To objectively answer the question “how good is Kemba Walker in the clutch?” I had to base my answer off nothing, but advanced statistics.
You see, I really, really like Walker. His ascension from an OK top 10 pick last season to, honestly, one of the best young guards in the league has made me want to defend him to the death.
After the performance he had last night against the Pistons – Forcing overtime and then dominating that extra period – I decided to do an analysis on just how good he’s been in clutch situations this year.
To the eye, he’s looked pretty good.
Based on stats… Well… Judge for yourself:
First, the bad.
All of Walker’s shooting statistics drop dramatically except free-throw percentage, which still takes a decent hit in the clutch. His field goal percentage drops from 43 percent to 27 percent, his three-point percentage drops from 32 percent to 29 percent and his free-throw percentage dives from 79 to 73 percent. All that is good for a drop in true shooting percentage from 51 to 36 percent.
Not good, actually.
Walker actually becomes a better defender in crunch time; During normal minutes his defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) is 105.3. During clutch minutes that rating drops to a very solid 95.9. This is a pretty drastic improvement that can’t be overlooked when talking about clutch stats.
He also becomes a better rebounder by almost two rebounds per game (in clutch time minutes).
The interesting thing to look at in the end is how much the team asks of him in clutch minutes compared to normal minutes.
According to his usage rate (percentage of plays a player uses while on the court), during normal minutes, Walker has a usage of 25.1 percent. In clutch minutes that number jumps slightly to 26.5 percent.
While that is a jump, it’s not a big enough one to account for the drop off in all his shooting percentages.
I saved the good news for last, though.
Walker has made a dramatic turn for the better as far as clutch statistics go this year.
In his rookie season, Walker was so bad shooting the ball in clutch situations I really don’t want to put the numbers in front of you (FG% 14 percent, 3pt percentage 20 percent, FT% 60 percent).
What all this tells me is Walker is still a developing player who’s only going to get better in clutch situations as the year goes and his career moves forward.