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5 Candidates for the NBA's Newest Award

The NBA now has an award that rewards the league's most clutch player for that season. So who are the early candidates for this new award?

Photo By: Alika Jenner (Getty Images North America)

The NBA has announced yesterday that they have added the Jerry West Clutch Player of the Year, which is rewarded through a media vote to the league's most clutch player of that season. Fans and media alike have debated this very topic for DECADES, and Adam Silver is making this into an official title for the foreseeable future. So who leads in this new award? Who will have a shot? I'll put down my 5 leaders and give a quick explanation.

1. Damian Lillard, POR

If this award was given out for the last 10ish years, Lillard would be an 8-time winner. Lillard has been regarded as the most clutch player in the league for a long time now, and he's continuing that this season as well. In 9 "clutch-time" games Lillard has averaged 5.1 PPG on 48% from the field and 43% from 3 (1.6 attempts). He is shooting the ball a bunch of times and making a good amount of them. To go along with his dominant play, Lillard also has hit a few game-winners (vs. Lakers, Suns) and assisted on a game-winner (Josh Hart vs. Heat). So he's making plays when it counts and rarely messes up. He has some of the best clutch stats and has made game-winning plays. Seems clutch to me.

2. Brandon Ingram, NOP

Unfortunately for Brandon and Pelicans fans, we haven't been able to see much of Ingram this year due to a toe contusion. However, they are currently tied atop of the tight Western Conference without him. But when he does play, the Pelicans have been in some close matches, and the Pelicans star has closed out some tough games for them. He had an incredibly clutch performance over a month ago against DeRozan and the Bulls. In that game, he went back and forth with DeMar but ultimately came on top with 7 points in 2 minutes to close the game out. In 4 clutch games, he's averaged 5.0 PPG (3rd in league) on 58% from the field and 50% from 3. He hasn't had a lot of attempts, but he's making them count when he shoots. We hope to see Ingram back on the court soon and try to win this award.

3. De'Aaron Fox, SAC

Fox has quietly had an underrated season for the 14-12 Kings. He's also been the least talked about clutch player in the league. This season he's averaging 4.2 PPG in the clutch and shooting crazy percentages from the field (63%) and three (57%). In recent seasons, Fox has always been near the top of clutch points per game. That is no different for 2022, as he has 50 total points in the clutch, which would be good enough for 7th in the league. He's doing all that in just 12 games, while the others ahead of him all have closer to 15 played games (except for Brunson). The Kings are lighting the beam in large part due to Fox's magnificent scoring in the clutch.

4. Jalen Brunson, NYK

Jalen Brunson has been a big pickup all-around for the Knicks this season. Alongside Julius Randle, he's led a subpar Knicks team to the 6th seed in the East. They wouldn't have been able to win as many games as they've had without Brunson's clutch play. In the clutch, Brunson is averaging 4.7 PPG (4th in league) on 49% from the field and 43% from 3. The Knicks' recent signee has had huge games against the Hornets, Trail Blazers, and Cavaliers. While the shot hasn't always fallen for Brunson, the Knicks have shown they're willing to lean on him as their top shot-creator in the clutch.

5. AJ Griffin, ATL

Unconventional pick here. However, the 16th overall pick out of Duke has had some incredibly clutch game-winning shots this season. There have been just 6 game-winners this season, and 2 of them have come from AJ Griffin. We all remember the shot from just a few days ago against the Bulls where Griffin was turned around and threw up a game-winning alley-oop. Then just a few weeks ago he had another buzzer-beating alley-oop off a Trae Young feed. The likelihood he wins this award is slim, but the rookie is making the right plays at the right time for Atlanta.

Honorable Mentions: Joel Embiid (PHI), Kevin Durant (BKN), Jerami Grant (POR), DeMar DeRozan (CHI), Anfernee Simons (POR).


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