward that contributes in the entire league. Consequently I would be on pace to break three laptops, so let’s all hope that he improves.

What’s Good-2.25 points per shot. Of all major players, the Hornets best when he’s on the court. And the defense has been pretty sweet.

What’s Bad- Again, the rebounding is just not doing it. The team does snag over 70% of defensive rebounds when he’s out there, but you just can’t attribute that to him.

What’s OK- His scoring

What’s Bad- Everything else. He’s by far the least effective clutch player on the team, for now at least.

So there you have it. The Hornets are a horrible rebounding team when it matters most. Whether or not this can be attributed to a small sample size is yet to be seen, but nobody should be fooled into thinking that this is a good rebounding team.

Also nobody should be fooled (and nobody is) that the ball should be in David West’s hands in isolation regularly at the end of games. That’s Chris Paul’s time to shine. The Hornets (and their fans) will live and die with how he plays in the those closing minutes.


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