There are so many different ways for a player to be a great playmaker. There's those who excel at pressuring the defense to force rotations and open up teammates, and use their passing ability to get the ball to those spots. There's players who are just so good at passing the ball that they are consistently placing their team in the most efficient spots possible without forcing much defensive adjustment. Others may require unique defensive attention because of their scoring ability, and basic reads are enough to create a huge advantage over the defense. Some players have that level of gravity off the ball, and create opportunities for their team to score without ever even touching it.
What's the most valuable form of playmaking though? That's what Estimated Playmaking Impact (EPI) measures, using a combination of both the volume and value of a player's creation along with their passing ability and team situation to estimate how much impact they provide as a playmaker per 100 possessions.
The most prominent form of playmaking is creation, which is the opening up of scoring opportunities for teammates by attracting defensive attention. There are multiple ways to create these opportunities for teammates including spacing the floor, drawing a double team that creates a power play, applying pressure to the rim and opening up shooters, along with many more, and I feel that Ben Taylor's "Box Creation" model does a great job at capturing the value in all of them.
Box Creation estimates the number of shots a player creates per 100 possessions.
However, the metric can be a bit biased towards the modern era because of the 3 point explosion, so I use an era-adjusted version to even out the playing field a bit.
While that pretty much covers a player's ability to create opportunities, we still haven't included the guys who are just so good at passing the ball that they are able to capitalize on advantages without having to move the defense. What better way to capture that ability than through "Passer Rating", an estimate of a player's passing talent. It's almost impossible for a player to not be adding at least some value as a playmaker if they are a high-level passer, but that passing ability becomes significantly more valuable as they create more shots, and that combination right there is where we see the most impactful playmakers:
The final input within EPI is meant to make a slight adjustment for team situation, as it becomes harder to make plays for your team with worse spacing. This is where my Lineup Spacing metric comes into play; this is a simple, yet effective measurement that looks at the team around a specific player and how they shoot the outside shot, relative to their era. The downside to this is that 3 point data can only go far as back as the 3 point line itself, meaning EPI only goes back to 1980.
If you're interested in viewing the results of EPI and the best seasons on record, you can do so by becoming a member here.