In a summer in which the Brooklyn Nets have mostly been praised for their aggressive offseason, there have been few NBA scribes who believe that the team didn't have a winning summer, which is certainly something that we can debate and then conclude, "we'll find out in June, won't we?"
One argument we haven't heard much this summer, if at all, is that the Nets and their near $200 million payroll (give or take, when you include the tax money owed) isn't high enough.
Enter Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld who wonders on paper whether or not the Nets did enough this summer to improve their team, after bringing in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson.
Ingram's theory is that while the Nets are likely a Top-4 team in the Eastern Conference, they just don't have the closer (or closers) that teams like the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls have. He uses the Clutch metric, I think, which is defined as a player's performance in the final fives minutes of a game when his team is either winning or losing by five points or fewer.
Three minutes left, Nets down five… who wins the game for them? Contenders have an answer to that question, and four other Eastern Conference teams have at least one sure-fire answer. For Miami it’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade; for Indiana it’s Paul George and Danny Granger; for Chicago it’s Derrick Rose and a nice combination of Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. The Knicks even have a better answer, with Carmelo Anthony ranking as the seventh-best clutch player in the NBA.
That’s $102.2 million in payroll, some $80 million in tax and still no one to reliably deliver when the Nets need a basket in crunch time?
Ingram notes that with his metric, Deron Williams ranked 56th in clutch delivery, Joe Johnson was 31st and while Brook Lopez was 12th, he notes that the Nets lost 67 percent of their games that were decided in the final five minutes.
There are a few issues with what Ingram uses to determine clutch, because these numbers just don't seem to be correct.
First, the 67 percent statistic is completely wrong. Like, dead wrong. He phrases it as such: "the Nets still lost 67 percent of their games that were decided in the final five minutes." Wrong.
According to NBA.com/stats, the Nets were 26-14 in Clutch situations, giving them a .650 winning percentage -- which was the third best in the NBA, behind only the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
As for Joe Johnson, our own Reed Wallach pointed out in his profile of Johnson that the Nets guard hit 10-of-13 shots with the game closer than five points and less than a minute remaining; 9-of-10 with the game closer than three points and 4-of-4 in the final 10 seconds when the margin is 3 points or fewer. Ben Couch of the Nets also notes that Johnson was tied for 9th in scoring with James Harden in clutch situations in the final two minutes of games.
One interesting note, while Johnson was 9th, his new teammate Kevin Garnett finished 10th and Paul Pierce was 12th. As for Williams, yes, he had shooting issues in clutch situations, but as Nets fans know, he was deadly from the free-throw line, hitting over 90 percent of his free throws in the final five minutes of clutch games -- he was third in the NBA in free throws made in the Clutch. Williams also finished with a 23-14 record (.622) in the clutch, which, well, isn't all that bad, right?
It can all get a little complicated, because numbers can fluctuate when you move clutch minutes from five down to -- what some could argue is a more solid indicator of clutch-ness -- two minutes, but one thing we do know is that the Nets were good in the clutch. And so too, for that matter, were the newest Nets, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Could they use upgrades and would spending more money help? Sure, I suppose you can make that argument for any team -- who is perfect, right? But one could also argue that saying the Bulls have a more clutch roster because of Derrick Rose (an unknown, still) and the Pacers will be better this season with a healthy Danny Granger (who played a total of 67 games over the last two seasons), that seems to be crediting the "what if" while discrediting the "what actually was."
- NBA Sunday: Brooklyn Nets Haven’t Spent Enough? - Bill Ingram - HOOPSWORLD