• Adam Bushman

Time to Get Clutch

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

Mike Conley is here to save the Jazz from their regular season nemesis -

the clutch.

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy...he’s nervous.”

Back in 2002, Eminem’s hit song “Lose Yourself” described the tense, meaningful moments in life. Through basketball-colored glasses, he perfectly described the period of time defined as the final five minutes of an NBA game where the score is within five points.

Clutch time.

Last season was a success by many measures for the Utah Jazz. However their sweaty palms, weak knees, and heavy arms may have gotten the best of them as they won just 15 of their 33 games in the clutch.

The 45.5 win percentage in the clutch ranked 21st in the league. No team with a ranking lower than 11th finished with a better regular season record than the Jazz.

Photo Source: Forbes

In short, they were comfortably the worst team in the clutch of teams that were actually good.

The biggest areas of concern were defensive rebounding (25th), assists (26th), and turnovers (25th). The latter was to be expected with their regular season turnovers ranking in the same ballpark, while the former two are shocking since the Jazz ranked top 4 in each.

This left the Jazz with no margin for error in other categories. Unfortunately, the Jazz were not elite in any category in the clutch, ranking comfortably out of the top 5 in every other major statistic.

Okay, now for some good news.

The Utah Jazz were tied for the fewest games played in the clutch and ranked second in fewest minutes played. The Jazz couldn’t eliminate their weakness but they did their best to never expose it.

That same strategy may be impossible in the coming season. With the most parody the Western conference has seen in years, there are more than ten teams in the West alone capable of putting up a fight until the final buzzer sounds.

Good thing the Jazz don’t plan to rely on the same strategy. They traded for Mike Conley.

Photo Source: NBA.com

Yes, Mike Conley. The same Grizzlies star with the 7th most win shares among guards over the last ten years. The same point guard who had, arguably, his best year last season.

That player is now on the Jazz.

Jazz fans are familiar with Mike’s impressive regular season stat line. His ability in the clutch is lesser known...until now.

Mike Conley averaged 5.5 points, 0.6 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per 12 clutch possessions on 57.3% TS and contributing a 22.5 player impact estimate.

Donovan Mitchell averaged 5.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per 12 clutch possession on 39.9% TS and contributing a 14.0 player impact estimate.

Donovan was clearly Utah’s best player in the clutch last year with incredible volume, but his efficiency pales in comparison to that of Conley’s.

Conley had just a 1.1 NRTG and a -0.2 plus-minus in the clutch last year. With improved teammates and a commitment to win, Conley’s team impact numbers should jump considerably next year.

Clutch numbers have been tracked by the NBA since the 2012-13 season. From these eight seasons, we analyzed the best clutch players per season for the Jazz and Mike Conley.

We calculated a score based on games played, win/loss%, minutes, plus-minus, TS%, NRTG, USG, and PIE. All players with at least ten games played in the clutch per season make the list.

Unsurprisingly, Mike Conley dominates the top of the list.

Of the ten best seasons, five are from Mike, two from Donovan Mitchell, one from Rudy Gobert, one from Gordon Hayward, and one from Al Jefferson.

The Utah Jazz have rostered eight of the ten players with the best clutch seasons over the past eight years for the Jazz.

Mike Conley is coming to dispel the Jazz nemesis-the clutch.

Eminem continued his famous lyrics with the following lines: “But on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs…”

Mike Conley knows it’s time to get clutch.

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