How Clutch is DeMar DeRozan? A Look at the Raptors' Late-Game Options

USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of DeMar DeRozan's game-winning shot, Adam Francis examines just how "clutch" DeMar and the rest of his teammates are.

DeMar DeRozan has scored the 30th most points in the league in the last five minutes of games that the Toronto Raptors are within five points of their opponent.

DeRozan's got 47 of these "clutch points" on the season, points number 46 and 47 coming last night via his game-winning circus shot, the result of which meant a 97 to 95 Raptors' win over the Orlando Magic.

Let's take a look at that shot again shall we?


CLUTCH!

Well, considering the degree of difficulty of that shot, maybe not so much clutch as lucky?

DeRozan faded away and hit that high-arcer just as time expired, but as many pointed out on Twitter after, if he took that shot 10 times, would that be his only make?

In fact, in the wake of my article yesterday discussing the Raptors' closing issues, and noting that DeMar DeRozan, much like Andrea Bargnani, was not a legit "closer," it was funny to see him hit that shot, and prompted a flood of "I told you so!" tweets.

So instead of a typical recap today, especially since Kinnon did a great job covering the basics in last night's Rapid Recap, I thought today we'd take a look at just how "clutch" DeMar DeRozan is.

As noted, indeed, DeRozan scores a lot of "clutch points" compared to most other players in the league. However if you give a player plenty of opportunities to do such a thing, the points will likely come. That doesn't necessarily make said player a "good," or efficient closing option though, so I constructed a "clutch player" database using NBA.com's super stats database, to see just where Mr. DeRozan ranked amongst the league's other "closers."

To do this, I grabbed any player with a usage rate of 17 or higher, and who had been involved in at least 10 "clutch games." (Again, the NBA.com "clutch" definition I'm using here refers to games where a team is within five points of their opponent with five minutes or less remaining.) I cut the sample this way as while there were players with extremely high efficiency marks etc, I wanted to compare DeRozan to other typical "go-to" players that teams use when the game was on the line. (So sorry Greg Stiemsma, you're out.)

Using this view, the player with the highest offensive rating was Chris Paul, and he was followed by Jamal Crawford, Harrison Barnes, Dwyane Wade, Blake Griffin and LeBron James. Of the 105 players in my database, DeRozan placed 94th via this metric, two spots ahead of Andrea Bargnani, and behind fellow Raptors Jose Calderon (90th), and Alan Anderson. (77th) The highest-rated Raptor using this view was actually Terrence Ross at 35 on the list.

Of course there are a multitude of other views available in terms of examining "clutch" performance, so let's run through a few here.

Sorting by True Shooting Percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws), it's Crawford that comes out on top, followed by Jimmer Fredette, Jeremy Lin, Robin Lopez, Danilo Gallinari and Paul. (Calderon is the top Raptor in this view at 45.2%, good for 75th in the database.)

By effective field goal percentage (a measure of field goal percentage that takes into account the increased value of 3-pointers) - Crawford, Marcus Thornton, Markieff Morris, Griffin, Kyle Singler, Nic Batum and Lin. (Top Raptor is again Calderon, 72nd, with and eFG% of 38%.)

Now if we look at some of the more basic box score stats, DeRozan starts to show up.

He's taken the third-highest amount of "clutch" shots in the league at 57, behind only Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both with 58. Evidently then, the Raptors view him as their top "closing option," considering the next Raptor on the FGA list is Kyle Lowry, 35th, with 35 attempts.

Unfortunately, as a closing option though, DeRozan's been pretty horrific offensively.

His absence in the upper tier of the aforementioned TS% and ORating metrics underscores this, but the "in-your-face" stat here is that of those 57 field goal attempts, DeRozan's hit only 17 of them, or 29.8%. He's also 0 of 9 on his "clutch 3-point attempts."

Yikes.

To put that in perspective, here are some other top "closers" in terms of shot volume, and their FG% marks:

-Kevin Durant (26 of 58 - 44.8%)

-Kyrie Irving (25 of 58 - 43.1%)

-Damian Lillard (25 of 56 - 44.6%)

-David West (23 of 55 - 41.8%)

-Tony Parker (28 of 54 - 51.9%)

-LeBron James (23 of 51 - 45.1%)

-OJ Mayo (26 of 54 - 48.1%)

-Ty Lawson (19 of 45 - 42.2%)

And on and on. Of those top 30 players in terms of clutch field goal volume, only two players have worse field goal percentage marks than DeRozan, Kemba Walker (28.6%) and Grievis Vasquez (25.5%.)

Toronto's top FG% mark in the clutch actually belongs to Amir Johnson, who's hit 6 of his 12 attempts down the stretch in clutch situations. Obviously giving it to Amir and letting him go to work isn't exactly ideal, but considering the other options...

-Kyle Lowry (11 of 35 - 31.4%)

-Andrea Bargnani (7 of 27 - 25.9%)

-Jose Calderon (7 of 25 - 28.0%)

-Alan Anderson (5 of 19 - 26.3%)

Yeah...about those late game struggles again...

And unfortunately, DeMar's marks in assists and rebounds don't exactly increase his late-game value.

The point here is twofold.

For one, DeMar DeRozan can hardly be called "clutch" despite last night's heroics, and yet based on the "clutch" performance of his teammates, it's hard to fault Dwane Casey too much for repeatedly going to him in late-game situations. Toronto just doesn't have many great clutch options, which again goes back to my article yesterday discussing the team's lack of elite talent, something that keeps rearing its ugly head in these close losses.

And it's not just on the offensive end.

Sorting the database by defensive rating puts the Raptors' top clutch options, Anderson, DeRozan and Bargnani, in the bottom 15, with an average defensive rating of 118.1. On the other side of the coin, the top defensive ratings belong to a quartet of Indiana Pacers; Tyler Hansbrough, David West, George Hill and Paul George, which is no big surprise. Considering the Pacers have the top defensive efficiency ranking in the league, it's hardly a shock that four of their key crunch time players, also sport very good defensive marks.

So in summary here, we've got a Toronto Raptors squad that's been rolling out crunch-time line-ups that have been pretty bad in late game situations, on both sides of the ball. This highlights the challenges facing Dwane Casey, who may be able to make some tweaks to late-game combinations, but is essentially stuck trying to make do with what he has.

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