Basketball Player's TIME PLAYED Analysis

by Prof. Roberto Azar - August 31, 2011

Preliminaries about the Time Played Concept:

Time played (external link) is a parameter not used with frequency in player's valuation although it is included in the box score stats
To relate player's valuation with his minutes played will give us his "efficiency", degree of cooperation into the team and with his teammates, interesting factor for the basketball (external link) coach, the player and the game analyst.

The team's 'efficiency' per minute is obtained by dividing the valuation points, taken from the statistics, by the possible play minutes ( 40 or 48 ) and the mean of player's efficiency per minute by dividing newly by 200 or 240 (total minutes played by 5 players on the court).

The result compared with the player's individual ( valuation / minutes played ) and multiplied by his minutes in play will give us his efficiency or degree of cooperation over or under the team's mean.

AVERAGES MP Points p/Min Mean
Player A1 38 26.1  0.65  0.65
Team A 240 92.2 1.92 0.38
AVERAGES MP Steals p/Min Mean
Player A2  38  3.7 0.09 0.09
Team 240 18.3 0.38 0.07

About the Fundamentals:

Per minute stats (external link) are a good manner to compare players within a team, seeing how a player off the bench might fare compared to the player in front of him in the rotation, but we must be careful about players who scarcely play - Jackie
Butler may have averaged 96 points per 48 in the 5 minutes he played for the Knicks last year, but very doubtful he could have achieved it. Also, we must be careful comparing players from one team to another.

For example, in a certain season Steve Nash average 16.1 assists per 48 while Tony Parker averaged just 8.6 - a large part of the reason for thatis the pace and style Phoenix plays gives Nash more opportunities than Parker.

Per-48 Stats is not meant to be a statistical projection of what a player would average if he played 48 minutes per game. Keep in mind that it is simply an expression of per-minute

They are expressed as per-48 so that the resulting averages are easy to deal with: "23 points per 48 minutes" is easier to read and understand than " 0,479 points per minute".

When comparing players using per-48 stats, remember that the larger the difference in minutes played, the less reliable the comparison will be. Although eBA Basketball Statistics Analysis System (external link) uses this method, on the later
same idea: the fewer minutes a player has played, the less likely his per-48 stats are to
reflect what he'd do in extended time.

For some reports, the eBA System uses the time terms of basically 48 or 40 , and 36 and 30 minutes average in this formula to give a more real expectation of what the person would
add as a starter - see below.

About the Formula:

Finding that statistics accounted on a per-minute basis (external link) tend to be fairly consistent even when a player changes her role and begins to play more minutes.

This allows for a level playing field in analogy of low-minute reserves (as long as they've played a fair number of minutes; most cut-offs are 250 or 500 minutes for the season) and starters. Sometimes, you'll hear this referred to as a player's rate; his "scoring rate", for example, would be points per minute.

Traditionally, this rate is multiplied by the 40 or 48 minutes in a game so the numbers
make more sense.

Player per minute efficiency rate= Stat ( f.ex. Assists ) / Min * 40 or 48

The rating for each player is then adjusted to a per-minute basis, so that, for example,
you can compare subs with starters , and also normalized for the team's pace.

About the Numbers:

AVERAGES MP Points FG p/min p/30 m p/40 m Per 48 m
Player A1 38 26.1 6.2/ 9.1 0.68 20.4 27.2 32.9
Player A2 38 22.2 5.2/10.6 0.58 17.4 23.2 28.0
RELATIONS 0 +3.9 + 1/-1.5 +0.10 +4.9
Player A1 led his team with an average of 26.1 points per 38 minutes - meaning a "per 48 minutes" average of 32.9. eBA System does this report per 40 or 48 minutes, or in some reports per 36 minutes and per 30 minutes too. That is because really no player plays 40 or 48 minutes, so figuring this out for 30-36-40 minutes gives a more real expectation of what the person would add as a starter.

After this you have Player A2 averages 22.2 points per 38, but that's why you need to look at the other stats as well - it took Player A1 minus 1.5 shot per 38 to get those 4.9 more points per 48. Among others, this cases will be discussed and analyzed in our next clinic.


In this per minute statistics area the more important categories to study are the points, offensive rebounds, and steals, all per 40 or 48 minutes.

Assists are deceived because they are excessively devoted to the factor by how well the player's teammates can shoot and by how much the player touch the ball on offense (external link): many point guards are like baseball's closers: overrated because a stat measures the role are lucky to be assigned to. Steals do a much better job of putting in terms of numbers how good the player's quickness and court vision is.

Defensive rebounds are a dubious stat also, in this meaning of 40/48 minutes stats, because they can often be taken by one of multiple players, leading to a "captain" effect. Offensive boards must always be earned and are therefore a better measure of functional bigness. Blocks are not as good because they depend more on where you are usually stationed defensively, that's means how close to the basket you play.

Looking at points per shot and shooting percentage is very problematic for reasons it was already said - see above, that is to say because the bum center that goes 3 for 6 every game couldn't come anywhere close to keeping that percentage up if he took more shots. If he could he wouldn't be shooting so infrequently.

High scorers with low shooting percentages are unfairly criticized.

As a particular one of several possibilities, they often get baffled with very difficult shots at the end of the shot clock when no one else could find anything. Shooting percentages
are also more dependent on teammates. Better teammates make player percentage artificially
higher, but they will reduce the number of shots you take, so points per 48 minutes is a
more accordant with fact and less teammate dependent measure than shooting percentage.

Why sometimes you propose the per 40 minute statistics analysis instead of per 48 minute stats, meanwhile in another articles or formulas in the eBA Basketball Statistics Analysis Clinics (external link) you use the later: per 48 minutes Statistics ?
Which are the pros of each method ?

The answer throughout some definitions:
1 - Regulation games in the NBA are 48 minutes in length, meanwhile in FIBA and ULEB are 40 minutes in length, so nor choice is arbitrary.
2 - Most statistics sites that present per minute statistics indicate them per 48 minutes.
3 - At 48 minutes games, forty minutes is approximately the maximum we can expect a player to play, meanwhile at 40 minutes games the maximum expected is 36 minutes.
4 - I prefer per-40 statistics a lot more than per-48 because no player is going to play 48 minutes a game and per-40 numbers swing better with the scale for points per game, whereas those extra 8 minutes can really make per-48 numbers look exaggerated.
5 - 40 minute numbers give an idea of what a player could possibly average if he play hot minutes.
6 - At 48 minutes games, the average starter goes 32 minutes per game in the season and 36 in the playoffs, meanwhile at 40 minutes games the averages are 30 and 33 minutes.

7- Those are the reason why the eBA System runs also 36 minutes players stats which really matches to when we want to see how a
player draws a projection over starter-type minutes even better than per-40 or per-48.

From Another Point of View:

For John Hollinger's (external link) Pro Basketball Forecast (Pro Basketball Prospectus) per-minute statistics are more useful for evaluating players than per-game statistics: "It's a pretty simple concept, but one that has largely escaped most NBA front offices: The idea that what a player does on a per-minute basis is far more important than his per-game stats. The latter tend to be influenced more by playing time than by quality of play, yet remain the most common metric of player performance."

This exposition will be completed with a 2nd. Part which will be dedicated to the "PLUS MINUS RATINGS".

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Created by azarober. Last Modification: Monday 29 of August, 2011 07:54:58 EDT by azarober. (Version 4)