Plus/Minus has served as a valuable metric ever since it first started showing up in the box scores during the 2007-08 NBA season. The statistic offering insights into a player’s impact on the game and accurately calculates the point differential during a player’s time on the court. A positive plus/minus indicates that the player’s team outscored the opponents, while a negative plus/minus means that the team was outscored during those minutes that player played.
For instance, a +10 signifies that, during the player’s presence, their team scored 10 more points than the opposing team. Beyond scoring, plus/minus accounts for defensive contributions, rewarding players who excel on both ends of the court.
NBA Players with the Highest +/- in a Game
This metric proves instrumental for coaches and analysts in evaluating a player’s overall influence. Consistently positive plus/minus values indicate a player’s substantial impact on the team’s success with specific units. Essentially, it serves as the NBA’s acknowledgment that a player’s presence contributes significantly to positive outcomes. It can also indicate that one team is firing on all cylinders while the other team stayed out too late the previous night. The list of the NBA players with the highest plus/minus numbers come during some of the league’s biggest blowouts. Take a look:
|Luc Mbah a Moute||+57||11/22/2017||HOU||DEN||125-95|
|Gary Trent Jr.||+54||04/02/2021||TOR||GSW||130-77|
Four Notable Games with Best Player Plus/Minus
Notably, instances of remarkable plus/minus performances often coincide with significant blowout victories, emphasizing the statistic’s in representing the magnitude of such wins.
On November 22, 2017, the Houston Rockets secured a commanding victory against the Denver Nuggets, and amid the triumph, backup forward and journeyman Luc Mbah a Moute made headlines with an extraordinary +57 in plus-minus, the highest plus/minus in NBA history.
Mbah a Moute’s positive impact as measured by plus/minus surpassed the previous record held by Joe Smith for the Timberwolves, who posted a +52 in a win over the Bulls on November 8, 2001. That’s when the Chicago Bulls experienced a nightmarish game against the Timberwolves, resulting in a 53-point loss that read 127-74 on the stat sheet. This blowout saw three Timberwolves players accumulate three of the highest plus/minus numbers in NBA history starting with Joe Smith’s +52 followed by Wally Szczerbiak’s +50 and Terrell Brandon’s +48.
In a historic showdown on Halloween day 2002, the Washington Wizards, led by an age-defying Michael Jordan, handed the Boston Celtics a devastating 45-point loss, marking the largest defeat in the Celtics’ 56-year history at that time. Jordan, rebounding from a lackluster performance the previous game showcased his enduring offensive ability as the 39 year old scored 21 points in just 21 minutes before the game was all but decided. While Jordan scored 21 points, it was Jared Jeffries and Tyronn Lue that had the Wizards highest +/- with +50 and +49 respectively.
In a dominant display, the Toronto Raptors celebrated Pascal Siakam’s 27th birthday with a historic 130-77 victory over the Golden State Warriors on April 2, 2021. Siakam led the charge with an impressive 36 points as the Raptors shot 53.4%. The margin of victory, a staggering 53 points, set a new NBA record for the season. Gary Trent Jr. contributed 24 points and a +54 in terms of plus/minus. That’s the second highest plus/minus in NBA history. OG Anunoby contributed 21 points. The Raptors once led by as much as 61 points and that marked the largest in the NBA since 2018.