The fast player’s efficiency rating

Although basketball has been around for almost 125 years, it is a sport that continues to grow 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 Rating (PER) developed by John Hollinger a few years ago.

In general, this rating is designed to reduce all of a player’s contributions to one number. Using a detailed formula, Hollinger developed a system that rates each player’s statistical performance.

The average rating for players in the National Basketball Association is 15.0. NBA superstars are frequently rated in the top 20. College and high school grades will be significantly lower than the NBA, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The formula Hollinger uses is complex, but I think it’s a very accurate view of how a player is performing while 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 assess a player’s performance a little faster than using the formula Hollinger uses.

Fortunately, I it was able to find a much easier way to rate players. While this method was easier to calculate, I found it to be very effective and accurate when it came to determining players’ playing time and predicting who would receive year-end honors. The version of PER you used most often determined which players were most effective in certain lineups, against certain teams, and their overall positive contribution to their team.

If you are a coach, you may know that you receive a score box between quarters or at half time. This was a time when I dutifully scribbled notes to determine the player’s PER.

Let me explain.

Instead of using Hollinger’s formula. I simplified it by looking 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 towards qualification. So if a player has 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block, that would total 27…so far.

I subtract the number of negative things that happen in a game. Therefore, turnovers (TO), missed field goals (FG), missed 3-pointers (3 points), and missed free throws (FT) count as -1. I don’t 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 in FG, 3-5 in FT, 2-4 in 3pts and also had 3 TO, this would equate to a total of 14 negatives (-7 for FG, -2 for FTs, -2 for 3pts, -3 for TOs = 14).

Now, remember, this same player had scored 27 plus points. But due to missed shots and turnovers, we need to take away 14 of those points, leaving this player with an adjusted PER of 13. Players who are inefficient will certainly suffer in this ranking.

I found this quick version of PER extremely useful because I could do the calculations for each player while in the locker room or on the bench. If you do this rating consistently for at least one season, you can determine what the average PER would be for your player types. You can also determine who is likely to be nominated for an award at the end of the season. You can also determine who deserves more game time.

That’s where I found this most useful. If a player only played a few minutes per game, but had a high PER, he would advocate more playing time for that player.

You might think that a PER is always obvious. It’s not, mate. Sometimes, you will see that according to the PER, some players are helping you much more than they are hurting you or vice versa.

This quick PER 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 a lot of advanced metrics available during my coaching days, but this PER allowed our team to win a division championship.

As with any stat, it should be taken in the context of the game. That’s not saying it all, just as a score chart isn’t always an accurate reflection of the game. But, this rating can certainly come in handy.

My hope is that it will be useful to you as well. Good luck, coach!

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