The Basketball Plus Minus Rating

by Daniel Ferrero, Argentine - December 24, 2004 ~ Updated by BGA Roberto Azar: February 17, 2017

Spanish ~ Español - La Evaluación Plus Minus en Baloncesto

In areas such as Basketball, the coach has many different statistics to deal with. Is the best player the one with the most points?
The most rebounds? The most steals? In areas where there are many different types of data, it is important to convert all of the data to the same unit. Here I describe these analysis rules from the eBA Basketball Statistics Analysis System, when each player is given a rating, to compare him to other players and to find team ratings. What follows is one of those rules step-by-step breakdown.

This statistical method measure how point differentials change when a particular player is in game versus when he is not, evaluating how the team is performing in both situations.

+ / - Rating
On Court Points - Off Court Points

On Court Points

Team's Net Points
( Points scored by team - Points scored by opponent )

with the particular player on the floor.

Off Court Points

Team's Net Points
( Points scored by team - Points scored by opponent )

with the particular player off the floor.

Analyzing Plus / Minus Data

* Logic of this method is straightforward: teams should perform better when their good players are playing versus when they are not.

* The pure "unadjusted" plus / minus rating do not measure the value of the player per se; they measure the value of the player relative to the players that substitute in for him.

* There are differences in the quality of players that players play with and against.

* A weak starter on a team with exceptionally good starters (relative to bench players) will generally get a very good unadjusted plus / minus rating - regardless of his actual contribution to the team.

* Star players play a lot of minutes per game and will generally have a plus / minus rating that mirror the team's number as a whole.

* When the team gets beaten by a solid margin, the team as a whole will probably have very few players with a positive rating.

* A situation when a player have a NEGATIVE rating ON court and a POSITIVE while on bench, MUST NOT be lightly analyzed as this player should have been played MORE minutes.

* Players on poor teams have a hard time getting good plus numbers, due to the fact that their teams are usually behind.

* We must use the plus / minus statistical formula as just another of many tools available at eBA System that will help the coach to evaluate the team, not as a exclusive one.

* A good aspect of tracking plus/minus rating is that the players will be aware that the coach is grading the team's performance for every second a particular player is on the floor.

* Also gives role players or player's who aren't necessarily big scorers or into compiling big personal statistics, another way to evaluate and feel good about what he is doing on the court.


Times a player was called on court, including game and quarters starting.


Net Plus Minus Rating Adjusted to Games Played=

(+ / - Rate) / Games Played


Net Plus Minus Rating Adjusted to Minutes Played=

( (+ / - Rate) / Minutes Played ) * 40

G +

Games the particular player was in POSITIVE Plus / Minus Rating

G -

Games the particular player was in NEGATIVE Plus / Minus Rating

One of the issues here is that the league has an award to recognize the best defensive player in the league but no such award for the best offensive player in the league. This may be one of the reasons that the MVP award has so often resembled a race to be the league's most productive offensive player.


* This rating isn't an absolute measure of player's ability, but it does represent how successful a player is with a given quintet.

* In general the players with the best Plus / Minus Rating on the team are the difference makers. When these top players are on the floor the team performs at a much higher level.

(Note of the Site's Editor: This Article is a synthetic comment of a chapter and entirely part of the eBA System - The Basketball Statistics Analysis, research of the Prof. Roberto Azar.)

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