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With all the rabblerousing surrounding Kobe and his ability (or inability in many cases) to perform in clutch moments, it can be hard to notice that the Orlando Magic have a clutch performer playing for their team. That’s right, not only is Ryan Anderson a starter, a really tall three-point shooter, a beast on the offensive glass, and an efficiency juggernaut but he’s also clutch. Like, light’s out clutch.
There are different ways to define crunch time situations but the biggest thing you have to look for is consistency, which is why you should be inclined to look at not just the biggest shots but the percentage of shots made in crunch time. For that, the most common crunch time definition (a situation under 5:00 left in the fourth quarter or overtime with a scoring margin of five points in either direction) will be used.
The next step is to measure success. Field goal percentage won’t do the job because part of what makes Anderson so deadly is his ability to hit the three. So we weight it and use effective shooting percentage as our gauge.
Basketball-Reference shows that when the big shot is on the line, Anderson has been the guy to deliver the goods for the Magic. Especially if that big shot needs to be a three-pointer. This season, Anderson has attempted 24 shots with less than 5:00 remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime with a scoring margin of five points in either direction.
Of those 24 shots, he’s made nine of them, which leaves something to be desired as far as a field goal percentage goes. Guess what, though? Eight of those nine made shots were three-pointers, putting his effective field goal percentage at 54.2 percent.
To give you a frame of reference on that number, this season Paul Pierce leads the league in effective field goal percentage at 66 percent for the season under the same restrictions. Anderson’s percentage of 54.2 percent would rank him in the top 10 among players with a minimum of 25 field goal attempts.
The only two guys this season to hit more than eight three pointers in that rubric (where Anderson is right now)? Jason Terry and Kevin Durant. So yeah, I would say that Ryan is in pretty good company as far as crunch time situations go so far this season.
You’ve heard this all before, but by way of comparison it is important to point out Kobe Bryant’s effective field goal percentage under this rubric. The Black Mamba is shooting at 28.9 percent in crunch time this season and only has hit three triples in those crunch time moments.
It’s not hard to see what a gem Orlando has in Ryan Anderson. He still ranks in the top 20 for Player Efficiency Rating in the NBA (22.3), he still hits the glass hard, and as things start to funnel into the playoffs (where anything can happen), he is showing signs of being the type of player who wants the ball in close games to help the Magic win (ask the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls).
You can’t always dump the ball to Dwight when you need a bucket. Orlando specializes in spreading the floor and getting good looks from deep. If Anderson continues at this clip in crunch time, Stan Van Gundy will be in a good place come playoff time.
Quibble all you want about what makes a clutch player. Argue with your friends about who has hit bigger shots, more shots, better shots. None of that matters thanks to advanced statistics. We know who is clutch because the numbers tell us who is clutch. Thank God we no longer have to rely on our memories or our inclination about certain guys being “closers.”
Ryan Anderson is clutch. There are no two ways about it. You have to keep feeding him the ball late in games.