Clutch time in the NBA is defined as the last five minutes of a game that is within five points, so basically it’s just the end of close games.
The Pels haven’t been in many close games this season, as they usually either blow teams out or get blown out themselves.
The Pels’ are just 18th in the league offensively in clutch time as a team but are 10th in defensive efficiency in close games, so for once, their defense is not the problem.
Both Zion Wiliamson and Brandon Ingram have had the ball in their hands a lot more this season, but the Pels have usually turned to Ingram in these situations, though that is starting to change.
These two are the cornerstones of the Pels’ franchise and are going to be taking a lot of shots in the clutch for years to come.
But which player should be getting most of the shots? The answer is in the numbers.
Zion Wiliamson is a better clutch player than Brandon Ingram
At this point in their respective careers, Zion Williamson has been a better clutch player than Brandon Ingram, though neither of them have been spectacular.
Brandon Ingram is shooting just 29 percent in clutch-time situations, which is far below his normal 47 percent overall.
Same with Zion Williamson, who is much better at 47.1 percent in the clutch, but still much worse than his normal 61.6 percent shooting percentage for the season.
To put this in perspective, when you look at the top overall players in clutch time, Damian Lillard and James Harden, they are shooting 61.5 percent and 54.8 percent, respectively.
This has been a problem dating back to last season, when the Pelicans were the worst team in the NBA in clutch time. They have improved but still have a long way to go if they want to consistently win close games.
Brandon Ingram needs to get better, as he has been disappearing after the first quarter in too many games.
Hopefully, the big win against the Boston Celtics will start to turn things around, as both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram hit huge shots to tie the game or give the Pels the lead down the stretch.
Young teams often struggle when the game slows down, so the New Orleans Pelicans will almost certainly get better with increased reps in these situations.
But right now the numbers say they should be feeding Zion Williamson, who has been much better in the clutch and can also set up his teammates.