A metric for the degree to which players are playing up to their talent

Rolling average of VORP over the last 10 games divided by the highest 10-game rolling VORP average over the course of this player’s 3 most recent seasons.

How would this be useful?

This metric would capture just how much a given player is performing relative to their own potential. This metric is intended to measure the degree to which a team is making use of a given player. Successful teams are those who maximize on their player strengths. Knowing where a player stands in terms of distance to potential is therefore important in understanding whether the player-team combination is on the right track.

The goal is to help the team would be able to better diagnose the source of underperformance. If it is an individual issue, then executives may want to sit with the player. Perhaps there is an underlying medical injury or a mental health issue, in which case perhaps they might want to offer a break. For example, James Harden with the sixers is performing far from his MVP days. If it is a systemic issue that many players are performing below potential, then the issue is not at the level of players. In this case, a change in coaching strategy might be needed.

This leads naturally to another useful application of this metric: aggregation. From a macro perspective, the mean across a team’s 5 highest usage players would represent the degree to which a given team is outperforming expectations — a clear cut indicator for head coach performance.

I’ve written about the contribution of head coaches as one of the most overlooked features of a successful franchise. There continues to be a lack of systematic analysis of coaching despite what may be seen as obvious importance. Great coaches elevate their players performance, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Aggregated metric would be one way to estimate how impactful the coaching strategy has been. A low score may suggest that a coach a shift in his/her approach. But it’s not necessarily limited to coaching. A low performing team relative potential could be a signal of deeper issues: poorly run organizations, reefs in the front office typically reflect in the cohesion of the team, which in turn manifests itself in players’ statistical contribution.