April 6: NERD Rankings (Player)

numberFire is a sports analytics platform that uses algorithmic modeling to better understand sports—and they’ve developed the numberFire Efficiency Rating Derivative (NERD) to better evaluate every player in the NBA using offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. The nerdier, the better, according to these guys. A player’s NERD rating represents how many games above or below .500 an average team would be if they added him to its roster (based on an 82-game season). For example, LeBron James posted an 18.3 rating in the 2010-11 season, which means that if he played on a team with four league-average players, you would expect that team to finish 18 games over .500 (50-32). An average player has a NERD rating of 0, and to qualify, a player must play at least five minutes per game, based on the team’s total games. Visit numberFire to check out a detailed explanation of the NERD stat for player efficiency and see the full list of NERD rankings.

numberFire says:

The most efficient rookie so far this year has been the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried (8.5 NERD). Faried is scoring a ridiculous 1.24 points per possession while using 18.4% of the Nuggets’ possessions. That means he is taking (and making) extremely high percentage shots—good enough for a 59.2% field goal percentage. Faried is also shooting over 70% from the line and grabbing 22.9% of all available defensive rebounds. Likely Rookie of the Year winner, Kyrie Irving, is also deserving, registering a 2.5 NERD rating while playing on a poor Cleveland squad.

After missing a month and a half of the season, Andrea Bargnani is starting to return to peak form. Since last week, he is the most improved player efficiency-wise, increasing his NERD rating by 2.4 points. In his last five games, Bargnani is shooting over 50% from the field and averaging 25 ppg and 4 rpg. The Raptors have also won 4 of those 5 games, with the only loss coming against Miami. Overall, Bargnani is having a down year. He is shooting just 30% from beyond the arc and scoring only 1.04 points per possession.

In place of the injured Derrick Rose, CJ Watson has been solid all year. This past week, however, Watson hit rock bottom, dropping 2.8 points in his NERD score. Watson is just 12 for 48 over the Bulls’ last five games and is averaging 7.4 points and 4.2 assists per game. With Rose out, Watson is forced to use more of the Bulls’ possessions (to make up for the 30% that Rose typically uses). As a result, Watson is scoring just 1.01 points per possession with a usage rate of 23.5%. Historically, when Watson has a usage rate of 17% or less, he is actually an extremely efficient scorer. But, as soon as he breaches that threshold, his efficiency drops dramatically. Watson needs to stop shooting so much and distribute the ball to better high-usage players like Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer.

The NERD power rankings are powered by numberFire, a sports analytics platform that uses algorithmic modeling to better understand sports. Follow Nik Bonaddio at @numberfire, and Keith Goldner at @drivebyfootball. Check out numberFire on Facebook.