Last week, John Hollinger went out of his way to take a shot at Brandon Rush for his low PER rating despite playing the most minutes of any player on the Pacers. For one, Rush's play has improved throughout the year. Plus, Rush leading the team in minutes wasn't by design. The second-year guard has simply been available to play every game and play in a variety of lineups.
All of this isn't to say Rush has had a great season or even played consistently well, but I also wouldn't consider him a leading scapegoat for this season.
Wayne Winston actually responded to Hollinger's story with his adjusted +/- rating to offer Rush a little help-side. Since Hollinger has Troy Murphy at a 17.7 PER (as of March 26) compared to Rush's 9.96 PER, Winston compared Murph's adjusted +/- value to Rush's and found that the Pacers fare better with Rush than with Murphy.
As we have often stated, the box score misses a lot. When we look at how the score of the game moves and adjust for the strength of players Murphy and Rush play with we find Rush has an Adjusted +/- of around 0 and Murphy has a -7 Adjusted +/- which means we estimate that Troy Murphy in for 48 minutes is 7 points worse than an average NBA player. So we believe Murphy must be doing some bad things that do not show up in the box score and in all likelihood Rush does many good things that do not show up in the box score. Jim O’Brien must also believe that Rush has "hidden virtues."
Winston also breaks down the impact on other players on the roster when Murphy and Rush on in or out of the game, which also favors Rush. Again, these numbers aren't great nor a defense of Rush as a great player, but they do show he is adding some value to the Pacers not captured in his low PER rating.