NBA Rookies find themselves in a unique situation the morning after the NBA Draft. After years of practice, preparation, and hard work, these men have finally achieved their dreams of making it into the NBA. However, not every NBA Rookie will be given an equal opportunity to perform. Depending on their draft spot, positional depth, and apparent NBA-readiness, some NBA Rookies will be provided a chance to display their skill set from day 1, whereas other will have to ride the bench and bide their time.
Due to the inequality of opportunities given to NBA Rookies, fans may not be able to truly appreciate the quality player that has recently joined their team if not for advanced statistics. While the “eye test” may cause fans to be ecstatic about certain rookies, these fans may be misled by flashy playing styles and gaudy statistics. To prevent fans from being misled, a more objective test can be applied to players’ stat sets to view a better picture of how these rookies performed during their inaugural season.
The objective test I am referring to is the Player Efficiency Rating (PER). This number is calculated by a formula put together by John Hollinger, former ESPN analyst and writer and current Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. The formula largely factors offensive statistics, making the formula imperfect at evaluating players. However, it is a standard that is considered by the vast majority of the industry as a rating that can be considered when comparing players. The league-average PER is always 15, allowing us to compare these rookies to the average player in the entire NBA.
While this measurement is not perfect and can be skewed in various directions based on many factors, it is a good way to compare players and consider what sort of impact a player might have if given a more substantial opportunity. With this explanation in mind, I’d like to provide you with the top 15 NBA Rookies during the 2015-2016 NBA season based on PER. I would also like to point out the following statistical PER factors for each rookie that I believe are more valuable: effective field goal percentage (eFG%), total rebound percentage (TRB%), assist percentage (AST%), turnover percentage (TOV%), steal percentage (STL%), block percentage (BLK%), usage rate (USG%), offensive rating (ORtg), and defensive rating (DRtg).
I truly think you will be very surprised once you see which rookie came in at the top spot (Hint: it’s not the rookie of the year winner).