NBA Power Rankings: 25 Most Efficient NBA Players Under 25 in 2011

Justin BoninAnalyst IJune 7, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: 25 Most Efficient NBA Players Under 25 in 2011

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    In 1996, Keith Thompson developed the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) statistic. According to Thompson, PER is a way of, "efficiently measuring performance by bringing performance down to a lowest common denominator."

    In other words, rather then looking at per game statistics for a player, you look at their per minute stats and consequently their per complete game averages (per 48 minutes).

    The purpose of PER is to counteract the fact that players who play more will accumulate more stats. In order to do so, you evaluate each player’s performance based on the same amount of playing time to keep everyone on an even playing field. Though the results may be controversial, they are nonetheless a very interesting and effective way of gaining an accurate representation of just how valuable a player is to his team.

    I will now list the top 25 NBA players under the age of 25 in terms of their PER this past season in an attempt to determine exactly which of these young players actually did the most to help their team win in 2010-2011. 

    This means these 25 players under 25 should THEORETICALLY be the top 25 players to build an NBA team around, right?

    Well, we’ll just have to see what the often controversial PER stats tell us…  

    I encourage you to leave you counter-arguments and comments below,



    All information on the PER statistic taken from "Deciding Basketball’s Greatest: The PER Sports Concept."

Notable Players Just Outside the Top 25

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    26. DeJuan Blair, 22; PER: 17.20

    27. Rajon Rondo, 25; PER: 17.11

    28. Kyle Lowry, 25; PER: 16.51

    29. James Harden, 21; PER: 16.42

    30. Andrea Bargnani, 25; PER: 16.50

    31. John Wall, 20; PER: 15.85

    32. Danilo Gallinari, 22; PER: 15.71

    33. Brandon Jennings, 21; PER: 15.66

    34. DeMar DeRozan, 21; PER: 14.52





25. JaVale McGee, 23; PER: 17.42

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    I did not have the chance to see much of JaVale McGee this season, but I am aware there was a fair amount of hype surrounding him.

    At just 23 years old, he certainly has a long career ahead of him, and he is—and should continue to be—an important part of Washington’s young core moving forward. 

    This past season he averaged 17.5 points and 11.6 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 4.2 blocks per 48 minutes and a .550 FG percentage.

24. Amir Johnson, 24; PER: 17.67

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    As a Raptors fan, this did not come as a very big surprise since I have had plenty of opportunities to see just how efficient Amir Johnson was this past season.

    He played only 25.7 minutes per game and played hurt for the majority of them. The Raptors would be smart to give him even more minutes moving forward.

    This past season Amir averaged 14.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 2.3 blocks per 48 minutes and a .568 FG percentage.

    If Amir can maintain this level of efficiency over the next couple of years, he will certainly justify the big contract extension he was given from the Raptors last summer.

    Is it too soon to call him the Jose Bautista of the Toronto Raptors?

23. Serge Ibaka, 21; PER 17.70

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    Serge Ibaka is a player I have liked since day one. 

    Fellow NBA 2K11 gamers will understand this better when I say that every time I played in the Association mode, I made sure to trade for Serge Ibaka as my sixth man.

    His 4.29 blocks per 48 minutes and 0.74 blocks per personal foul certainly helped make him the efficient player he was in 2011. He also averaged 13.9 points and 12.0 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with a .543 FG percentage.

22. Rudy Gay, 24; PER: 17.88

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    After seeing how well the Memphis Grizzlies played following his season-ending injury, many people began questioning how valuable Rudy Gay was to his team.

    Nevertheless, what I can say for sure is that he was the 22nd most efficient player under 25 this past season, which I have to say is far lower than I expected considering all the hype around him going into the 2010-2011 season.

    In 2011, Gay averaged 19.9 points 6.2 rebounds per 40 minutes and a .471 FG percentage.  

21. Ty Lawson, 23; PER: 17.99

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    Ty Lawson just could not catch a break this past season.

    For the first half of the year he was forced to take a backseat to both Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, and once they were shipped out, in came Raymond Felton with whom Lawson had to split playing time. In the end, Lawson averaged only 26.3 minutes per game, despite his above average efficiency rating.

    This past season he averaged 17.7 points, 7.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 1.8 steals per 48 minutes and a .503 FG percentage.

    I hope the Nuggets will find a taker for Felton this offseason so both Felton and Lawson, two NBA starter-caliber point guards, can be given the roles and playing time they deserve.

20. Greg Monroe, 20; PER: 18.07

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    Greg Monroe is going to be a good NBA center; he is already very efficient, as demonstrated by his 13.5 points, 10.8 rebounds per 40 minutes and .551 FG percentage in his rookie season.

    He is tall enough to play center at 6'11", but he would be even better at PF if Detroit can find a decent fill-in at center, perhaps by trading away Charlie Villanueva.

    All in all, the point is Monroe is certainly deserving of his spot on this list, and expect him to improve and climb up a few spots next year.

19. Tyrus Thomas, 24; PER: 18.25

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    I find it a bit surprising to see Tyrus Thomas on this list. 

    He averaged 10-plus points per game this season, but only about five rebounds a game.  That being said, upon a little investigation, it became clear the reason he is 19th on this list is his 1.6 blocks per game this past season; goes to show that defense does in fact pay off.

    Thomas also averaged 19.5 points and 10.54 rebounds per 40 minutes, and as I touched on before, 3.7 blocks per 48 minutes.

18. Rodney Stuckey, 25; PER: 18.46

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    I expected Rodney Stuckey to be higher on this list, which I think would be the case if he was on a different team and had a bigger role.

    He is in fact a very efficient player who should be a regular NBA starter. At 6'5", he has the size advantage over many NBA point guards, yet is tall enough to compete with and effectively guard NBA SG’s. 

    He averaged a solid 19.8 points, 6.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per 40 minutes, plus 1.7 steals per 48 minutes in 2011. He certainly deserves a promotion, and if I were the Chicago Bulls, I would forget about Rip Hamilton and all the other shooting guards they are looking at to shift my focus toward Stuckey.

17. Thaddeus Young, 22; PER: 18.46

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    Standing 6'8" and with the ability to play either forward position, I think Thaddeus Young is the best kind of tweener you can have.

    He has developed into an excellent role-player for the Sixers, but his efficiency this past season shows he could potentially have some success in a bigger role. 

    Young averaged 19.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 2.0 steals per 48 minutes and a .541 FG percentage this past season.

    Could he put up such efficient numbers as a starter, or is Thaddeus Young better suited to be a role-player? I think 76ers">76ers">76ers">76ers">Philadelphia should do some experimenting.  

16. Eric Gordon, 22; PER: 18.56

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    Eric Gordon is a great up-and-coming shooting guard in the NBA, and according to the PER stats, he is also quite efficient.

    Gordon averaged 23.6 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 assists per 40 minutes last year to go along with 1.6 steals per 48 minutes and .389 percent from three-point land.

    I was shocked to find out he is only 6'3"; that being said, he very efficient, especially considering the majority of NBA shooting guards have the height advantage over him.

15. Monta Ellis, 25; PER: 18.69

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    Am I surprised to see Monta Ellis this low on the list? No, not really.

    Ellis put up some major scoring numbers last season, but he also attempted the most field goals per game in the NBA with 20.1 per game in the 40.3 minutes he played per game. 

    In 2011, Ellis averaged 23.9 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, plus a very solid 2.5 steals per 48 minutes. That is nothing to scoff at, and although many people say Ellis is only good because he plays a lot of minutes and takes a lot of shots, it seems as if his numbers per 40 minutes are right up there near the top. 

    I will not deny that Ellis is one of the better scorers in the NBA, but I think if he could improve his consistency. He would become an efficient scorer, and the rest of his game would improve as a result.

14. Lou Williams, 24; PER: 18.93

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    Lou Williams is the perfect player to have right after Monta Ellis because you can compare him to one of the better scorers in the NBA to see just how good he could be if he was a starter based on his stats per 40 minutes.

    Last season Williams averaged 23.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds per 40 minutes, and 1.3 steals per 48 minutes. 

    When you look at their stats per 40 minutes, Williams and Ellis are pretty much at par, something I’ve wanted people to realize for quite some time now.

13. Ramon Sessions, 25; PER: 19.01

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    Aside from their two top-five 2011 NBA Draft picks, Ramon Sessions is another good thing the Cleveland Cavaliers can take from this past season.

    Sessions averaged 20.2 points, 7.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 1.4 steals per 48 minutes and a .466 FG percentage.

    Do the Cavs really need to draft Kyrie Irving, or would they be better off filling their holes at other positions by taking Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter?

    There is so much hype surrounding Irving, but what will be interesting is seeing exactly who will be the more efficient player, Sessions or Irving. Only time will tell. 

12. Josh Smith, 25; PER: 19.31

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    I am in no way surprised to see Josh Smith this high on the list, and I think he should actually be higher.  Also, if he was playing SF instead of PF, I think he would definitely be higher on this list.

    Smith averaged 19.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per 40 minutes to go along with 2.2 blocks and 1.8 steals per 48 minutes. He is a very efficient player who should be playing SF with his above average scoring, rebounding, defense (both perimeter and post), passing, ball-handling, height and athleticism at that position.

    Smith is without a doubt the type of player I would want to build an NBA team around and is—in my opinion—one of the most underrated players in the league today, especially when you consider he is only 25 years old and has already played six  full seasons as an NBA starter. He has the perfect blend of youth and experience, both regular season and playoffs.

11. Brook Lopez, 23; PER: 19.33

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    Brook Lopez is an interesting big man and gets fair deal of criticism for it.

    He is not a very good rebounder, but he can do other things well.

    Last season he averaged 23.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per 40 minutes to go along with 2.0 blocks per 48 minutes and a .492 FG percentage. 

    Interestingly enough you may notice Lopez actually averaged more assists than rebounds—albeit that is not necessarily a good thing for a seven-footer, but he is a good passer and playmaker.

10. Stephen Curry, 23; PER: 19.46

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    We are now into the top 10 and well on our way to the "elite" young prospects in the NBA.

    Stephen Curry is a very talented and efficient guard. He averaged 22.1 points, 6.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds per 40 minutes this season to go along with 2.1 steals per 48 minutes, a .480 FG percentage and a .442 three-point percentage, while also averaging 2.9 made three-point field goals per 48 minutes. 

    In the case of Stephen Curry, his three-point shooting and steals were crucial to elevating his PER, but in the end, you just have to accept that he is a very well-rounded and efficient NBA guard.

9. Al Horford, 25; PER: 20.79

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    Before I even begin the discussion on Al Horford, I would just like to point out that his stats could be even better is he was a PF, his natural position.

    Nevertheless, Horford still put up some very efficient numbers in 2011. He averaged 17.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per 40 minutes to go along with 1.4 blocks per 48 minutes and a .557 FG percentage.

    The Atlanta Hawks are lucky to have two of the 25 most efficient players under 25 in Josh Smith and Horford. If they ever want to get to the NBA Finals, they must continue to build around these two players.

8. Andrew Bynum, 23; PER: 21.14

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    Andrew Bynum averaged 16.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 3.4 blocks per 48 minutes and .574 FG percentage last season.

    Despite only being 23 years old, Bynum has already had a couple injury problems in his career. That being said, if he can stay healthy and continue his efficient play, especially like he did in the playoffs, Jim Buss and the Lakers will be very happy.

7. LaMarcus Aldridge, 25; PER: 21.57

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    Last season LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 22.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per 40 minutes, and shot .500 percent from the field.

    If the Blazers decide to hang on to Greg Oden—and if he can stay healthy and play the way we saw him play earlier in his career—Portland will have one of the best and most efficient frontcourts in the NBA.

    Move aside Gasol and Bynum.

6. Blake Griffin, 22; PER: 21.93

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    After missing his first season due to injury, Blake Griffin came back with a vengeance this year and certainly did not disappoint.

    This past season he won the Rookie of the Year award and averaged 23.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per 40 minutes while shooting .506 percent from the field.

    "Blake Superior" was extremely efficient this year, and the scary thing is, he will only improve. Once he becomes a better defender, his PER will raise quite a bit, and I expect him to break the top five on this list next year.

5. Derrick Rose, 22; PER: 23.62

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    The 2011 NBA MVP was in fact only the fifth most efficient player under 25 in the NBA last season.

    Derrick Rose averaged 26.8 points, 8.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 1.3 steals per 48 minutes and .445 FG percentage.

    We saw some much-improved jump shooting from Rose this past season, and I think this offseason he will work just as hard. As a result, expect this year’s MVP to be a lot higher on this list next year as he becomes an even more complete, efficient player. 

4. Russell Westbrook, 22; PER: 23.63

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    Throughout this year’s playoffs, many fans and sportswriters criticized Russell Westbrook’s decision-making at times in regards to taking charge of games rather than getting Kevin Durant more involved.

    This was not the case in 2011 though, as Westbrook did an excellent job as both a playmaker and scorer. He averaged 25.2 points, 9.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with 2.6 steals per 48 minutes and a .442 FG percentage.

    At just 22 years young, Westbrook is already an insanely efficient player, and he should improve even more as he matures.

    The future is now in Oklahoma City, and I can see them in the NBA Finals as soon as next season.

3. Kevin Durant, 22; PER: 23.70

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    Surprised? I was!

    Constructing this list, I was confident Kevin Durant was the most efficient NBA player under 25 in 2011.  Not to mention I also thought he would be the second most efficient player in the entire NBA behind only LeBron James, who had a league-leading four triple doubles in 2011.

    But according to the PER stats I was wrong. Durant was in fact the third-best player under 25 to build a team around in 2011; that being said, he should only improve as time goes on.

    In 2011, Durant averaged 28.5, 7.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per 40 minutes to go along with 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per 48 minutes. He also had a .462 FG percentage, .350 three-point percentage and 2.3 made three-point field goals per 48 minutes.

2. Kevin Love, 22; PER: 24.39

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    Kevin Love had an incredibly efficient season due in large part to his league-leading 20.4 rebounds per 48 minutes. He also had 64 double-doubles last season, second only to Dwight Howard.

    I can confidently say the majority of NBA fans, coaches and analysts would not consider Love as the second best player under 25 to build a team around. That being said though, the stats do not lie, and according to the PER’s, Love was in fact that player in 2011.

    Last season he averaged 22.6 points and 17.0 rebounds per 40 minutes to go along with a .470 FG percentage and a .417 three-point percentage.

    Was last season a fluke, or can/will Love continue to put up these freakishly efficient numbers for years to come? Only time will tell.

1. Dwight Howard, 25; PER: 26.13

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    In this case I cannot help but argue with the PER stats.

    Dwight Howard almost single-handedly got his Orlando Magic into the playoffs and in my opinion should have been the MVP this year.

    He averaged 24.3 points and 15.0 rebounds to go along with 3.0 blocks per 48 minutes and a .593 FG percentage. These numbers, along with the fact that he was the only reason why the Orlando Magic were considered to be contenders this season, are some legitimate arguments that Dwight Howard is both one of the most efficient players in the NBA and the best player 25 years or under to build an NBA team around.