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Ranking the NBA's most clutch players in 2021-22

Profile Picture: Rory Breasail

Rory Breasail

January 6th, 2022

DeMar DeRozan is having a myth-making kind of season. There are few more satisfying ways to win a game than hitting a big shot right at the buzzer. But doing that on back-to-back nights? That's something else new entirely. 

DeRozan had assured himself a return to the All-Star team this season even before his clutch victories over both the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards this past weekend. That got us thinking about who in the NBA this year has been coming up big when it matters most.

So today, we’re going to take you through the five most clutch players so far in the 2021-22 NBA season.

For the uninitiated, clutch time is officially defined as the final five minutes of games within five points or less (including overtime). The ability to create shots is equally important to clutch play, so this list isn’t a straight regurgitation of the most prodigious scorers in the clutch either. Players that don’t create their own shot are inherently dependent on others to make a winning play, so we’re focusing on the players who you most want with the ball in their hands. 

Without further ado, here are the five most clutch players in the NBA this year.

5. DENNIS SCHRODER (Celtics)

For all the Boston Celtics’ struggles this year, things would be a lot worse if not for the big-time shotmaking that Dennis Schroder has consistently provided down the stretch. Schroeder is 17-30 in the clutch for 50 total points this season.

His slashing and relentless driving adds an element that the Celtics are sorely missing otherwise. And critically, he is also 14-16 from the line, making him a go-to outlet when opposing teams are in a must-foul situation. Schroder has been more than worth his $5.9 million deal on the basis of his clutch play alone.

4. COLE ANTHONY (Magic)

Cole Anthony is only a second-year player, but he’s already proven to be a stone-cold gamer. He had multiple game-winners as a rookie and has already hit some equally audacious shots this season. Anthony in year one was a fun and occasionally productive player, but this year he’s taken his clutch shot creation to the next level.

While he hasn’t had as much luck from distance so far this year, his jumper from 2-point range has been money, and he’s 14-24 in the clutch overall for 41 points. He’s also gone 12-13 from the line.

3. KYLE KUZMA (Wizards)

If it feels like every time you flip over to a Wizards game this year that Kyle Kuzma is hitting a clutch 3, you’d be right. His masterpiece no doubt was only just last weekend, when he dropped 36 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and multiple daggers down the stretch that eventually led the Wizards to victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Kuzma is 12-24 from deep this year over a total of 78 minutes of clutch time played. He’s shooting 16-30 overall, 9-12 from the line, and has notched 53 points while helping the Wizards to a preposterous 15-4 record in games decided in the clutch.

2. CHRIS PAUL (Suns)

The Phoenix Suns have been one of the best clutch teams again in the NBA this year, and so one of Chris Paul or Devin Booker had to make this list. While Booker has been stupendous in his own right, he has been slightly shaky from the line (6-14) in tight games.

Paul, meanwhile, has been his usual Point God self. The Suns are a +53 in the clutch with CP3 on the court this season, which is the best mark in the NBA. He’s also gone 14-26 from the field and hit 19-23 from the line for 58 points over 52 minutes of clutch time.

Even at 36 years old, there is absolutely nothing teams can do stop Paul from getting to his spots on the court and getting a quality shot.

1. DEMAR DEROZAN (Bulls)

DeMar DeRozan became the first player ever to hit buzzer-beating 3s on back-to-back nights, and amusingly, those are the only two 3s he’s taken in the clutch all year. The rest of his scoring has been his bread and butter in the midrange. In a grueling 60 minutes of crunch time, DeRozan has added an eye-popping 72 points on 21-37 shooting.

And while some stars have been hit hard by the new rules around non-basketball plays, DeMar’s pump fake and pivot game are as deadly as ever. He’s gotten to the line 32 times in the clutch and has hit 28 of them for a cool 87.5% mark. DeRozan’s ability to close out games may propel him not only to an All-Star selection but to an All-NBA nod for the first time since 2018.

DeRozan is in complete command of the game right now and is approaching Steph Curry levels of "put down whatever you’re doing and get to a television now" when he’s cooking in the fourth quarter. He’s the NBA clutch king of 2021-22.

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