It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors have experienced their fair share of fourth quarter excitement this season.
Three of the team’s wins have come on heroic last second shots that sparked incredible emotion and reminded us why we love this game. As the Warriors continue to put up wins and open eyes around the league, the target on their collective back will grow. Opponents will place a higher value on games versus Golden State and will be more likely to put forth extra effort trying to defeat this elite team. This will cause some games versus weaker teams, East or West, to become uncharacteristically closer than required. Even a lackluster franchise can produce spurts of quality basketball simply by everyone getting pumped to play a certain team. Anticipation of future close contests raises a question for the Warriors going forward.
Who should Mark Jackson choose to take the potential game-winning shot at the end of a close game?
It’s a fair question given two different players have already made last second, game winning baskets this season in Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. These two players distinguish themselves as the pair worthy of final shot consideration. Both players have shown they can deliver during an important moment. So, the answer to this question will be a competition between Curry and Iguodala. Whoever possesses the most convincing case put forward will get the nod to take the final shot.
Stats used for each player’s case will include general player statistics as well as “clutch” stats. These “clutch” stats are defined as general player statistics (Points, Rebounds, Assists) that occur within the last five minutes of a game given the team is ahead or behind by as many as five points. A lot of people call this moment in a game crunch time. Conducting a comparison using statistics from an entire game and crunch time will help evaluate each player’s strengths as a whole and when pressure is at its peak.
Again, the only two players being evaluated are Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala.
- Field Goal Percentage: Shooting 44% overall and 40.7% during crunch time.
- 3 Point Percentage: Shooting 38.9% overall and 29.2% during crunch time.
- Free Throw Percentage: Shooting 86.9% overall and 100% during crunch time.
- Turnovers Per Minutes: Currently producing 0.11 turnovers per minute played overall and producing 0.12 turnovers per minute during crunch time.
- Points Per Shot Attempt: Currently scoring 1.27 points per shot attempt overall and 1.16 points per shot during crunch time.
- Field Goal Percentage: Shooting 52.8% overall and 36.4% during crunch time.
- 3 Point Percentage: Shooting 47.6% overall and 40% during crunch time.
- Free Throw Percentage: Shooting 58.9% overall and 33.3% during crunch time.
- Turnovers Per Minutes: Currently producing 0.06 turnovers per minute played overall while also producing 0.06 turnovers per minute during crunch time.
- Points Per Shot Attempt: Currently scoring 1.46 points per shot attempt overall and 1.09 points per shot during crunch time.
The cases have been put forward. Below is a table to sort out the results.
Iguodala outperforms Curry using the above metrics, six to four. It may not be the optimal way to pick who should take the last shot of a game, but these metrics are important attributes of a player you would feel comfortable in a high pressured situation. Based on how the stats fall into place, at this point, Iguodala should get the nod talking the final and potential game winning shot of a game.
It’s safe to say there will be many more last minute situations for the Warriors this season. Both Curry and Iguodala have established they can deliver when it matters most. Honestly, if either player was given the opportunity to win the game I would feel comfortable as a fan. But at this moment, Iguodala provides a higher level of confidence due to the metrics provided and his season to date performance.
All data is through 01/08/2014 and provided by NBA.com