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The Downbeat - 28 January 2011 - #414 - The Not Clutch Edition

TrueHoop takes a look at Kobe's crunch-time (down 1 or 2 points or tied) shooting. Shooting is an accurate term because there aren't a lot of makes. In fact, it's amazing just how poor most shooter are in the clutch. The league average is just 29.7 % since the 1997.

Those last-second shots though often come out of a timeout where a play has been drawn up. There's a first, second, or even 5th option is you're Sundiata Gaines. Still, that allows the defense to set up as well, denying easy layups and shots in the paint by having someone camp there. So a lot of these players are having to create their own shot and they come from distance. So perhaps it's not so surprising that the shooting percentages are low afterall.

It would be interesting to see what the percentages are based on how much time is left in the game. The percentages for heaves with .7 are going to be lower than those that might come with 5-10 seconds. I would also like to see what the percentages are broken down by the deficit. To me, if the game is tied, there's a little less pressure to make a shot given that you always know there's another shot to win in overtime. I'm not sure which shot would have more pressure, one to win it being down one or one to tie it being down two.

Getting back to the Kobe clutch factor, he's not even in the top 10 in clutch shooting situations. He's ranked at 25th in the league since 1997 at just 31.3%. He's just below such greats as Steve Francis, Damon Stoudamire, and Nick Van Exel.

The leader? Carmelo Anthony with a staggering 47.7%. Staggering because if you compare the other percentages, it's far and above everyone else. Chris Paul checks in at 45% and three players cracking 40%.

Deron Williams is tied for 7th at 38.9%. Malone is 14th with 35.5%. John Stockton is 100% against the Rockets.

Zach Lowe from picks up on what we've been saying for a while,

And indeed, if you look at data for all of Utah's five-man units that have logged at least 15 minutes of court time together, you'll see that 11 include both Jefferson and Paul Millsap - and that eight of those combinations have played abysmal defense. Even worse: Two of the three Millsap-Jefferson units that have fared well defensively have logged only about 58 minutes together combined, meaning they are not among Utah's half-dozen or so core lineups.

That leaves one unit to consider: Deron Williams/C.J. Miles/Andrei Kirilenko/Millsap/Jefferson. This unit has absolutely killed it, on both ends, in the 104.5 minutes it has played this season. This group has scored about 128 points per 100 possessions while yielding just 95.65, numbers that would lead the league by a wide margin. It has been one of the best five-man groups in the NBA.

That's not just the bet Jazz unit, but it would be one of the best in the NBA. Would it stay that high? Probably not, but it's a significant amount of minutes and they have been producing at a high level. And as noted in the Lowe article, our best unit didn't log any minutes in the Spurs game.

Raja was on KFAN yesterday and spoke about the team's struggles. To me, it sounds like he's trying to do too much to try and help everyone else get going rather than get himself going. Of all the starters, I think Raja would be the least offended by getting moved to the bench. While it would take CJ out of that second unit, I can't help but think that SWARM could at least maintain a lead rather than having to try and chip into a double-digit deficit. There is a rotation out there that would work.

The Utah Jazz Blog also weighs in on this.

Congrats to Deron for taking first in the All-star voting for the under 660,000 vote category, guard division. I know that's been a career goal of his ever since he entered the league. He beat out the likes of Tony Parker and Jason Kidd.

He missed out though on getting nominated for the skills challenge. Fans are voting on which four players will face Chris Paul. I guess there's no room for a former winner of the contest, a record-setter at that. Derek Fisher and Baron Davis get put on because of the location of this year's game. Fisher just might get in too given the auto-vote for Lakers.

Our defense has been so poor lately that it's becoming recognizable on a national level. HoopData weighs in on it:

123.7 vs. Atlanta (horrendous)
113.4 at Memphis (bad)
98.0 at Houston (good, but Rockets were 3 of 25 on treys)
127.6 vs. New York (horrendous)
103.1 vs. Cleveland (everyone loves playing Cleveland)
116.1 at Washington (bad start to Eastern swing)
114.4 at New Jersey (no bounce back)
119.7 at Boston (awful)
103.2 at Philadelphia (acceptable, but still a loss)
125.0 at the LA Lakers (more spectating)

All good teams have one or two games in a 10-game stretch where they have defensive letdowns. These numbers though are amazingly bad.

Raja stated in his interview that they don't know why they're doing so poorly on the defensive end. That concerns me a bit given that he's a defensive-minded player. Someone has to be able to look at things and see where they're getting killed.

It goes back to that unit of DWill/CJ/AK/Millsap/Jefferson. For whatever reason, they're a much better defensive unit with CJ in over Bell. Maybe that unit's defensive numbers would get worse given that the team gets pick and rolled to death now, but even if they're not starting, I hope we see them finish the game.

Friday poll...