Real Plus Minus.. Is it the Best Way To Determine Value?

Real plus minus is a way of determining a players value on the court. Sort of like a stock, this number can fluctuate from year to year. This statistic has been adopted by many GM’s in the NBA. It can help gauge a players value. However, after examining these statistics, often more questions are asked than answered.

James Harden leads the league in w/rpm( number of wins each player contributes to his win total) with 13.23 and has a very good RPM at 6.83 rpm( I can just picture Daryl Morey salivating) but after closer examination his drpm( defensive rpm) is -.45. Not a terrible number, especially for a player that has in the past been deemed a defensive liability but let’s just say there is a significant drop off between his offensive production and defensive production.

Anthony Davis has an RPM of 4.77 with a drpm of 3.07 and an orpm of 1.7. More balanced then say Hardens, but this is hard to antiquate because while James Harden is sitting on top with 31 points per game. Anthony Davis is only 3 points behind him. And Davis is grabbing 2.6 offensive rebounds per game, compared to .5 from Harden. Unfortunately in my eyes, the reason why Harden is crushing RPM stats is probably because of his ability to get fouled anytime he drives down the lane. As well as his range from 3. It also helps that his backcourt partner, CP3 has an RPM of 7.33 which is the highest in the NBA. So we can say that may have had an impact on his statistics, even though it is not supposed to.

In 2016 Chris Paul was second in RPM with 7.92 only trailing Lebron’s monster 8.42 RPM. But where’s James Harden? He is all the way down at 13th. Not a huge fall. But it does paint the picture that RPM is a relevant stat for good teams. Not many would argue that Devin Booker is not a great player. However, his advanced stats would point to him being a -.74 rpm which is pretty low for a player of his caliber. Not to mention he is on a shitty team but also a team that is tanking, does this skew his stats? I honestly don’t know. But I know if you rub elbows with players with good rpm. Chances are your RPM will go up.

Rookie RPM

Ben Simmons and Donavan Mitchell are both jockeying for the ROY award. Ben Simmons has an RPM of 2.65. Mitchell has an RPM of 1.42. Does this mean Mitchell will not win? It’s had to say. What I do know is historically the Western Conference has better teams. Simmons also has Joel Embiid who has an RPM of 4.95. That number trumps any numbers Rudy Gobert (3.57) and Joe Ingles (2.43) put up. Simmons is a great player, there is no debating that. But when Gobert went out Mitchell put the team on his back and is averaging 19.7 pts. Great rookie numbers. Simmons also has the likes of JJ Reddick, Robert Covington, Marco Bellineli, Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric to kick out to for 3s where as Mitchell only has Joe Ingles. So that being said, I’m not whole heartedly buying these stats.

What Does this Mean?

Devin Booker is not a “negative” player, nor does his 2.86 W/RPM reflect his value. Same can be said of Anthony Davis, who is playing with a sub par team without Boogie Cousins (4.83 rpm). Has shown that as the focal point he can not only dominate the stat line but also win. Something he was not able to do with Cousins swallowing up touches. These are nice stats to gauge some levels of efficiency but they don’t tell anywhere near the whole story. Rely on stats for quick takes but the eye test to see the whole picture.