Is Jrue Holiday “Clutch?”

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Published: June 24, 2017

**All stats from NBA.com**

Clutch is not what you think.  It’s not what Skip Bayless thinks and it’s not what Biff from the bar thinks, which is, crudely, “is this player greedy enough to take every close game’s final shot at the expense of a more efficient opportunity?”  I don’t care about that evaluation and neither should you.  Clutch, by definition, is how a player performs while the game is within 5 points in the final 5 minutes of each period.  The technical framework gives us an opportunity to more accurately assess how players perform in the final moments of a close game.

And there is no better context to see who a player is in the final moments of a game.  In an aggregate sense, no moment of a game is “different” from another.  Three minutes in, each basket counts for the same amount of points as it does with three minutes left.  But at the end of a game, the amount of opportunities to make up for mistakes decreases at a faster pace.  So I pared down to a small version of clutch time stats — just the last 5 minutes of the final quarter — and normalized to per 36 minutes to better wrap my head around the stats.

With that in mind, there is no shortage of concern regarding Jrue Holiday’s clutch play, because he is likely to get a very fat contract offer in the coming days.  Is this someone that the Pelicans can rely on in the closing moments of a tight playoff game?  I set out to see.

Selected statistics from last 2 seasons (anyone with fewer than 50 min was filtered out of the study; also, please ignore sorting arrows)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

  • Jrue creates as many as assists as almost anyone in the study — his 7.3 AST/36 is not altogether different from his unconstrained 7.9 AST/36 rate from the last 2 years.
  • However, Jrue also turns the ball over at an ungodly rate: 5.3 TO/36.  This is highly disturbing, even with the knowledge that defense tightens in the waning moments of close games.
  • This does not include overtimes, for the great reason of I didn’t feel like pulling more statistics.

The results are not encouraging — according to the data I pulled, Jrue’s turnover rate is not only high, it is sky high for someone whose point production is not nearly that of higher usage players.

I don’t mean this to be a sweeping condemnation of a player that I would love to see stay — there are plenty of reasons to like what Jrue does on the court — but, at the least, these *limited* statistics give me serious pause when considering whether Jrue is someone I want holding the ball in clutch moments if and when the Pelicans make the playoffs.

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