Efficiency Per Minute: Point Guards

Man, has it been that long? Almost four years ago, I started discussing Efficiency Per Minute (EPM), which is essentially the NBA’s efficiency statistic divided by the number of minutes that a guy plays. Please note that I have no idea if I invented this statistic, but I probably didn’t. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because I don’t see anyone else using it at the moment.

I’ve always liked efficiency because it adds up all the quantitative positives that a player can post (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) while penalizing the player for missing a lot of shots or a lot of free throws, or turning the ball over. EPM takes this a step further because it allows us to compare a player getting 25 minutes per game with one that plays 35 minutes a night. John Hollinger’s PER is nice in that I don’t have to sit down and crunch the numbers, but I always found it odd that, every season, he arbitrarily sets the average at 15.00.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about EPM. First, there are always an inordinate number of centers and power forwards at the top of the EPM rankings because they’re generally closer to the basket when they shoot (resulting in more makes and fewer misses) and their secondary function (rebounds) are easier to get than a guard’s secondary function (assists). So while it is a good tool to compare players that play the same position, it’s not great for comparing a center to a point guard…but I doubt that a tool like that even exists.

Secondly, it’s not pace-adjusted. PER is. The amount of work that would go into applying a pace to each player’s numbers is mind-boggling, especially those players that change teams within a year, and I don’t think that the powers-that-be at The Scores Report want me to put that kind of time in on this topic. So keep that in mind when looking at these numbers. Lastly, I don’t like how the number looks — it’s always 0.XYZ, but it’s not a percentage like batting average, which is easily understood.

That said, I still like EPM. As futile as it is to create one number that encompasses a player’s entire game, EPM does as well as any. Defensively, it only rewards steals and blocks, so there is a large part of a player’s skill set that isn’t accounted for, but that’s true of any widely-used statistic in the NBA.

Over the next few days, I’ll run down the top 10 players at each position. I set the cutoff at 675 minutes played, figuring a player would have to play 15 minutes per contest for 45 games to make the list. Let’s start with the point guards.

Point Guards:
Chris Paul 0.723
Steve Nash 0.667
Deron Williams 0.599
Chauncey Billups 0.587
Rajon Rondo 0.572
Jason Kidd 0.542
Tyreke Evans 0.519
Gilbert Arenas 0.514
Baron Davis 0.512
Luke Ridnour 0.511

Next 5: Westbrook, Calderon, Robinson, Lowry, Rose

It’s hard to argue with the way that the first five are ranked, and the top 5 are exactly the same as how Hollinger’s PER ranks them…In a real-world ranking, Derrick Rose would certainly be higher, but if you look at his numbers, he’s only averaging 5.8 assists and 0.8 steals, and both averages are on the lower end of the elite PGs. The fact that the Bulls are the 6th-worst shooting team probably doesn’t help his assists, either…Clearly, Ridnour is high, but he is having a great year and is benefiting from playing limited minutes (22.0) largely against opponents’ bench players. But he’s shooting 47% from the field, 39% from 3PT and 92% from the charity stripe, so he has been a very efficient shooter. He and Kyle Lowry would be guys to target as placeholders for teams looking for an upgrade at the point…There is reason for Knicks fans to be optimistic about Sergio Rodriguez (0.464, PG21). He only played about 14 minutes a game this season, but he has been productive…Who are the least effective point guards playing more than 25 minutes a game? 1. Rafer Alston, 2. Derek Fisher, 3. Chris Duhon, 4. Steve Blake and 5. Kirk Hinrich.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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