Updated: February 27, 2010, 12:58 AM ET

NBA Rookie Report

Pluses, Minuses Of Plus/Minus

By John Hollinger

This article appears in the March 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

The NBA's stats revolution is well afoot, and net plus/minus is one of the more recent tools used by the geek set. GMs, scouts and statheads like me use it to evaluate players and five-man units, despite some debate over its actual worth. More on that later.

It's a simple concept: To rate players, subtract the total points scored by the opposing team while a player is on the floor from the total points scored by his team, both per 100 possessions. (Call this A.) Next, do the same equation (points scored minus points allowed) when the player is sitting (B). Subtract B from A ... and you've got that player's net plus/minus!

Here's an example: Through the All-Star break, the Heat outscored opponents by 5.1 points per 100 possessions with Dwyane Wade on the court. Without him, they were hammered by 11.4. Subtract minus-11.4 from 5.1 (remembering that negative numbers turn positive in equations like this) and his net plus/minus is 16.5, tops in the NBA.

Some insiders like the stat because it accounts for factors -- quality D, effective screens -- that don't show up in box scores. Others, like Nuggets stats guru Dean Oliver, say, "It's noisy, uncertain and kind of a black box -- you have a hard time understanding why it's coming out the way it is."

Click here to read the rest. Insider


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