Although basketball has been around for almost 125 years, it is a sport that continues to grow in terms of analysis. In recent years, more and more information is being 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 sum up all of a player’s contributions in one number. Using a detailed formula, Hollinger has developed a system that evaluates the statistical performance of each player.
The average rating for players in the National Basketball Association is 15.0. NBA superstars often have a note in the upper 20s. The college and high school grades will be significantly lower than the NBA, 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 floor. Because of this, during my days as an assistant coach at the college level, I wanted to determine if I could find a way to assess a player’s performance a little faster than using the formula Hollinger used.
Fortunately, I was able to find a much easier way to rate players. While this method is easier to calculate, I have found it to be very efficient and accurate when it comes to determining players’ playing time and predicting who would receive year-end honors. The version of 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 are a coach, you might know that you receive a box score between quarters or at halftime. It was a time when I was diligently jotting down notes to determine the player’s PER.
Let me explain.
Instead of using Hollinger’s formula. I simplified it by taking a look at a player’s positive contributions such as points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocks and totaling those things up. Each positive contribution counts as one point in the rating. So if a player has 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, that would add up to 27… until there.
I subtract the number of negative things that happen in a game. So, turnovers (TO), missed field goals (FG), 3 missed points (3 points) and missed free throws (FT) all count as -1.. I don’t count faults as negative points, as faults can be good or bad, depending on the situation. So let’s say the same player above shot 3-10 on FG, 3-5 on FT, 2-4 on 3pts and also had 3TB, that would equate to a total of 14 negatives (-7 for FG, -2 for FT, -2 for 3 points, -3 for TO = 14).
Now remember, that same player had scored 27 positives. But because of the missed shots and turnovers, we have to take 14 of those points, leaving this player with an adjusted PER of 13. Ineffective players will certainly suffer from this odds.
This quick version of PER was extremely helpful as I could do the math for each player in the locker room or on the bench. If you do this assessment consistently for at least one season, you can determine what an average PER would be for your types of players. You can also determine who will likely be vying for an award at the end of the season. You can also determine who deserves more playing time.
This is where I found it most useful. If a player was only playing a few minutes per game, but had a high PER, I would recommend more playing time for that player.
You might think that a PER is always obvious. It is not, my friend. Sometimes you might see that depending on the PER some players are helping you a lot more than they are hurting you or vice versa.
This quick RAP was so useful to me during my time as 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 at our disposal during my days as a coach, but this PER allowed our team to win a division championship.
As with any statistic, it should be taken in the context of the game. This does not say it all, just as a box score does not always accurately reflect the game. But, this note can certainly be useful.
Hope you find this helpful as well. Good luck, coach!