The NBA is a stat driven game, especially this day in age, when you can measure almost anything that you can think of. Player’s performance and impact are measured continuously, and the teams use that data when they are drafting but also signing players on multiple years. In a recent interview for the Complex News, Gary Payton talked about the impact of +/- when teams are signing players and how stats sometimes don’t tell the whole story.
The primary purpose of +/- in the NBA is that it tells you how much better a team played on offense and defense when a given player was on the floor. It also shows how much improvement that individual player did for his team in a specific time frame. Payton doesn’t believe in the +/- because players have an impact on their teams that don’t show in the stat sheet; therefore, it’s impossible to measure that.
“That don’t mean nothing to me because of a simple fact if you have a bad game. Your job is to make your team better and make everything around you better. If you are struggling, you’re not going to keep struggling, and then why are you in the NBA? They keep you for some reason.”
The teams that recognize the value of a player in a way Payton is talking about rewarding him with a big long-term contract even though he is not producing big numbers. The teams are aware a player brings something to the table that makes the team better and usually fits well within their system. Payton believes the math is simple; if you make your team better, than you deserve a big contract, although it doesn’t show in the stat sheet.
“When you look at these guys who make 5-6 points per game and then all of a sudden we give him a contract for 80 million dollars so they must be worth something. So the +/- ain’t doing nothing for me anyway because the office is not telling you anything anyway. The +/- doesn’t mean anything to me. If you can make your team and whatever role you have on that team better, be okay, and than you are fine.”