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Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash Is The NBA's Best Late-Game 3-Point Shooter Since 2000

Nash is the Suns' Mr. Clutch. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Nash is the Suns' Mr. Clutch. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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I will be the first to admit (because if I don't, many of you should remind me anyway) that I've been disappointed in Steve Nash's late-game clutchness since at least 2009. Even during the Suns' last magical playoff run, Two-Time battled nicks and bruises that often had impact on his play at the end of games.

But if you look at the last 12 years in composite - years during which Nash won the league MVP 2 times, was named to 8 All-Star games and 7 All-NBA teams, boasts the 5th-most MVP award shares and the third-most offensive win shares among active NBA players and oh-by-the-way turned in a league-record 4 separate years of 50/40/90*...

I digress, and take a breath. If you look at the last 12 years in composite, across the entire NBA, Steve Nash actually ranks third in the NBA in clutch shooting* in terms of field goal percentage and first in 3-pt% while having the lowest overall percentage of those shots being set up by someone else (Ast'd rate).

A Statistical Analysis Of Clutch NBA Shooters Since 2000 - LibertyBallers - Jordan Sams

The first table includes 15 active players who have attempted at least 650 "clutch" shots since the 2000-01 season. Again, for this set, ‘clutch' is defined as "the shots that occur during the 4th quarter or overtime, with less than five minutes remaining, and neither team ahead by more than five points". Playoffs are included.


Yes, I am chastened. Not ashamed, mind you. Just chastened. Because this Liberty Ballers writer's criteria for his first table (last 5 minutes of a close game, dating back to 2000) is different enough from my own that I can stand (somewhat) tall AND stand corrected at the same time.

When the LibertyBaller's Jordan Sams narrowed the focus to only go back to 2006-07, or when he limits the list to clutch shooters in the final minute, our favorite Sun Mr. Nash doesn't make the Top-15 in terms of attempts.

Sams' focus in the article is to determine the relative "clutchness" of Kobe vs. LeBron vs. Wade, while sprinkling in other NBA players with similar clutch chances, in varying definitions of clutchness.

When Sams narrowed the clutch rules to include only shot attempts to tie or take the lead in the 4th quarter or overtime of a game, playoffs included, Kobe has the highest total volume of clutch attempts in the last 12 years, but Dirk, LeBron and Ray Allen made a better percentage of their shots in that situation. In fact, Dirk wipes the floor with the others.

Sams does some more variations as well, including limiting the "clutch" comparisons to playoffs-only and LeBron/Wade/Kobe only.

Fascinating results, folks. You really, really need to hit the link above and look at the pretty tables. Sams even figured out how to put sortable tables in there! You can sort any column any way you want. I like.

The other thing I like about this article is the cleanliness of the writing. Tables, bullet-points and experience-based observations - after the jump, anyway - on a topic that many people have strong predispositions about.

Read it. You will be a better person for it.

A Statistical Analysis Of Clutch NBA Shooters Since 2000 - Jordan Sams

In the NBA, the term ‘clutch', is defined as "the plays that occur during the 4th quarter or overtime, with less than five minutes remaining, and neither team ahead by more than five points". But the public perception of clutch goes beyond that.

Players are usually classified as "clutch" or "unclutch" based solely on their ability or inability to make the final shot of a close game. Basically, the first 47 minutes and 59 seconds are insignificant, as long as you're in position to win the game, and proceed to do so by making a clutch final shot.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are the poster children for this discussion.

Back to our own Steve Nash for a moment:

*50/40/90 - a year in which the player made at least 50% of all field goal attempts, 40% of all 3-point shot attempts and 90% of all free throws.

Steve Nash has accomplished this feat 4 times in his NBA career, all with the Suns. Only one other NBA player has done it more than once (Larry Bird) and only 6 other players did it even once. One of those players is Steve Kerr, who never started a game but played enough minutes to qualify for the scoring title.

In Nash's last 6 seasons, he only missed 50/40/90 by a hair in 2006-07 and in 2010-11. By this measure - 49/39/89 - the total all-time list grows to 21 total player-seasons (of which Nash has 6) among 13 individual players. Interestingly, two other former Suns met this 49/39/89 criteria: Kyle Macy and Jeff Hornacek.

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