Sam Hinkie loves to use advanced metrics when he is rating players. Basketball metrics have really come a long way in recent years. Basketball-reference.com offers advanced metrics for every player in the league and NBA.com has gone so far as to offer a metric look at all games played since 1946. NBA2k ranks players in season and career mode using basic metric stats as well. In short, what was once available only to those who subscribed to exclusive newletters is now available to anyone at all times.
I don’t claim to understand the metrics inside and out and I certainly don’t have access to formulas and programs that Hinkie uses. I was late to the party and I’m playing catch-up now. It seems that metrics and basketball are a very good fit because players are involved in some way on every possession on both side of the court. APBRmetrics (Association for Professional Basketball Research metrics) are the standard used by people inside and outside of the game to break it down for analysis. They involve what are essentially complex mathematical equations which are applied to every facet of the game. They look at what a team does for every 100 possessions it has and every 100 possessions it defends.
They also look at what a player does during each minute he is on the court. Again, they rate what he does on offense and what he does on defense. This is known as his player efficiency rating (PER). John Hollinger, formerly of ESPN, now the VP of Basketball Operations for the Grizzlies is the father of this statistic. The Grizzlies made radical moves, including trading Rudy Gay based on Hollinger’s statistical analysis of the team. Its been said that Lionel Hollins, the team’s former coach was dismissed partially because of his unwillingness to factor numbers presented by Hollinger into his game plan. That’s power, the same kind of power that Sam Hinkie has been given by Sixers ownership.
So what are these stats and what do they mean? Here’s a basic breakdown:
This is a team metric which simply measures how often a team scores during a game. It does not take free throws into account because they are not considered a possession. It also does not take offensive rebounds into account because they simply allow a team to keep possession.
This is another metric which just measures points allowed, excluding free throws, per every 100 possessions.
Player Efficiency Rating
This is a player specific metric which breaks down what a player does every minute he is on the court. It looks at scoring, broken down into type, from free throw to three pointer, assists, rebounds, blocks, steals, missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. An average player has a PER of 15.00 and the stats go from there. Michael Jordan is the all-time leader in PER coming in at 27.91. However, the stat does not work for anyone prior to 1978 because the league did not keep stats on turnovers, so all you Wilt fans still have a leg to stand on. A PER of 30 in a given season is considered the gold-standard, and it has been accomplished only 18 times.
Effective Field Goal %
Three-pointers are worth more points than inside shots and lay-ups. This is a fact, but proponents of analytics feel that this fact is often hidden by shooting stats. Basically, a player will shoot a lower percentage on three-point shots because they are harder to make, but will benefit his team just as much or more by making those shots because they are worth one more point than a layup. The stat basically evens the playing field as far as shooting percentage goes.
True Shooting %
This is essentially Effective Feild Goal % with free throws added to the mix.
This looks at how many rebounds a player grabs in a game vs. how many rebounds were available to grab in a game.
Win Shares basically try and put a number on how an individual player’s performance on both offense and defense in a game contributes to each win. They can be positive or negative, meaning they measure how much a player helps and hurts his team throughout a season on each end of the court. They are a stat used by Basketball-Reference.com derived from Bill James’ baseball formula. Follow the link for a much better and more detailed explanation of the stat than I can provide or understand.
Again, I’m sure Sam Hinkie and other GMs use more advanced and secretive analysis than are available to the likes of a part-time blogger who sucks at math. I think though, that these metrics are pretty easy for the layman to understand and apply. Now the question is, how do these apply to the Sixers? Stay tuned…