Timeproof: The BCL's most clutch players
MIES (Switzerland) - The clock can do strange things in basketball games. You look up above the backboard and see three minutes to go, no problem that's three, maybe even four possessions each. A ten-point lead can melt in three possessions. Then you miss an open shot and the next time you look up it says two minutes, 20 seconds, now you are still down ten but you probably only get two more possessions each before you have to consider ways to stop the clock. Now you can't miss again and the pressure is really piling on. These are the moments when time can bend ordinarily good decision-makers into jittery mistake-makers. These are also the moments when you put the ball in the hands of your leader, your ice-cold, timeproof, game-winner.
So, who are the kings in the clutch so far this season? Who are the BCL's most time-proof players after seven games of season seven? To answer these questions we jumped into the data and looked at a combination of Viziball's "Clutchness Index" and also scoring in the fourth quarter of games with a score differential of fewer than 10 points.
Points scored in the fourth quarter of close games: 19
Oh how good it is to have you in the #BasketballCL finally!@BKBasketbol's Jamar Smith made a career of hitting clutch shots, of course he got one in his first BCL game, too! 🧊🥶 pic.twitter.com/TW2QoCmBHe— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) October 5, 2022
The tweet above just about says it all. Jamar Smith has been doing this for some time so it should come as no surprise to see him already doing it in the BCL. However, with the format of the BCL Regular Season, it's not just game-winners that can be clutch. When head-to-head scores are so important, sometimes the most important points of the season can also come at the end of a loss. Jamar Smith scored 11 points in Bahcesehir's loss on the road against ERA Nymburk. At one point his team was down by as much as eight in the fourth quarter. Thanks to Smith's clutch shot at the death, they lost the game by just one. In the return leg, Bahcesehir won the game by, yep you guessed it, eight points. If it comes down to a battle between Nymburk and Bahcesehir for qualification to the next rounds, those fourth-quarter points will have been the difference. Jamar Smith has already won one game and decided the tie-breaker in another series. Clutch indeed.
Points scored in the fourth quarter of close games: 29
Talking of head-to-heads, Adam Smith has directly had his hands on (scored or assisted) 26 points across both fourth quarters of Surne Bilbao's last two games against Igoke m:tel. And guess what? the two teams split the games with Bilbao owning the head-to-head by just one point...If Bilbao makes it through at the expense of Igokea, they will owe a large part of that to Adam Smith
Points scored in the fourth quarter of close games: 26
In reality, we didn't even need to count the fourth-quarter scoring of SIG Strasbourg's close games because they only do close games. Saying that, Matt Mitchell also gives us a chance to highlight that the clutchness index is extra useful because it includes big defensive plays in winning time, not just the scoring (as you can see from the clip above). We should also mention that there is clutch and then there is SIG Strasbourg clutch. Playing for the SIG Men requires players to have a whole new threshold for clutch situations. Forget close games having a score differential of fewer than 10 points, 24 of Mitchell's 26 points have been scored when the differential was fewer than five points. This is just what Mitchell and SIG do every week,
Points scored in the fourth quarter of close games: 22
The chances of Dylan Ennis being on this list are high not just this season but every season he's played in the BCL. Ennis seems to be enjoying himself to the fullest whenever he's on the court and that's most likely why he seems to not just deflect pressure but almost search out high-pressure situations. Ennis isn't the father of the "30-foot Layup" for no reason. Galata just secured one of our most fiercely contested head-to-head duels this season against Hapoel Atsmon Holon. Ennis scored 14 points and assisted another five in the fourth quarters of those decisive games.
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Points scored in the fourth quarter of close games: 16
What else do we need to say about Joe Ragland? Hapoel Atsmon Holon have such a great roster this year and so many players that Guy Goodes can lean on when it gets to winning time. But regardless of that, we all know who is going to have the ball in their hands and we all know there isn't much the defense can do about it. The chances of Joe Ragland coming up with a big bucket when Holon needs it are only eclipsed by the chances of him throwing a killer assist. Please see Exhibit A below. Also worth noting is that Ragland didn't just create that game-winner against Filou Oostende, he also scored eight points and came up with a huge steal in that vital win.
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