Originally posted on The I in Team  |  Last updated 1/12/12

I swear it wasn’t my intention to write two posts about Tom Thibodeau in one week, but here we are. I already talked about the value of Tom Thibodeau in terms of his playcalling and sheer balls. It turns out I may have undersold him. Care of Ricky O’Donnell over at SBNation, it turns out that Tom Thibodeau crafted his own player efficiency staff while still an assistant with the Celtics.

Efficiency is one of the bylaws of recent statistical analysis concerning basketball. While sabermetrics have taken a slight hold over baseball analysis, I sense more resistance when it comes to advanced stats in basketball. Regardless of whether or not you buy into advanced stats (e.g. PER, Win Shares, Ortg, Drtg, etc), you can accept the fact that one of the founding principles of these stats is that efficiency is key. The more you do with less, the better, generally speaking.

Tom Thibodeau tried to encapsulate that in a formula which I’ve tried to recreate below:

ThibPER = (2*FGM-(FGA-FGM)+FTM-.5FTA+3*3PtM-1.5*(3PtA-3PtM)+Reb+Ast-PF+Stls+Blks-TOs)/Minutes

Beautiful, isn’t it? I did a little substitution to cover where the formula called for misses, e.g. instead of missed field goals, I subbed in the equivalent (FGA-FGM).

Thankfully the dude (a guy on some forum) that stumbled upon Thibs creation also figured out who the leaders in ThibPER were last season. They were:

1. Kevin Love 74.76
2. Dwight Howard 72.39
3. LeBron James 67.86
4. Tim Duncan 64.77
5. Pau Gasol 63.12
6. Blake Griffin 63.08
7. Dirk Nowitzki 61.74
8. Zach Randolph 61.25
9. Kevin Garnett 60.36
10. Andrew Bynum 59.50

Compare that list to John Hollinger’s useful though flawed PER:

1. LeBron James 27.3
2. Dwight Howard 26.0
3. Dwyane Wade 25.6
4. Kevin Love 24.3
5. Kobe Bryant 23.9
6. Chris Paul 23.7
7. Kevin Durant 23.6
7. Russell Westbrook 23.6
9. Derrick Rose 23.5
10. Dirk Nowitzki 23.4

Clearly there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two lists. The two things that stand out to me are the fact that these lists obviously don’t account for defense and that Thibs list is frontcourt heavy. There is only 1 SF on Thibs’ list; the rest are power forwards and centers. I wonder if this result is something that aligns with Thibs’ belief about the game. Maybe he believes that big men are truly more valuable than guards. If that isn’t the case, then he needs to try weighting things differently in his formula. Either way, I find it interesting that Thibodeau devoted the time and effort to try and create such a formula. We all know he obsesses over basketball, but I thought it was confined merely to watching film and game planning. Regardless of the validity of his formula, I think it bodes well that he is such a forward thinker.

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