The NBA crowned its first-ever Clutch Player of the Year in 2022-23, an honor that’s given to the best “clutch" performer in the league. Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox took home the inaugural award after leading the league in clutch scoring with 194 points.
When you think of clutch players, guys that come to mind should be those who are unafraid to take a potential game-winning shot or have the ball in their hands when things are going down to the wire. DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler finished second and third, respectively, in last year’s race.
Betting odds have since been released for the 2023-24 NBA Clutch Player of the Year. Below, I’ll provide a look at some of the best bets you can make, as well as a few sleeper choices.
NBA Clutch Player of the Year Odds 2023
These NBA lines are current as of Friday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. ET and courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
- De’Aaron Fox (+1200)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1200)
- Luka Dončić (+1200)
- Devin Booker (+1600)
- Damian Lillard (+1600)
- Donovan Mitchell (+1700)
- Anthony Edwards (+1800)
- Kevin Durant (+1800)
All other players have (+2000) odds or longer.
What Is Clutch Scoring?
Clutch scoring isn’t defined simply as a game-winning bucket or a dagger to ice it. A specific set of conditions must be met for baskets to be considered “clutch" points.
According to the NBA, clutch time occurs when there are five or fewer minutes left in a game and the scoring margin is five points or less. So long as a bucket is scored within those parameters, it’ll count toward a player’s clutch points.
With that in mind, the best betting strategy you can take into this race is targeting players who take part in many close games and are the No. 1 option for their respective teams.
Who Will Win NBA Clutch Player of the Year?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder (+1200)
DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 Unit
Gilgeous-Alexander is in an excellent “clutch" scenario with the Thunder. In addition to serving as the team’s top offensive option — he averaged nearly 15 points per game more than their second-leading scorer — Oklahoma City went 40-42 this past year, which suggests it played things close.
Of Gilgeous-Alexander’s 68 games played in 2022-23, 38 of those qualified for clutch time. He scored 128 points in those scenarios, ranking ninth in the league in clutch scoring.
The Thunder are trending up and figure to get a nice boost from Chet Holmgren this year, but as one of the most experienced players on the roster, the ball will continue to end up in SGA’s hands when it matters most.
With Gilgeous-Alexander emerging as one of the game’s top players, now is the time to lock him in with your NBA bet of the day.
NBA Clutch Player of the Year Favorites
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings (+1200)
The reigning Clutch Player of the Year comes in at (+1200) odds to earn the honor again in 2023-24, putting him in a three-way tie of odds-on favorites.
Fox was the runaway winner this past season, and it wasn’t particularly close. His 194 clutch points were 35 more than anyone else could manage, and he shot 52.9% from the field in clutch situations — nearly a two-point increase over the 51.2% mark he posted during the regular season.
A repeat performance isn’t impossible, but I wouldn’t count on it happening. At this price, there are better plays to make.
Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks (+1200)
Dončić has been one of the more clutch players in the league since his rookie season. By the numbers, this past year was his best in terms of clutch scoring, tying Joel Embiid for seventh place with 131 points.
The two main factors working against Dončić in 2022-23 were health and the presence of another star. He appeared in 66 total games (41 clutch) and was flanked by Kyrie Irving over the final 20, who came in at No. 10 in clutch scoring this past season.
- See where the Mavericks stand in the latest NBA Western Conference odds.
Dallas having a second go-to option in tight games doesn’t bode well for Dončić’s chances of leading the league in clutch scoring, but if Irving is willing to give the ball up when it matters most, this bet may end up being one of the better ones on the board.
NBA Clutch Player of the Year Contenders
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (+1600)
This award was practically made for Lillard. However, following his trade request from the Trail Blazers, it’s worth wondering whether he’ll maintain his status as the undisputed No. 1 option once he finds a new home.
Additionally, despite a career’s worth of buzzer-beaters, Lillard wasn’t all that clutch in 2022-23. His 86 clutch points had him tied for 29th with Desmond Bane.
However, Portland’s lowly 33-49 record — and the fact that Lillard appeared in just 58 games last season — are likely to blame.
It’s far too early to rule Lillard out of this race, but I’m willing to wait a bit before backing him at (+1600) odds.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (+1600)
Suns star Devin Booker makes an appearance here at (+1600). He reached another level in the playoffs, but otherwise, I’m not finding a single good reason for him to be so high on this list.
Booker’s 64 clutch points in 2022-23 put him just outside the Top 50, which is unsurprising since he only appeared in 53 total games. However, even if he only misses a handful of contests this coming season, he’ll never be his team’s undisputed No. 1 option.
The presence of Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal seriously complicates things here. Both are more than capable of taking the final shots, which should limit the number of attempts Booker can get up.
NBA Clutch Player of the Year Sleepers
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls (+3000)
DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 0.5 Units
Despite the long (+3000) odds, DeRozan has sat near the top of the leaderboard in clutch scoring for four straight years. He’s finished fourth or better in clutch points each season going back to the 2019-20 campaign, including two second-place spots in 2021-22 and 2022-23.
What’s remarkable about DeRozan is his consistency in tight games. Just take a look at his clutch scoring totals over the last four seasons:
- 2019-20: 131 points, 50% FG
- 2020-21: 140 points, 45.2% FG
- 2021-22: 157 points, 53.5% FG
- 2022-23: 159 points, 47.1% FG
At this price, DeRozan is as good a bet as any to win Clutch Player of the Year. He’s bound to rise up the board once the season begins, so consider locking this one in now.
Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets (+3500)
Bridges looked the part of an All-Star down the stretch of the season for the Nets, averaging 26.1 points over 27 games. He’s become the top guy on this roster, and with Brooklyn shaping up to be a middle-of-the-pack team next year, I can’t help but wonder if Bridges will come up in the clutch.
He wasn’t much of a clutch scorer in 2022-23, dropping just 44 points in his time with the Suns and Nets, but there weren’t many opportunities for him, either. Just 10 of his 27 games in Brooklyn went to clutch time, and he wasn’t a go-to guy in Phoenix.
However, considering his new role — and the fact that he’s never missed a game in his NBA career — Bridges is someone worth keeping an eye on in this race.