What is PER in Basketball?

What is PER in Basketball

In the game of basketball, PER is an acronym that stands for “Player Efficiency Rating.” It is a rating of the player’s per-minute productivity, which may initially sound confusing. PER considers the bad and good plays a player performs during a match. These plays can include free throws, rebounds, turnovers, and fouls.


So, what exactly counts as a good PER for a basketball player? How exactly do you calculate a PER, and what will subtract from that player’s PER? And who has the highest PER in all of NBA history?


Let’s take a look at a complete breakdown of the player efficiency rating in basketball.


What is a Good PER in Basketball?

What is a Good PER in Basketball

A good NBA PER rating is 15 for a player. The 15 number is the average PER score and is one that most basketball players can achieve. However, to be a “great” basketball player, a PER in the high 20s or the 30s is the goal. The higher the Player Efficiency Rating, the more productive that player is, and the more actions that player takes during a game.


Judging a player’s efficiency based on individual or standalone stats such as steals or assists is possible. However, keeping track of numerous individual stats in a game of basketball is time-consuming. If someone is interested in knowing who is the most productive overall, PER is the perfect stat. PER is a more comprehensive measure of a player that combines several stats into one easy-to-read number.


How Do You Calculate PER in Basketball?

How Do You Calculate PER in Basketball

The actual calculation to find the PER can be very confusing. This is because it takes the stats and percentages from many different areas and boils them down to an easy-to-read number. If you are good at math and love calculations, you might have the time of your life calculating your favorite player’s PER.


This formula takes 12 different stats into account; field goals, rebounds, and fouls are just a few that are considered. Each of these individual stats is weighed differently within this formula, meaning that some stats will be worth more than others. For instance, field goals are worth the most, while turnovers are the least. The weight of these stats was determined by John Hollinger, based on his beliefs about the essential stats in basketball.


Check out Basketball-Reference for a complete breakdown of how to calculate this formula.


What Subtracts from a Player’s PER in Basketball?

What Subtracts from a Player’s PER in Basketball

When calculating a player’s PER, some stats are added together in the formula, and others are subtracted. This means that, when calculating the PER, there are stats that are considered “good stats,” and there are stats that are considered “bad stats.”


The good stats include field goals made (FGM), steals (ST), 3-pointers made (3PTM), blocks (BLK), offensive rebounds (OREB), assists (AST), free throws made (FTM), and defensive rebounds (DREB). All of these individual stats will help add to the player’s PER.


Likewise, some stats are considered bad and will subtract from a player’s overall PER. These bad stats include personal fouls (PF), missed free throws, field goals, and turnovers (TO). It is worth noting that stats such as free throws attempted (FTA) and field goals attempted (FGA) are not considered when calculating the PER.


What Does “Per 36 Minutes” Mean in Basketball?

What Does “Per 36 Minutes” Mean in Basketball

Per 36-minutes should not be confused with PER in basketball. Per 36-minutes is a separate stat used as a per-minute rating for a basketball player. Basically, per 36-minutes is a stat that tells a player’s total within a player’s playing time.


It is important to remember that a per-minute rating can be used in any stat category that you are interested in. For instance, a player’s rebounds, assists, and total points can all determine a per-minute rating.

To calculate a per 36-minute point rating, determine how many points the player scored in the game. Multiply that number by 36, and then divide that answer by how many minutes that player spent in the game. Your final answer will give you that player’s per 36-minute point rating.


Who Has the Highest PER in NBA History?

Who Has the Highest PER in NBA History

As mentioned above, the NBA league average for PER is 15; however, many NBA players seem to soar above that number. For instance, the NBA player who is the career PER leader is Michael Jordan, whose career PER is 27.91. In second place is LeBron James at 27.35 and Nikola Jokic at 27.10 is in third.


Nikola Jovic also holds the record for the highest PER in a single season, at 32.8 PER in the 2021-22 NBA season. Two other players finished the 2021-22 NBA season with a PER of over 30: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.


Are There Any Cons of PER in Basketball?

Are There Any Cons of PER in Basketball

Though PER is one of the most comprehensive stats for basketball analytics, it is essential to remember that it is not flawless. Some downsides are glaringly obvious. One such downside is that, much like any mathematical formula, there is not much room left for more human considerations such as clutch scoring, leadership, and the team’s pace.


Some argue PER places too much importance on scoring. Scoring carries more weight, while defensive measures do not carry as much weight in the calculation. This means that defensive players will have a lower PER than offensive players, disregarding that defensive players are sometimes just as important as offensive players.


Conclusion: What Does PER Mean in Basketball?

In conclusion, basketball PER helps quantify a player’s efficiency and performance overall. The calculation considers several individual stats, resulting in an all-encompassing value on a player’s production level.


The average player’s PER is 15, though the stat can range as high as 35 and over. A strong MVP candidate will have a PER of at least 27.5, while a definite all-star player will have a PER of at least 22.5. The calculation for PER is quite confusing since it takes so many individual stats into account. It is also important to remember that each stat will carry a different weight, depending on how important John Hollinger felt they were.


Though the PER is one of the most comprehensive basketball stats available, it is not a perfect stat. Human influences such as leadership are not part of this formula, for example. Also, a common argument is that a PER will be more favorable towards an offensive player and less favorable for defensive players. That means that defensive player who force bad shots won’t receive credit in their PER formula.


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