The Most and Least Efficient Players in the 2012-13 NBA Season
No one runs three miles to burn 15 calories.
It’s all about efficiency. We want maximum results with minimal effort.
The NBA values players who can achieve the most results with the least waste. Waste means a high number of opportunities that don't produce results.
Statisticians have found a method to help determine a player’s effectiveness: the NBA efficiency stats.
Yup, it's nerd-alert time. Let's dig into the numbers.
First, we need to establish what it all means. The NBA computes the numbers with the following formula:((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - ((Field Goals Att. - Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. - Free Throws Made) + Turnovers)).
For instance, if the "purple player's'' line was 31 points (14-for-25 and 3-for-6 FT), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers, then that formula (46) – (11+6) would create for an overall efficiency rating of +29.
If the "red player's'' line went for 20 points (8-for-10 and 2-for-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 0 turnovers, then the math of 34 – (2+0) would create an overall efficiency rating of +32.
The NBA’s efficiency stat concludes that the “red player” actually had a more efficient game and is more valuable to the team.
The idea is that if a team has a lineup of more efficient players, the better that team will perform. Teams that carry less efficient players will struggle.
Furthermore, when combined with the per 48-minute stat (EFF48M), an additional gauge of a player despite opportunity given by a coach, is put on display.
Let's take a look at a lineup of the league's most efficient players and the league's least efficient players.
Note: All statistics, provided by NBA.com, updated prior to games played on Dec. 6.
Most Efficient Point Guard: Chris Paul
Efficiency Rating: +23.1,+32.74 per 48 minutes.
Chris Paul is second in the league in assists (9.5 per game) and the best in the NBA in steals (2.72 per game), helping create an overall +23.1 efficiency rating.
Adding to Paul's high efficiency number is his 48 percent shooting and current career-high 88.6 percent free-throw shooting.
Paul, the Clippers' captain, usually impresses more visually than through the stat line. But his efficiency score, best of all point guards, is proof that he is the game's best offensive point guard when he's healthy.
Paul wants Chauncey Billups to take his time returning. Of course he does. He's got this.
Backup PG: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics (+22.6, +29.28 per 48 minutes)
Surprise PG: Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers (+11.1, +28.73 per 48 minutes)
Most Efficient Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Efficiency Rating: +25.2, +32.79 per 48 minutes
And some of us thought he was done.
Kobe Bryant just became the youngest player to score 30,000 points. The 34-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star is supposed to be regressing, but at least offensively, he's still playing some of his best basketball.
His efficiency stat of +25.2 reflects his current 49 percent shooting that, while it's still incredibly early in the season, is the highest of his career. His 86.9 free-throw percentage also would be a career high.
He's even shooting a higher three-point percentage (37.2) than he has in 17 seasons.
Meanwhile, he continues to put up his usual rebounds and assists totals, at 5.3 and 4.9, respectively.
Yes, the Lakers haven't been winning. But it's not due to any lack of effort from Bryant. He wants his sixth title, and he may find it. That or an MVP.
It doesn't appear that he'll be quitting any time soon.
Backup SG: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (+19.0, +26.99 per 48 minutes)
Surprise SG: MarShon Brooks, Brooklyn Nets (+4.9, +25.08 per 48 minutes)
Most Efficient Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Efficiency Rating: +30.4, +37.23 per 48 minutes
Sorry, LeBron James, but Kevin Durant finally moves ahead of you—at least in this case.
Though it could not be any closer, Durant's +30.4 efficiency rating is just a hair above James's +29.6 rating. Durant and James are rated No. 1 and 2 in the league in efficiency rating.
While James adds more rebounds (9.1 to 8.5) and assists (6.8 to 4.4) per game, it's Durant's 90.3 (149-for-165) free throw percentage that swallows James' 64.8 (59-for-91) percentage.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star does turn the ball over more, but he's also scoring more points, and he is doing it from the free-throw line and by hitting more three-pointers.
On the flip side, if you even up the minutes with the use of the per 48-minute stat, James barely has a higher rating. Basically, you have to flip a coin to determine who deserves the top small forward spot.
Backup SF: LeBron James, Miami Heat (+29.6, +37.74 per 48 minutes)
Surprise SF: Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves (+19.2, +25.28 per 48 minutes)
Most Efficient Power Forward: Tim Duncan
Efficiency Rating: +25.5, +39.47 per 48 minutes
Robots don't break down.
Tim Duncan continues to be the league's leader of just getting it done. Still the league's most efficient power forward, Duncan posts a +25.5 efficiency rating.
Duncan is averaging a double-double this season at 18.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He's taking care of the ball better than he has his entire career, averaging only 1.9 turnovers per game.
Contributing to his efficiency rating is his 53.3 shooting percentage, best since his rookie season in 1997-98, and he's also averaging 2.4 blocks per game.
The San Antonio Spurs' staple, who averages 31 minutes per game, has the highest per 48-minute efficiency rating in the entire league at +39.47.
Backup PF: Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies (+23.1, +30.08 per 48 minutes)
Surprise PF: David Lee, Golden State Warriors (+22.4, +28.66 per 48 minutes)
Most Efficient Center: Anderson Varejao
Efficiency Rating: +26.9, +35.23 per 48 minutes.
The Most Improved Player Award may be ready to print, as long as it's gone through spell check.
Anderson Varejao, the Cleveland Cavaliers' 30-year-old Brazilian center, is having a career year in his ninth season. Varejao is averaging 15 points and 15.4 rebounds per game.
He leads the league in defensive and offensive rebounds and has the most double-doubles (14).
Backup C: Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (+22.8, +32.26 per 48 minutes)
Surprise C: Greg Smith, Houston Rockets (+10.3, +37.2 per 48 minutes)
Least Efficient Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas
Efficiency Rating: +5.9, +15.21 per 48 minutes.
Fans of the Sacramento Kings are becoming accustomed to seeing their young guards regress.
While the franchise has nearly ruined Tyreke Evans as a promising young guard, now it's Isaiah Thomas's turn to be destroyed.
The young guard, who was seventh in NBA Rookie of the Year voting last season with an average of 11.5 points and 4.1 assists, is now one of the league's least efficient point guards.
His efficiency rating of +5.9 is nearly as low as his assists numbers, which are down to just 1.8 per game, a side effect of not having direction in an offense.
Young players need coaching and direction. Either last year was a fluke, or something has gone wrong in Sacramento. I think fans know the answer to that one.
Least efficient runner-up: Derek Fisher, Dallas Mavericks (+5.0, +9.28 per 48 minutes)
Low-minute offender: Jannero Pargo, Washington Wizards (+1.4, +4.71 per 48 minutes before being cut)
Least Efficient Shooting Guard: Bradley Beal
Efficiency Rating: +8.3, +14.7 per 48 minutes.
The rookie wasn't supposed to be the man this early.
But with the injury to John Wall, the Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal has struggled early in his infant career.
The open looks that Wall should create aren't often there. The Florida product was supposed to be a shooter. Instead, Beal is shooting just 34.4 percent, with a 32.3 three-point percentage.
There is still plenty of time, but so far Beal is one of the league's least efficient shooting guards. His efficiency rating of +8.3 is one of the bigger disappointments of players who receive heavy minutes.
Want to know why Washington has the league's worst record? Also check out our point guard runner-up, Jannero Pargo, who in 14.7 minutes per game had one of the worst efficiency ratings of +1.4 before being cut.
Least efficient runner-up: Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets (+5.0, +8.9 per 48 minutes)
Low-minute offender: Ish Smith, Orlando (+1.4, +5.68 per 48 minutes)
Least Efficient Small Forward: Corey Maggette
Efficiency Rating: +4.3, +13.7 per 48 minutes
Corey Maggette is so typical for a bad NBA team.
He's a veteran who is collecting more than $10 million, and he's one of the least efficient players in the league with a +4.3 rating.
For a youthful Detroit team, the veteran, averaging 15.2 minutes per game, is probably playing too much. Maggette is shooting 38.9 percent and scoring 5.8 points per game.
The issue with Maggette and his low rating has to do mostly with the 225-pounder's lack of rebounding (just 1.2 per game).
His expiring contract may be the only positive.
Least efficient runner-up: Alan Anderson, Toronto Raptors, (+4.7, +10.84 per 48 minutes)
Low-minute offender: Jon Leuer, Cleveland Cavaliers (+1.1, +5.32 per 48 minutes)
Least Efficient Power Forwards: Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis
Efficiency Rating: +6.2 , +16.64 per 48 minutes (Haslem), +5.8, +17.53 per 48 minutes (Lewis)
Not that the Miami Heat are truly "in trouble," but the inside play of two of the team's forwards may explain some struggles of late.
The lack of size in Miami is showing through the pair's efficiency numbers and is contributing to Miami's rebounding woes. The team's -1.62 rebounding differential is only 12th worst in the league, but it's one of the worst of all contending teams.
Haslem has an overall efficiency rating of +6.2 , +16.64 per 48 minutes, and Lewis has a +5.8, +17.53 per 48 minutes.
Neither has poor shooting percentages. Lewis is 50.8 percent from the field and 48.5 percent from three-point land. Haslem is 47.2 percent from the floor.
But in a combined 33.8 minutes, the pair are totaling just 1.4 offensive rebounds per game. That's not enough for a team that attacks the basket as much as Miami. When players attack the rim, it draws help rotation, and that should leave guys like Haslem and Lewis open to collect offensive boards.
The efficiency numbers depict the lack of rebounding in Miami and point to the team's greatest weakness.
Least efficient runner-up: Anthony Tolliver, Atlanta Hawks (+2.0, +7.18 per 48 minutes)
Low-minute offender: Perry Jones III, Oklahoma City Thunder (+1.0, +6.3 per 48 minutes)
Least Efficient Center: Tyler Zeller
Efficiency Rating: +7.8, +16.74 per 48 minutes.
It's interesting that the most efficient big man in the league is paired with the least efficient big man.
Tyler Zeller has not given the Cleveland Cavaliers much of a lift in the post. It's no wonder Anderson Varejao is collecting all those free rebounds.
Zeller's efficiency rating of +7.8 is the worst of all centers who log 20 or more minutes.
His rating drops due to the lack of an overall game. He doesn't block many shots or average even one assist per game. He is shooting just 43 percent from the floor and only 57.6 percent from the free-throw line.
As the numbers prove, rookies aren't the most efficient players.
And sometimes neither are the veterans:
Least efficient runner-up: Eddy Curry, released by Dallas Mavericks (+1.5, +5.82 per 48 minutes)
Low-minute offender: Marcus Camby, New York Knicks (+1.8, +11.59 per 48 minutes)
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