How the Clippers Stack Up in “Real Plus-Minus”


Mar 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) celebrates with forward Blake Griffin (32), guard Chris Paul (3), and guard Jamal Crawford (11) after defeating the Dallas Mavericks 109-103 at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the analytic age, stats are constantly being developed so we can get a better grip of how players play. Penned “advanced analytics” (though some aren’t even that advanced), they open a portal to information that has been unavailable in prior years.

PER is one that’s familiar amongst the general fan base as ESPN has promoted it heavily. Box scores around the internet have added +/- and statistical sites such as Basketball-Reference includes an entire section of advanced stats such as true-shooting percentage, offensive/defensive rating, usage percentage etc. Now ESPN is delivering another stat that fans will squabble over in the coming years: Real Plus-Minus. Here’s a description from Steve Ilardi of ESPN:

"The RPM model sifts through more than 230,000 possessions each NBA season to tease apart the “real” plus-minus effects attributable to each player, employing techniques similar to those used by scientific researchers when they need to model the effects of numerous variables at the same time.RPM estimates how many points each player adds or subtracts, on average, to his team’s net scoring margin for each 100 possessions played. The RPM model also yields separate ratings for the player’s impact on both ends of the court: offensive RPM (ORPM) and defensive RPM (DRPM).via The next big thing: Real Plus-Minus| ESPN"

Basically, ESPN is looking to find a stat that can represent how good a player is on both sides of the ball. In regards to offense, it’s just another stat that show how good or bad someone is on that end of the floor. There is the typical field-goal percentage, offensive rating, points per game, points per possession, etc. But for defense, there’s an attempt to find a stat that perfectly displays how well one is on that end. There is defensive rating and defensive win shares, but these number are too greatly affected by those around the subject. An example of that would be Zach Randolph being top-10 in defensive win shares and top-20 in defensive rating. Anyone knows that Randolph isn’t a great defender, but being surrounded by the likes of Tony Allen, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol, three of the best defenders at their given position, boosts his numbers. Real Plus-Minus hopes to correct that error.

Like we did with SportsVU, we dug into ESPN’s latest stat to see where the Clippers play stacked up amongst the NBA and here are the results:

  • Only one player in the NBA rates higher than Chris Paul (7.58): Lebron James at 8.11
  • Three Clippers appear in the top-25: Chris Paul (2), DeAndre Jordan (16), and Blake Griffin (22).
  • Chris Paul leads all point guards in RPM and only Stephen Curry tops him in ORPM (Offensive Real Plus-Minus). Paul also finishes 5th in DRPM (Defensive Real Plus-Minus).
  • A shocker is where Blake Griffin ranks among power forwards in ESPN’s new stat. He’s 10th in overall RPM, 8th in Offensive RPM and 23rd in Defensive RPM. Considering he’s in the middle of a break-out year, you’d expect Griffin to be higher.
  • For the “DeAndre Jordan should be Defensive Player of the Year” group, Jordan ranks 18th in Defensive RPM below the likes of Omer Asik, Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Larry Sanders, and Joakim Noah.
  • Offensively, J.J. Redick is represented well being 8th in Offensive RPM amongst shooting guards. Jamal Crawford is ranked 15th in that category.
  • If you need further proof of Matt Barnes being, far and away, the best small forward on the team, this stat shows that. He ranks 5th among small forwards in overall RPM behind Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and DeMarre Carroll.
  • How the Clippers small forwards rank: Matt Barnes (5), Danny Granger (20), Jared Dudley (32), Hedo Turkoglu (41). Jared Dudley is owed $8.5 million over the next two seasons.

No one stat tells the final story and that’s why we, as fans and analysts, are looking for ways to help showcase a players talents. RPM, like PER, will help give context, but don’t allow it to convince outright of something. We’ll see how well this stats works throughout the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.