I Like PER (and other thoughts)

Kurt —  September 12, 2007

If you haven’t been following this, there has become a heated debate in the hoops blogging world about the value of PER, John Hollinger’s all-encompassing hoops stat. Carter at Plissken at the Buzzer fired the first salvo, questioning the usefulness of PER, Tom Ziller (of Sactown Royalty and writing for Ballhype) puts up a passionate defense, the smart folks at Free Darko weighted in, and if you look around you’ll be able to find updates on this discussion in the last 24 hours as well.

I like PER as a quick snapshot. Yes, it has limitations, but it provides a concise place to start. (I’d say the same thing about the Wages of Wins “wins produced” number, although I’m less confident in that methodology right now.) We all know there is no way to boil down all of basketball to one number and have it be perfect, but there are advantages to having a quality way to provide a brief snapshot of a player’s performance, and I think PER does that well.

Here’s how I use PER: Let’s say the Lakers are going to play the Hawks, I like to write game previews and I’ve seen roughly 10 minutes of Hawks basketball so far in said season. When I look at the team stats on Knickerblogger or wherever, if I see Zaza Pachulia with an All-Star level PER of 22 I think to myself “that is odd” and use PER as a jumping off point to see what is really going on with his game (did he figure out how to shoot?). Then I try to pass along that slightly more detailed knowledge to you guys (my readers), so you know why Zaza is schooling Kwame.

For that snapshot to get me looking at things, I think PER is a great tool. But nobody is suggesting that it is the Alpha and Omega of stats. It is simply a starting point.


A couple other quick thoughts:

• While it got a lot of attention that Phil Jackson said he and Kobe were on the same page about talent, what I found interesting in that statement was Phil singled out Jim Buss as the guy who promised and did nothing. Not Jerry Buss, not Mitch, but Jim Buss. Phil doesn’t say things like that on accident.

• In a little bit of site news, I think the Internet Explorer problem this site had is fixed (let me know if anyone is still having problems). I’m behind on getting the sidebar links updated, but that will happen in the next week or so. Promise. If people have other suggestions, I’m willing to listen (this site is more about you guys the commenters than me).

• The way my college football team is playing, the NBA season can’t start soon enough.