Barnes: PART 2

Harrison Barnes' Clutch-Shooting Statistics

October 5th, 2011

Jordan Rogers

(This is PART 2 of's Three Part Series on Harrison Barnes. If you missed PART 1, you can find it here.)

I hate clichés so figuring out how to open this piece was a struggle. How do you begin an article on Barnes' clutch play without a ridiculous phrase like "Webster's defines clutch as ______" or something similar? Sports-commentary is usually about 90% clichés anyways. What chance does a writer have to stay original? Would I even want to?

Barnes started to get a lot of attention last season after knocking down several big time shots like it was his job.1 That attention should come as no surprise because there is really nothing in sports more entertaining than crunch-time performance. It's why we'll watch any game going into overtime even if we've never heard of either team. It's why Jordan and Bird have bronze statues in their honor.2 It's how a role player with barely average career statistics can earn the nickname 'Big Shot'.3

But mathematicians and stat-guru's been trying to prove for the better part of a decade that 'clutchness' is a myth. It's like all the egg-heads (resenting the athletically gifted) decided to get in a room and destroy what fans love most. It started with the 'Moneyball' generation of statisticians who decided that sports (mostly baseball) could be perfectly explained with statistics. Eventually jerks4 everywhere were looking up Jordan or Kobe's game-winning shot attempts and 'proving' that they were no different than their regular numbers.5

It was only a matter of time before some snarky fan decided to prove that Barnes wasn't the clutch performer he was being touted as. Barnes had hit a couple big shots in close games (Virginia Tech, Texas, Miami). But when he launched that dagger in Tallahassee he solidified his reputation as a clutch shooter. Whether that label was deserved or not, it would only be a matter of time before it was disproven by statistics, right? charted every field-goal Barnes attempted in the last four minutes, two minutes, and one minute of each game in 2010-2011. But, we only recorded an attempt if the game was within FIVE points at the time. So not only do we have his stats at the end of games, but the end of close games. We also decided to add a category for game deciding moments, cleverly named -- get excited -- Game-Deciding Shots. A Game-Deciding Shot must take place in the final 35 seconds, and the game must be within one possession (three points). This is what we found:

5≤  Points FGM/FGA FG% 3FGM/3FGA 3FG%
Final 4 Min 18 / 30 60% 10 / 16 63%
Final 2 Min 8 / 12 67% 7 / 9 78%
Final Min 4 / 7 57% 4 / 6 67%
Game-Deciding Shots 3 / 3 100% 3 / 3 100%

Let me know when you pick your jaw up off the floor. Just take a minute and let those numbers sink in. Pause for a moment. Stop looking for typos. Now pick your jaw up off the floor again. Let me be clear,6 we didn't rummage through his stats looking for the best figures or we would have dropped the 4 minute category all together.

Now it was no secret that Barnes was hitting a lot of big shots last season. But maybe because the "Moneyball" people have convinced us to think otherwise, I bet most savvy fans would assume that his end-of-game percentages would level out if you looked at the season as a whole; or they would at least be closer to his overall averages.

But they weren't. Barnes was essentially a perfect 100% when the game was literally on the line, and shot somewhere between 60% and 80% in close end-of-game scenarios. That is mind boggling. I'm aware of the comparatively small sample size; but we are talking an entire season, it's not like that was a single stretch.

According to most Ken Pomeroy ratings and conventional stats Barnes did have an above average season. But how many of these so called ratings took into account the shots that actually win games? That has to be more important than a high efficiency rating in the opening five minutes.

Apart from being a giant "F U" to the "Moneyball" crowd, shouldn't Barnes' clutch-stats above prove that we need a better way to compare player ratings other than simply using conventional totals? Where is Ken Pomeroy at on this one?

ESPN has finally came around and launched the Total QB Rating for the NFL, which takes into account game situation, time remaining and other qualitative stats. But it is embarrassing that it took us almost two decades of the Internet-Era to figure this out. It makes no sense that John Hollinger's PER still counts a rebound from the first minute in the same way as a three pointer in the final seconds; all because of some book and its cheesy movie.7

But back to Barnes. Could anyone in the nation stack up to what Barnes was doing in crunch-time?8 Should I post the table again just so you believe it's real?9 Did I intentionally leave this piece vague so I can explain what it all means in Part 3?10

5≤  Points FGM/FGA FG% 3FGM/3FGA 3FG%
Final 4 Min 18 / 30 60% 10 / 16 63%
Final 2 Min 8 / 12 67% 7 / 9 78%
Final Min 4 / 7 57% 4 / 6 67%
Game-Deciding Shots 3 / 3 100% 3 / 3 100%

(This is Part 2 of's series on Harrison Barnes. For the continued discussion The Black Falcon, click here for Part 3. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.)

Jordan Rogers is the Creator and Chief-Editor of Contact him or find his other articles here.

Comment via Twitter:



@BlackFalcon_net - - Barnes: PART 2 - Harrison Barnes' Clutch Stats!!

5 Oct

Dollars4Ballers Dollars For Ballers

@BlackFalcon_net - Love the Harrison Barnes Clutch Stats... Keep them coming!!

5 Oct

RLackieBball Rob Lackie

@BlackFalcon_net - - thats sick- Barnes is wet in the clutch

5 Oct

seiwertsystem Neal Seiwert

Harrison Barnes clutch stats deciding shots 3/3FG, 3/3 3pt 100%..courtesy of This kid is for real people

5 Oct

828rayray Ray Evans

@BlackFalcon_net cant wait for the season to get under way barnes is a stud nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!

13 Oct

Daily Musing

You've reached the Archives

  1. Technically, I guess it is his job.
  2. Bird's statue isn't built yet, but it's in the works.
  3. You can admit that The moment you saw this piece was about "clutchness", you started wondering how long it would take for a Big Shot Bob reference to appear. For those who guessed correctly, enjoy this and this.
  4. How do you know they're jerks? Because they always try to DISPROVE fan's long-held beliefs, like the idea of clutch. Why don't they ever try to PROVE long-held beliefs? Like, which provided answers to some long-held stereotypes about Carolina and Duke player's success levels in the NBA. The numbers don't lie.
  5. What they never mention is how much more difficult an end-of-game shot are than normal attempts. The defense is twice as intense, not to mention the pressure. So if a player hits 50% of game-winning attempts, isn't that much more significant than shooting 50% throughout a normal game?
  6. Obligatory Obama reference.
  7. This movie won't necessarily suck; the premise is great. But Pitt was the wrong guy. Why pick an actor mostly known for his looks to play a statistics-nerd? Kevin Spacey would have been great in this role.
  8. No.
  9. Yes.
  10. Definitely.