NBA standings based on crunch-time performance: Which team is most clutch?

Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards
Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards / David Berding/GettyImages
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1. Minnesota Timberwolves: 11-2

2. Dallas Mavericks: 11-5

3. Sacramento Kings: 10-5

4. Utah Jazz: 10-5

5. Denver Nuggets: 13-7

6 Oklahoma City Thunder: 11-7

7. Los Angeles Lakers: 9-6

8. Golden State Warriors: 14-14

9. LA Clippers: 8-8

10. Phoenix Suns: 9-11

11. New Orleans Pelicans: 6-8

12. Portland Trail Blazers: 7-10

13. Memphis Grizzlies: 5-8

14. Houston Rockets: 6-11

15. San Antonio Spurs: 3-13

Not only do the Timberwolves have the best record in the West but they also have the best clutch record in the NBA. Thus far, the Wolves have played 13 games that qualify, with them coming away with 11 wins and just two losses. That overperformance in late-game situations has likely earned them at least three more wins, though their 85% win rate is sure to drop as the season wears on.

Interestingly enough, the Mavericks and Kings, who are currently sixth and fifth in the West, are the second and third-best teams in the conference in terms of late-game play. Compare that to the Nuggets and Thunder, who are second and third in the West but sixth and fifth in their clutch winning percentages. To the defending championship's credit, the Nuggets have played 20 games that qualify, resulting in more losses but also more experience that should help them in their title defense.

More late-game reps aren't always a good thing; just ask the Warriors, who have played a staggering 28 games in which they were leading or behind by five with five minutes left. They've managed to go 14-14 but considering they are 10th in the West, if they had a 60% win percentage—like most of the other playoff teams in the West—then they'd have at least 3 more wins and be in far better shape.

The Pelicans are tied for 6th in the West but are the fourth-worst team in the conference in these rankings, partly due to turnover issues. Lastly, the Spurs are a train wreck in both standings, despite Victor Wembanyama often coming up in late-game situations. Ultimately, late-game performance will continue to be something to watch since it could decide which teams make the NBA Finals.