Although basketball has been around for almost 125 years, it is a sport that is still growing when it comes to analytics. In recent years, more and more information is being sent to players and coaches in the form of advanced statistics. One of my favorites is the Player Efficiency Ratio (PER) developed by John Hollinger a few years ago.
Generally, this rating is designed to summarize all of a player’s contributions in one number. Using a detailed formula, Hollinger developed a system that rates the statistical performance of each player.
The average rating for National Basketball Association players is 15.0. NBA superstars typically have a rating in the top 20. High school and high school scores will be significantly lower than the NBA, but I’ll talk about that in a moment.
The formula Hollinger uses is complex, but I think it’s a very accurate view of how a player is performing on the court. 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 evaluate a player’s performance a little faster than using the formula Hollinger uses.
Luckily i was able to find a much easier way to rate players. While this method was easier to calculate, I found it to be highly effective and accurate when it came to determining the player’s playing time and predicting who would receive the year-end honors. The version of PER that I used frequently determined which players were most effective in certain rosters, against certain teams, and their overall positive contribution to their team.
If you are a coach, you may know that you receive a box score between quarters or at half time. This was a time when I diligently wrote notes to determine the player’s PER.
Let me explain.
Instead of using Hollinger’s formula. I simplified it by taking a look at the positive contributions a player makes, like points, rebounds, steals, assists, and blocks and adding those things up. Each positive contribution counts as one point for grading. So if a player has 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block, that would add up to a total of 27… so far.
I remain the number of negative things that happen in a game. So Turnovers (TO), Missed Field Goals (FG), Missed 3s (3 points) and Missed Free Kicks (FT) count as -1. I do not count fouls as negative points, because fouls 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 3 TO, this would equate to a total of 14 negatives (-7 for FG, -2 for FT, -2 for 3 points, -3 for TO = 14).
Now remember, this same player had scored 27 plus points. But due to missed shots and turnovers, we must take 14 of those points away, leaving this player with an adjusted PER of 13. Players who are inefficient will certainly suffer at this rating.
I found this quick version of the PER extremely useful because I could do the calculations for each player while in the locker room or on the bench. By doing this rating consistently for at least one season, you can determine what the average PER would be for your type of players. You can also determine who is likely to be running for an award at the end of the season. You can also determine who deserves more playing time.
That is where I found this 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’s not, friend. Sometimes you can see that according to the PER some players are helping you a lot more than they are hurting you or vice versa.
This quick PER was so helpful to me during my time as an assistant coach, that I needed my assistants to use it when I became a head coach. We didn’t have a lot of advanced metrics available during my coaching days, but this PER allowed our team to win a divisional championship.
As with any statistic, it must be taken in the context of the game. It doesn’t say it all, just as a box score is not always an accurate reflection of the game. But this rating can certainly be helpful.
I hope it is useful to you too. Good luck, coach!