WNBA: Player Efficiency Ratings for 2010

With the end of the regular season it's time to think about who the statistical leaders were in the WNBA, and one of the best stats to look at is John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating, or PER.  We wrote about PER in 2009 (but for those who don't know how it works, you can click the article link and find out.  So which players this year had the best Player Efficiency Rating?

For those who have a broken click finger, PER is an "all-in-one" metric:  it attempts to quantify everything a player has done for the season in one number with all of the advantages (simplicity) and disadvantages (loss of information) associated with single-number metrics.  A great advantage in using PER is that it is not an additive metric - you can't benefit from your team playing at a faster pace than the average team.  PER doesn't depend on how many minutes you play or how many shots you get to take.  Team pace and other situation-dependent factors are built into PER. 

The calculation of PER is normalized to set the league average player at 15.00.  This allows us to compare different players in different seasons playing different games with different kinds of teams.  Furthermore, one can look at PER and decipher the meaning very quickly:  30.00 is really great, 15.00 is average.  Hollinger provides a scale to use with PER:

A year for the ages: 35.0
Runaway MVP candidate: 30.0
Strong MVP candidate: 27.5
Weak MVP candidate: 25.0
Bona fide All-Star: 22.5
Borderline All-Star: 20.0
Solid 2nd option: 18.0
3rd Banana: 16.5
Pretty good player: 15.0
In the rotation: 13.0
Scrounging for minutes: 11.0
Definitely renting: 9.0
Next stop: Latvia: 5.0

So what can PER tell us about the 2010 season?

The first thing we learn is that there is a statistical tie for MVP.  Lauren Jackson, Sylvia Fowles and Tamika Catchings (*) are in a statistical dead-heat.  If I had to assign an MVP based on PER alone, I'd give the MVP to Catchings because one problem with stats is that they don't adequately capture a player's defensive contributions and Catchings is known to be one of the great defenders.

Tina Charles definitely had a great rookie season.  Not at the 2008 Candace Parker level, but she was within the periphery of MVP consideration.  Charles, according to PER, is the Rookie of the Year in 2010.  You didn't need a metric to figure that out.

One can amuse one's self by evaluating trades with PER:  simply evaluate a player's PER value before the trade, and evaluate it after.  The PER values presented below are for the entire season, but when a player plays on two different teams in a season, we only have the PER values associated with each of the separate teams.  The separate team values are weighted by minutes played to give a cumulative PER, but taking PER values for each of the teams she played for before and after a trade can be a useful exercise. 

Let's look at Tulsa, for example.  Tulsa traded Plenette Pierson for Tiffany Jackson.  Let's look at the PERs associated with the player tenures.

Plenette Pierson had a PER of 17.12 with Tulsa...but one of 28.96 with New York.  Tiffany Jackson's PER was 12.79 with New York...and stayed pretty much the same in Tulsa with 12.81.  It looks like that trade was pretty much a no-brainer for New York.

There should be one value on this list that's quite surprising - that of Marion Jones.  Jones averaged 3.4 points per game for the Shock, and most people have figured "one and done". However, word in Tulsa is that Jones will be hanging around next season.  Her PER value is an astonishing 15.88, making her an average player in PER's reckoning.  Part of that probably comes from her 52.5 percent field goal percentage.  (Any question regarding Marion Jones's PER value should be sent to John Hollinger who can be reached via Twitter.  The results were obtained using WNBA stats but were not calculated by Mr. Hollinger.)


Lauren Jackson SEA 29.32
Sylvia Fowles CHI 29.30
Tamika Catchings IND 28.75
Jessica Adair MIN 26.82
Cappie Pondexter NYL 25.94
Candace Parker LAS 25.72
Tina Charles CON 24.44
Candice Dupree PHO 24.18
Diana Taurasi PHO 23.85
Penny Taylor PHO 23.56
Crystal Langhorne WAS 22.60
Angel McCoughtry ATL 21.54
Michelle Snow SAS 21.52
Sancho Lyttle ATL 20.86
Sandrine Gruda CON 20.85
Monique Currie WAS 20.75
Jessica Davenport IND 20.72
Epiphanny Prince CHI 20.53
DeWanna Bonner PHO 20.46
Erika Desouza ATL 20.35
Plenette Pierson TOTAL 19.86
Katie Douglas IND 19.68
Chamique Holdsclaw SAS 19.45
Sophia Young SAS 19.30
Camille Little SEA 19.29
Kara Braxton TOTAL 19.28
Sue Bird SEA 18.88
Tina Thompson LAS 18.86
Taj McWilliams NYL 18.80
Becky Hammon SAS 18.52
Rebekkah Brunson MIN 18.38
Charde Houston MIN 18.05
Candice Wiggins MIN 18.01
Le'coe Willingham SEA 17.80
Renee Montgomery CON 17.51
Lindsay Whalen MIN 17.43
Leilani Mitchell NYL 17.19
DeLisha Milton-Jones LAS 16.75
Allie Quigley TOTAL 16.31
Amber Holt TUL 16.07
Marion Jones TUL 15.88
Nicky Anosike MIN 15.87
Jia Perkins CHI 15.74
Seimone Augustus MIN 15.65
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton LAS 15.44
Brooke Smith PHO 15.30
Ticha Penicheiro LAS 15.29
Swin Cash SEA 15.28
Ivory Latta TUL 15.14
Tan White CON 15.13
Asjha Jones CON 14.72
Nicole Powell NYL 14.69
Alison Bales ATL 14.68
Chante Black TUL 14.65
Natasha Lacy TUL 14.62
Tammy Sutton-Brown IND 14.59
Iziane Castro Marques ATL 14.59
Marissa Coleman WAS 14.41
Betty Lennox LAS 14.36
Lindsey Harding WAS 14.34
Tanisha Wright SEA 14.19
Jana Vesela SEA 14.05
Shameka Christon CHI 13.88
Mistie Bass CHI 13.66
Essence Carson NYL 13.64
Svetlana Abrosimova SEA 13.61
Janel McCarville NYL 13.57
Noelle Quinn LAS 13.55
Shanna Crossley TUL 13.41
Andrea Riley LAS 13.31
Edwige Lawson-Wade SAS 13.17
Kara Lawson CON 13.10
Dominique Canty CHI 13.08
Erin Thorn CHI 13.06
Scholanda Robinson TUL 13.01
Jayne Appel SAS 12.96
Kristi Toliver LAS 12.94
Temeka Johnson PHO 12.92
Briann January IND 12.81
Tiffany Jackson TOTAL 12.81
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota CON 12.73
Jennifer Lacy TUL 12.71
Armintie Price ATL 12.62
Chasity Melvin WAS 12.42
Ebony Hoffman IND 12.18
Ruth Riley SAS 12.11
Matee Ajavon WAS 11.94
Jacinta Monroe WAS 11.82
Marie Ferdinand-Harris LAS 11.81
Tamera Young CHI 11.58
Rashanda McCants TOTAL 11.54
Sidney Spencer NYL 11.53
Nakia Sanford WAS 11.45
Monica Wright MIN 10.96
Alexis Hornbuckle TOTAL 10.95
Yelena Leuchanka ATL 10.93
Shavonte Zellous TOTAL 10.78
DeMya Walker CON 10.61
Kiesha Brown TUL 10.55
Katie Smith WAS 10.49
Tangela Smith PHO 10.21
Belinda Snell SAS 10.07
Kelsey Griffin CON 10.05
Shalee Lehning ATL 10.03
Tully Bevilaqua IND 9.95
Roneeka Hodges SAS 9.92
Taylor Lilley PHO 9.85
Megan Frazee SAS 9.53
Jene Morris IND 9.22
Gabriela Marginean MIN 9.13
Kelly Miller ATL 9.01
Kalana Greene NYL 8.75
Cathrine Kraayeveld CHI 8.70
Coco Miller ATL 8.55
Crystal Kelly SAS 8.55
Allison Hightower CON 8.46
Ketia Swanier PHO 8.36
Nicole Ohlde TOTAL 8.33
Ashley Houts WAS 8.20
Ashley Robinson SEA 8.00
Sandora Irvin CHI 7.52
Hamchétou Maïga-Ba  MIN 7.23
Shay Murphy TOTAL 7.10
Kerri Gardin CON 6.73
Brittainey Raven ATL 6.52
Jessica Moore IND 6.31
Abi Olajuwon CHI 6.25
Helen Darling SAS 5.69
Abby Bishop SEA 5.23
Kia Vaughn NYL 4.69
Nikki Blue NYL 4.31
Joy Cheek IND 3.43
Quanitra Hollingsworth MIN 2.92
Chanel Mokango LAS 2.82
Amanda Thompson TUL 2.54
Ashley Battle SAS 1.84
Sequoia Holmes PHO 1.46
Christi Thomas CHI 0.49
Nuria Martinez MIN -0.66
Alison Lacey SEA -1.42
Tiffany Stansbury LAS -2.51
Kristen Mann MIN -3.11
Ashley Walker TUL -19.58

(*) - Why is Jessica Adair so high on this list?  Remember, PER isn't an additive metric.  She only played 14 minutes this year, but PER realllly liked those 14 minutes.  If she played 140 minutes her PER might possibly be lower.