PER (Player Efficiency Rating) is one of the important metrics used by experts to measure a player's influence in a basketball game. Through the assessment of behaviors, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, and negative results, such as missed shots, turnovers, and personal fouls, the PER will be calculated based on appropriate formulas and algorithms to create a general picture of the performance of all players. 

So, what does PER mean to basketball bettors? The answer is that it is the key to increasing your chances of winning special bets. In this article, we'll take a look at PER, explain what it is, and look at how useful it can be in predicting basketball handicap betting

What is PER in Basketball?

PER, which stands for Player Efficiency Rating, is a special statistical metric created by former Memphis Grizzlies Basketball Executive Vice President and current author and basketball analyst John Hollinger. PER's mission is to make it possible for spectators and experts to gauge a player's influence on the game, whichever side they are on, by measuring their performance per minute.

what is per in basketball
Source: Freepik

PER is seen as an improved algorithm to become a more comprehensive performance measure than traditional approaches. Instead of judging a player by independent stats, this stat tells a story about a player and compares their worth to others in the league. Thanks to that, we can see how well any player has played on their team. 

The reason many pundits appreciate the effectiveness of PER is because it outperforms the often misleading standard stats in the NBA.

For example, a player may not score too many points in a game, but he contributes strong support for the team's defense, which statistics cannot show. So PER appears to aggregate a player's positives and remove the generated negatives to give a minute-per-minute rating of all players' performance in an NBA game.

How is PER Calculated?

We greatly appreciate Hollinger's efforts to enhance the expertise of NBA player ratings. However, the PER calculations are much more complicated for the casual basketball fan, or at least those who don't want the dramatic basketball games to become a math equation on the board. Therefore, in the framework of the article, we will only introduce the behaviors of players that play an important role in the algorithm that PER applies.

How is Player Efficiency Rating Calculated?
Source: Freepik

The positive acts, or achievements, made by players involved in PER calculations include: 

  • Field goals
  • 3-pointers
  • Free throws
  • Assists
  • Rebounds
  • Blocks
  • Steals

The algorithm also subtracts negative statistics made by players. They inclusde:

  • Missed shots
  • Turnovers
  • Personal fouls

If you want to know more about the exact formula used, you can check out Hollinger's Professional Basketball Forecasting series. It will provide an in-depth idea of ​​the algorithm and related metrics used to calculate PER. However, if you want a quick picture of it, here's the PER formula in its simplest form:

uPER = (1 / MP) *

     [ 3P

     + (2/3) * AST

     + (2 - factor * (team_AST) /team_FG)) * FG

     + (FT *0.5 * (1 + (1 - (team_AST / team_FG)) + (2/3) * (team_AST / team_FG)))

     - VOP * TOV

     - VOP * DRB% * (FGA - FG)

     - VOP * 0.44 * (0.44 + (0.56 * DRB%)) * (FTA - FT)

     + VOP * (1 - DRB%) * (TRB - ORB)

     + VOP * DRB% * ORB

     + VOP * STL

     + VOP * DRB% * BLK

     - PF * ((lg_FT / lg_PF) - 0.44 * (lg_FTA / lg_PF) * VOP) ]

Why is PER Important in Handicapping?

So, you might think that PER is merely an indicator used in statistics, and it doesn't help with basketball betting. However, the reality is that knowing this indicator well can add essential data to your betting decisions. 

According to many experts, basketball is a team sport, and PER is an individual metric, which is not an optimal solution to estimate the teamwork process. But the team is built of individuals, and every player contributes to the team's performance. So, PER plays a vital role in determining the ability of each player; although it may not be completely accurate, it is still valuable for its context to help you be more discerning when betting on handicaps of the NBA.

More specifically, PER gives the audience a complete picture of each player through the positive and negative stats they have generated during the match. By assessing the PERs of the teams' key players, you will fill in your logical reasoning to bet on a specific team in your bet ticket.

Why Shouldn't Players Trust Completely on PER?

The PER has been considered the most comprehensive NBA player index since it was invented. However, the truth is that it's not perfect. This index includes a certain bias in assessing a player's true influence on the field, a problem that all sports mathematical models have to deal with. Here are some mistakes to keep in mind to avoid when you use PER.

Doesn't reflect the importance of each score

Like every mathematical model used in professional sports analysis, PER is just a number. Thus, it treats every score scored by a player equally, regardless of the importance of those scores at specific points in the game. As a result, the PER may not accurately depict the amount of effort that players put into influencing the game.

For example, a block in the first quarter wouldn't be comparable in importance to that key block in the third quarter that sparked the momentum change and the incredible comeback of the team? And a player who scored 30 points is comparable to a player who scored 15 consecutively during a fourth-quarter comeback when the team needed him most?

The fact that even modern mathematical models cannot accurately simulate sporting events is fascinating because of its human nature. Many good players that are always showing up at crucial moments have slipped through the cracks of stats like PER and the like. Therefore, PER should only be used as a reference rather than a determining factor. 

Lacks Support Measurements

PER also demonstrates its limitations in assessing helped points versus unassisted field goals. The corollary of that is that a player who is creating his own chances and scoring is judged similarly to a player who is just scoring on alley-oops. Plus, while three-point specialists are always appreciated, the truth is that someone who can drive, slash, and break down defense to create their own shot will have to put in more effort to score. And again, the PER can't distinguish the differential influence between them.

The introduction of modern statistical methods such as APER (an upgrade of PER) has overcome these shortcomings. APER has the ability to distinguish between helped and unassisted field goals, and also can add charges to the calculation. Thanks to that, many players with the breakthrough style of play have benefited from this.

Lacks Defensive Measurements

Not only in terms of score support, but PER has also received many criticisms for underestimating the defensive experts in the game. That's not necessarily PER's fault, as its original algorithm isn't supported by many stats related to player defense. 

So, overusing PER if you don't watch the games carefully can cause you to underestimate a player's value to the team. The reason is that when defending, the player has to expend a lot of energy, making it difficult for him to participate in the team's immediate scoring situations. That pointed to the limitation of PER, as defense is, basically, more complicated to quantify than a player's offensive ability. 

When Should Players Use PER in a Basketball Match?

Many experts believe that PER is more effective in assessing the impact an injured player has on the team. If a player is sidelined, his PER will not change. So you can tell the difference between the team's PER in the presence and absence of that injured player.

Use PER in a Basketball Match
Source: Freepik

Of course, if the key player can't play, the team will face many challenges. In that case, the team's only hope will be the subs, who don't get to play regularly for the most impressive stats. And this is where PER proves its importance by not missing out on the value of any player, no matter how few minutes they play. 

Theoretically, PER is a calculation per minute, so it doesn't depend on a player's playing time. As long as one player contributes positive results to the team, they will be recognized equally with regular players, even though their playing time is much more limited. Therefore, reviewing PER reports can help you make detailed assessments of each player and a particular team's chances of winning if their highest PER players compete or are absent.


All that said, PER is a stat used in basketball statistics that plays an important role in quickly assessing each player in a game. Although PER has obvious advantages, its disadvantages are very noticeable if you want to take advantage of it to increase your chances of winning. So be a smart spectator and a wise bettor to use PER at the correct times and gain an edge in basketball handicap bets. 

Published: 25 May 2022 13:41