Being clutch is a trait that you want your best player to have. It is about making a play when it matters the most and staying cool when the pressure is at it’s highest. There have been many fantastic clutch moments throughout this season on both ends of the floor. Shots like LaVine’s three vs. the Hornets, Bogdanović’s two walk-off buzzer-beaters, or defensive plays like Beverly’s block on King James are moments that have made this season memorable.
However, not every clutch-play attempt results in celebration. This is the list of the 10 worst clutch performers in 2019./2020. NBA season. We defined clutch as FG% in the fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points with at least 40 FGA’s.
10. Kemba Walker
When the Celtics lost Kyrie in an open market, they replaced him with Kemba Walker. Kemba was supposed to be a slightly lesser version of Kyrie but without questions about the fit. Celtics are currently the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, and it seems like the fit between Kemba, and the Celtics is seamless. However, so far, Kemba hasn’t been able to replace Kyrie as a clutch shot-maker. Kyrie finished last year as one of the most clutch players in the league (7th overall based on the FG%, 118 FGA), and Kemba is currently the 10th worst clutch performer of the season.
He attempted 45 field goals and was only able to convert .356 of them. Most of his clutch attempts were three-pointers which Walker hit at the high rate of .429. And is the reason why Kemba has the highest eFG% on this list at .438. Brad Stevens’ system provides Kemba with quality looks outside the 3pt line, which he is knocking down at the high rate, but his finishing inside the line is the reason why Kemba is the first name on this infamous list.
9. Kyrie Irving
It hasn’t been the season Kyrie had hoped for when he joined the Nets. He spent most of the season injured, playing only 20 games, and there has been a lot of discussion about Nets playing better without Kyrie. He had great individual numbers, but his clutch performance hasn’t been at the level that you expect from the guy who hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history.
Irving did have his moments, but they came from a lot of attempts. Kyrie’s FG% dropped to .353 in clutch situations. Most of his shots are results of isolation plays, given that only .278 of his FGA are assisted on. We can assign these numbers to the lack of rhythm, given that he’s been injured for most of the season, especially when comparing them to the last season when he was one of the best clutch performers in the league.
8. Colin Sexton
When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie to the Boston Celtics, they negotiated trade package that was centered around Nets’ pick. That pick turned out to be Colin Sexton, a young and exciting point guard from the Alabama Crimson Tide. Sexton’s 2nd NBA season has been pretty promising. He started in all 65 games, scoring 20,8 ppg on some solid percentages. He also showed leadership ability by taking over games in the clutch.
His clutch performance, however, has been pretty disappointing. Sexton attempted 52 shots in clutch situations and hit only 18 of those. What does look promising is that he hit .455 of his 11 3pt attempts in the clutch, which showed his potential as a shooter, something that he wasn’t known about when coming out of college. Sexton showed that he is ready to work on his game and improve. Cavs fans are hoping that his clutch performance will improve after he gains some more experience and gets accustomed to the league even more.
7. LeBron James
It has been a pretty fantastic year for LeBron and the Lakers. They went on the hiatus as the 1st seed in the Western Conference, having 2nd best record overall. LeBron himself has had an amazing year, averaging a career-high in assists. The fit between him and Anthony Davis has been great, and the Lakers are finally in serious contention for the title.
Lebron’s clutch performance hasn’t been near the level of his playing ability. LBJ converted only .333 of his 60 field goal attempts in the clutch. It’s interesting that out of those 60 shots, 29 have been three-pointers, and James hit only 5 of them. LeBron is settling for one or two dribble pull-up 3 pointers, which he is not hitting at the high enough rate. It is also worth mentioning that none of the shots LeBron made in a clutch have been assisted on, given that he is the team’s primary ball-handler. It seems that mileage on his body is affecting his late-game athletic ability, so he has to settle for jump shots instead of using his power and driving to the rim, which would improve his numbers in the clutch.
6. Zach LaVine
One of the best clutch shots of the season belongs to Zach LaVine. He hit an amazing three for the win vs. the Hornets, after trailing by 5 just 15 seconds before the final buzzer. Other than that fantastic sequence, LaVine’s clutch performance has been one of the worst in the league.
LaVine has tried to establish himself as the leader of the young Chicago group, by taking responsibilities upon himself in the clutch moments. The leading indicator of that has been the volume of last-minute shots Lavine has taken. He attempted 91 shots and drained only 30 of them. A high percentage (.433) of his attempts have been assisted on, which shows that he is their go-to guy when needing a bucket, especially a three, given that LaVine shot 49 of them in the clutch, with the low efficiency of .327.
5. Jrue Holiday
The Pelicans are one of the most exciting teams in the league. The addition of Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram made them a must-watch TV. They even made a significant push towards the end of the season that inserted them in the discussion for the playoffs. Such a young team needed some veteran leadership, and coach Gentry had that in Jrue Holiday.
One of the most underrated players in the league has led by example on both ends of the floor and showed the young guys how to be a professional in this league. But when it came to clutch situations, Jrue struggled again this year, after having one of the worst clutch performances in the league last season. Jrue’s struggles came from all over the floor, hitting only .326 of his clutch attempts.
4. Luka Dončić
It has been a long time since the league has seen such a dominant player at such a young age. Luka’s all-around ability has taken the league by storm and already inserted him in the MVP discussion. Even at a younger age, while playing in Europe, Luka showed that he has a closer mentality and that the lights are never too bright for him.
And even though Luka keeps on attempting big shots, he is one of the worst players in the league in converting them. Dončić took 65 shots in the clutch situations and knocked only 21 of those. His biggest struggles were from the 3pt line, where his tough shot-making ability entirely disappeared in game-deciding situations. His 3pt percentage drops from .318 to .171 in the clutch, and many have been critical towards him about it. It seems that, even though he isn’t afraid of the moment, maybe those moments are too big for Luka, at least at this stage of his career.
3. Kristaps Porzingis
Dončić isn’t the only Maverick who’s been struggling in the clutch this season. Kristaps Porzingis has been even worse than his Slovenian teammate. Coming from an ACL injury, we didn’t know what to expect out of Zinger. And sure, he had a slow start to the season, but as the time went on and he got in the rhythm of playing NBA basketball again, Porzingis had games when he reminded us why KD gave him a nickname Unicorn.
However, Kristaps hasn’t been able to perform in the clutch throughout the whole year. He has been the 3rd worse clutch performer in the entire league percentage-wise. Most of his shots came as spot-ups or out of the pick&pop, but he just hasn’t taken advantage of them. Porzingis shot only .300 in those situations, hitting only 2 three-pointers. This is something both Dončić and Porzingis have to work on if they want to compete at the highest level.
2. Jimmy Butler
Pat Riley’s Miami Heat continue to be relevant in the NBA. Before the season started, not many people thought that the Heat would be 4th seed in the East. The combination of a great coach in Eric Spoelstra, a few promising rookies and proven veterans turned out as a very successful one. The leader of this team and arguably it’s the best player is Jimmy Butler. The Heat also envisioned Butler to be their go-to guy in the clutch, but Jimmy hasn’t delivered.
Not only that, he hasn’t delivered, but he’s been the second-worst clutch player in the league. His clutch shooting percentage is awful at only .283, and out of 20 three-point shots he’s attempted, Butler drained only 3 of them. It’s a shame because Butler’s bad clutch performance cost Heat some games that could have put them even higher in the standings.
1. Evan Fournier
The infamous award of the worst clutch performer of 2019./2020. NBA season goes to Evan Fournier. Fournier’s field goal percentage drops from .470 to .277 in the final minutes of games. Even tough he is a great 3 point shooter, his 3 pt percentage plummets from .406 to .222 when the game is on the line. Out of 13 field goals Fournier has made, 7 were assisted on, and 6 of those were from the 3 point line, which means that the big number of his clutch shots are results of 3pt set plays or spot-ups. Nevertheless, Magic have been in the run for the playoffs, even though their go-to guy in clutch situations has been the worst in the league.