With the game on the line this season in the NBA, who would you want to have the ball at the end?  Kobe?  KD?  LeBron?  According to ESPN research, the best bet would be soon-to-be-named Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving.

Wrote ESPN about Kyrie, “The 20-year-old rookie leads the NBA in added usage in clutch situations.  He normally uses ‘just’ 27.9 percent of his team’s possessions, but when the going gets tough, Irving gets going.  In clutch situations, Irving raises his usage rate to 47.2 percent, which is tied for the highest in the NBA along with Carmelo Anthony.  And he’s not just chucking up shots like Anthony; Irving has made just as many crunch-time shots as Anthony in 28 fewer attempts.”

Largest increase in usage rate in clutch situations compared to overall usage rate (minimum 50 minutes of clutch play)…

Player                          FG% ClutchFG% USG% ClutchUSG% Diff%
Kyrie Irving               .468 .544 (31-57) 27.9 47.2 +19.3
Carmelo Anthony     .425 .365 (31-85) 31.2 47.2 +16.0
Chris Paul                  .484 .449 (40-89) 23.7 35.5 +11.8
Jarrett Jack               .456 .431 (22-51) 23.0 34.7 +11.6
Kevin Durant            .503 .406 (43-106) 30.5 41.5 +10.9

From ESPN: To measure this, we’ll call upon the usage rate statistic, which calculates how often a player uses a team’s possession while on the floor either by field goal attempt, free throw attempt or turnover.  And how do we define when the game is on the line?  For these purposes, we’ll adopt NBA.com’s definition of clutch situations: when the score margin is within five points in the final five minutes of the game.

Among the NBA’s top five in added usage in the clutch, only Kyrie has a higher field-goal percentage than in “non-clutch” situations.  When the game has been on the line, Kyrie has been at his best.  And better than anyone in the NBA this season.

Here is an example:

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