What Does EFF Stand for in Basketball?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Are you having difficulty understanding what does EFF mean in NBA? You are not alone. Eff is the shortened form of efficiency. This article will thoroughly explain how efficiency works for both the offensive and the defensive sides of the court. After you finish reading this piece, you will better understand what sports broadcasters, coaches, and journalists are discussing when they bring up a player’s efficiency rating (PER).

Why is Efficiency Rating Important in BasketballWhy is Efficiency Rating Important in Basketball?

EFF is not as easy to understand as PTS and RBS, which are points and rebounds and are pretty straightforward. There are many different types of efficiency stats, and each requires quite a bit of calculation. Understanding each of these metrics is important because they each show how your favorite players perform when placed under a microscope. An understanding of the different types of efficiency ratings gives you a better idea of what each player is doing right and what they need to improve on.

There are many different types of efficiency ratings. These include Efficiency Rating (EFF), Defensive Player Rating (DPR), Player Efficiency Rating (PER), and for the EU leagues, Performance Index Rating (PIR). Here’s a breakdown.

  • Efficiency rating is basically a way to use the main offensive statistical categories versus the main defensive statistical categories to determine how good or how poorly a player has played over a number of games.
  • The Defensive Player Rating is a metric used to show how well or poorly an individual player plays on defense by combining steals, blocks, possessions, and deflections. 
  • Player Efficiency Rating is the most common efficiency rating metric. Surprisingly, it is a product of a very complex calculation that accounts for positive stats such as field goals, free throws, rebounds, etc. It only accounts for two defensive categories, which are blocks and steals. This makes it primarily an offensive statistic.
  • PIR is the least common efficiency statistic because it is only used in Europe for the Euro League and the Euro Cup. It is calculated using statistical categories such as points, rebounds, blocks, and fouls drawn versus missed field goals, turnovers, fouls committed, etc.

Efficiency ratings are significant for a number of factors and for a number of different groups of people. Take a look.

  • A fan of the game of basketball should find efficiency ratings vital because they help you to understand the actual impact of your favorite players on the court. In this age of social media, people will get drawn into highlights of a few plays by specific players, but those highlights are often far from the full story. When you compare the various efficiency ratings of players, you better understand how they impact their team’s win-loss records over the course of entire games or a few minutes of play.
  • Efficiency ratings are essential to coaches as well. Coaches consider efficiency ratings when they are drawing up game plans. A player with an excellent defensive efficiency rating would be a better choice to guard an opposing team’s better scorers than a player with a poor defensive efficiency rating. Coaches also consider efficiency ratings for training exercises. Efficiency ratings are great statistics to show which players need to work on different areas of their game. Depending on the needs of the team, a player with a high-Efficiency Rating, but a very poor Defensive Rating, may be given drills and exercises that can help their defensive prowess.
  • These ratings are critical to scouts. Whether it’s a scout that wants to import a player from another league into theirs or a scout that wants to suggest the player for a trade, or for scouts that are looking talent for high school or college programs, efficiency ratings help scouts to understand what players will fit the needs of their teams so they can decide whether or not to go and see these players play in person.
  • Sports analysts and media personnel are another group of people that find efficiency ratings essential. If you watch any NBA or College Basketball talk show, such as Undisputed or First Things First, you will often hear the terms PER and defensive win-shares thrown around. These media persons use these numbers to debate, explain, or justify their reasons for positively or negatively critiquing different players.

How Does Player Efficiency Rating WorkHow Does Player Efficiency Rating Work?

PER, or Player Efficiency Rating, is a stat that was created by ESPN’s statistician John Hollinger. The purpose of the PER rating system is to measure a player’s per-minute performance in a game and to show how valuable that player is to their franchise.
The Player Efficiency Rating Formula is very complex, and it considers stats such as field goals, free throws, three-pointers, assists, blocks, and steals. Conversely, it accounts for negative stats such as turnovers, personal fouls, and missed shots. The formula for PER gives each category its own points and adds the positive stats, and then subtracts the negative ones.

PER is adjusted on a per-minute basis so that players who play fewer minutes can also be compared to high minutes players. The pace of a team’s play is also taken into account.

Even though the PER stat is a great way to compare a player’s contribution to a particular team, it doesn’t always tell us everything we should know.

A PER of 15 is considered average in the NBA, while a PER higher than the mid-twenties is considered really good. Unfortunately, not every aspect of a basketball game can be quantified by numbers, so even though PER will give you a very good picture of a player’s ranking, it doesn’t always tell the entire story of the game or season.

How to Calculate Efficiency RatingHow to Calculate Efficiency Rating?

A few different calculations are used to calculate basketball efficiency, but the simplest one is one created by Martin Manley. This is the simple calculation, PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK − Missed FG − Missed FT – TO/GP. These are the primary offensive and defensive stats. This is by no means a great representation of a player’s entire value to a team, but it does give an idea of who the better performers on a team are.

These players are usually too good not to affect the major stats of the game, so in their case, it gives a close to an accurate idea of their value to the team. The drawback to the EFF system to this EFF formula is that it only has steals and blocks as defensive stats, so it can be considered to be more as an offensive efficiency rating stat. It does not show other essential things like deflections, shots altered, opponent’s efficiency when playing against them.

Examples of How EFF is Calculated

Nikola Jokic EFF up to All-star break 2023

PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK − Missed FG − Missed FT – TO/GP

1261 + 584 + 515 + 65 + 36 – 279 – 56 – 181 / 51 = 38.13

Joel Embiid EFF up to All-star break 2023

PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK − Missed FG − Missed FT – TO/GP

1489 + 457 + 183 + 52 + 68 – 428 – 74 – 159 / 45 = 35.2

Luka Doncic EFF up to All-Star break 2023

PTS + REB + AST + STL + BLK − Missed FG − Missed FT – TO/GP

1666 + 441 + 407 + 76 + 24 – 550 – 150 – 183 / 50 = 34.6

These were the top three EFF-rated players in the NBA up to the 2023 All-star break. 

Even though Luka and Joel are 1 and 2, respectively, in PPG, and Jokic is all the way down in the 19th spot, he makes up for it with his higher assist total and better FG shooting efficiency. He is a better all-round contributor to his team, so his EFF rating is going to be better than the two best scorers in the league. 

What is a Good NBA Efficiency RatingWhat is a Good NBA Efficiency Rating?

An EFF of 15 is the league average. This is a rating that you’d usually see for players that are good role players. For example, Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics has an EFF rating of 15.3. Players with EFF ratings from the low to mid-twenties are usually pretty good players, like Evan Mobley (21.00) or even stars like Jaylen Brown (23.65). The top 9 EFF-ranked players (high twenties to thirties) all made the 2022-23 NBA All-star Game. 

Player  Team  EFF
1. Nikola Jokic DEN 38.14
2. Joel Embiid PHI 35.31
3. Luka Doncic DAL 34.62
4. G. Antetokounmpo MIL 32.66
5. LeBron James LAL 31.13
6. Domantas Sabonis SAC 30.55
7. Shai Gilgeous-Alexa OKC 30.23
8. Jayson Tatum BOS 30.07
9. Damian Lillard POR 29.37

Wrapping Things Up: What Does EFF Mean in NBA?

EFF is the shortened form of the word efficiency. There are many forms of efficiency stats in basketball that account for a player’s effectiveness on offense per game, offense per minute, and on defense. These stats categories include PER, EFF, DPR, and PIR. PIR isn’t as common as the others as it is used in the European professional basketball leagues.

These are great ways to quantify the importance of a player to their team, especially more talented players, but it doesn’t always show the full picture. These stats, except for DPR, are heavily affected by offensive performances. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as basketball has become an offensive-talent-driven sport, but players who hang their hat on defense, or play a solid mixture of both may get dinged in these ratings. You should now be able to properly critique a player based on the EFF in basketball meaning. 

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Picture of Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected?

Getting into the All-Star game is no simple feat. For some players, it may take several seasons of high-level play to get the nod. However, other exceptional talents come into the league with so much...

Read More
What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

Basketball is a world of its own with unique terms or jargon, in and out of the court. Through the years, more terms have been developed to represent specific things about the sport, and understanding...

Read More