Player Evaluation Metrics

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Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP)
Author: Kevin Pelton

WARP, a metric which is invented by Kevin Pelton, stands for Wins Above Replacement Player. The term and concept are borrowed from sabermetrics and, specifically, Baseball Prospectus.

Conceptually, the WARP system seeks to evaluate players in the context of a team made up of them and four completely average players. The performance of this team is then compared to that of a team made up of four average players and one replacement level player. The method also draws heavily on the work of
Dean Oliver.

Using replacement level shows the value of players who can play heavy minutes and avoid injury while continuing to perform above replacement level. Using wins gives a measure of value that is easy to understand and constant over time. Lastly, by eschewing the traditional linear weights method so common in basketball analysis, WARP does a better job of incorporating defensive value. Learn more about WARP calculation.

Comments: Like all rating systems based on box-score data, WARP cannot account for contributions that are not tracked in the box score, most notably on defense. It does no better than linear weights methods at evaluating players like Bruce Bowen. Also, it requires a number of assumptions - the value of assists, the trade-off between usage and efficiency, and replacement level. But, this rating system is very flexible. Players can be rated on a per-minute basis (using the theoretical "winning percentage" of the team with four average players), in terms of their offense and defense and in terms of their overall value.

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