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The Quick Player Efficiency Rating
Although basketball has been around for almost 125 years, it is a sport that continues to grow when it comes to analysis. Over the past few years, more and more information has been passed on to players and coaches in the form of advanced statistics. One of my favorites is the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) developed by John Hollinger a few years ago.
Overall, this rating is designed to summarize all of a player’s contributions into a single number. Using a detailed formula, Hollinger has developed a system that evaluates each player’s statistical performance.
The average National Basketball Association player rating is 15.0. NBA superstars often have a rating in their upper twenties. College and high school grades will be significantly lower than NBA grades, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
The formula Hollinger uses is complex, but I think it’s a very accurate view of a player’s performance on the pitch. For this reason, during my days as an assistant coach at the collegiate level, I wanted to determine if I could find a way to evaluate a player’s performance a little faster than using the formula used by Hollinger.
Fortunately, I has been able to find a much easier way to rate players. Although this method is easier to calculate, I found it to be very efficient and accurate when it came to determining a player’s playing time and predicting who would receive year-end honors. The version of the PER that I used frequently determined which players were most effective in certain formations, against certain teams, and their overall positive contribution to their team.
If you’re a coach, you might know that you receive a box score between quarters or at halftime. It was a time when I diligently scribbled down notes to determine the player’s PER.
Let me explain.
Instead use Hollinger’s formula. I simplified it by looking at a player’s positive contributions such as points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocks and totaling those up. Each positive contribution counts for one point in the scoring. So if a player has 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, that would be a total of 27… so far.
I subtract the number of negative things that happen in a game. So turnovers (TO), missed field goals (FG), missed 3pts (3pts) and missed free throws (FT) all count as -1. I don’t count fouls as negatives, because fouls can be good or bad, depending on the situation. So let’s say the same player above shot 3-10 on FGs, 3-5 on FTs, 2-4 on 3pts and also had 3 TOs, that would equal a total of minus 14 (-7 for FGs, – 2 for FTs, -2 for 3pts, -3 for TOs = 14).
Now remember, that same player had 27 pluses. But due to missed shots and turnovers, we have to take away 14 of those points, leaving this player with an adjusted PER of 13. Ineffective players will certainly suffer from this rating.
This quick version of the PER was extremely useful to me because I could do the calculation for each player in the locker room or on the bench. If you perform this assessment consistently for at least one season, you can determine what an average PER would be for your player types. You can also determine who is likely to be in contention for an award at the end of the season. You can also determine who deserves more playing time.
This is where I found it the most useful. If a player was only playing a few minutes per game, but had a high PER, I would advocate more playing time for that player.
You might think that a PER is always obvious. It is not, my friend. Sometimes you will be able to see that, according to the PER, some players help you much more than they hurt you or vice versa.
This fast PER was so useful to me when I was an assistant coach that I asked my assistants to use it when I became a head coach. We didn’t have an abundance of advanced metrics available to us during my days as a coach, but this PER helped our team win a division championship.
As with any stat, it should be taken in the context of the game. It’s not revealing, just as a box score isn’t always an accurate reflection of the game. But, this rating can certainly be useful.
I hope it will be useful to you as well. Good luck, coach!
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