Decision Making for Basketball Clutch Shots - A Data Driven Approach

17 May 2022, 14:00 
zoom & Room 206 
Decision Making for Basketball Clutch Shots - A Data Driven Approach

Yuval Eppel, M.Sc. student at the Department of Industrial Engineering

17 May 2022, 14:00 PM, Room 206& via zoom


In the game of Basketball, decision-making is considered as one of the most important aspects for winning a game. In the final minutes of the game (clutch time), these decisions become even more crucial. In particular – who shall take the final, game winning shots? While some coaches believe it is the team’s star, others may prefer the ‘clutch’ player (who seemingly performs better in clutch time), or the ‘hot’ player who was having a great game that night. So far, most studies focused separately on the hot-hand or the clutch player phenomena. In this work we suggest a more general approach, and study policy making in clutch minutes. Specifically, we introduce different policies for choosing the shot taker (for example, according to field goal percentage). Then, we compare the policies and rank them to create policies hierarchy, which serves as a decision guide for the coach. Using data from 25 NBA seasons, we show that when our recommendations are implemented (i.e., the highest ranked player takes the shot) the success rate is significantly higher: 51.2%, compared to 41.3% in commonly taken clutch shots.


Yuval Eppel, M.Sc. student at the department of Industrial Engineering in Tel Aviv University, specializing in sports analytics. Yuval holds a B.SC. degree in Industrial Engineering from Tel Aviv University. His research focuses on the question of clutch shots selection in basketball. This research is supervised by Dr. Mor Kaspi and Dr. Amichai Painsky.

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