In a salary cap-driven league, which NBA player is producing the most value for his current contract?
When listening to NBA TV shows, podcasts, or radio programs, discussions about “bad contracts” or “good contracts” come up almost as frequently as the games themselves. Oftentimes, though, it can be a difficult task to subjectively decipher exactly which players are on optimal contracts compared to those on poor ones.
The goal of this piece is to shine a light on exactly which players are most outperforming the expectations of their current contracts in a subjective manner.
Before diving into the top 10 players who are most outperforming their contract, one must first know the formula behind the data and information below.
For the entire set of data in an Excel file, follow the link below:
The goal of this formula is to find an accurate way to quantify the impact a player has on the court. The statistics used in the formula below include points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, total win shares, value over replacement level player, player efficiency rating, and turnovers.
*Note: Points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers are all on a per game basis.
Impact Score =(points+rebounds+(assists*1.5)+steals+blocks+(TWS*2)+(VORP²)+(PER/2)-TO)
Salary Per Impact Score = 2015-16 Player Salary / (points+rebounds+(assists*1.5)+steals+blocks+(TWS*2)+(VORP²)+(PER/2)-TO)
Example: Draymond Green has an impact score of 59.61, and a salary of $14,300,000. Therefore, Green would have a salary per impact point (SPIP) of $239,892.64.
For a player to qualify for this list, he must meet two simple requirements. First off, the player must have logged at least 600 minutes this season. To put that in perspective, that equals about 20 minutes per game for most teams. Secondly, the player must be making at least the league average salary of $4.9 million dollars per year.
The salary requirement was implemented because most players on minimum contracts had a extreme advantage over all other players, due to the fact that they do not need to accumulate many stats to have a good impact score to salary ratio. It is important to note, though, that before the salary requirement was implemented, Hassan Whiteside, Ish Smith, and TJ Mcconnell, by far, were the players most outperforming their current contracts.
Now let’s get to the top 10.
10. Darren Collison, Salary Per Impact Point of $156,722.69
After starting every game that he played last season, Collison has now taken a back-up role to Rajon Rondo in Sacramento, but, even as bench player, Collison is still finding ways to be a useful NBA point guard.
Collison is getting to the rack a fair amount this season, as one fourth of his shot attempts come at the rim, and to make it even sweeter, the Kings point guard is shooting over 63% on shots near the basket. While Collison may be taking a few to many mid-range jumpers, with 20% of his shots coming between 10 and 16 feet, he has been surprisingly efficient with those looks, as DC is shooting 58% on such shots.
Collison’s per game averages of 13.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, 1 SPG, with a 13.4 PER, in combination with his $5,013,559 salary, makes the Kings back-up point guard on of the best deals in the NBA.
9. Marcus Morris, Salary Per Impact Point of $145,602.80
After being in his brother’s shadow for three years in Phoenix, Marcus Morris has now solidified himself as a quality NBA starting forward for the Detroit Pistons. In his first season in the Motor City, Morris is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Here is a look at his full statistics for this season:
*TOV= Turnovers Per Game, WS= Win Shares, VORP= Value Over Replacement Player
Mook’s most impressive stat is his astonishingly good On/Off numbers. While Morris is on the floor, the Pistons have an offensive rating 107.7, but when this Morris twin is sitting on the bench, Detroit’s offensive rating plummets to 92.5.
With a $5,000,000 contract that is only slightly above league average, Morris is providing tremendous value for this Piston’s basketball team.
8. Pau Gasol, Salary Per Impact Point of $144,804.82
After starting in last year’s All-Star Game, trade rumors have surface about the former two-time NBA Champion. No amount of rumors can stop Pau Gasol though, as he is averaging a solid 16.2 points and 10.7 rebounds on the season.
This season, almost 60% of Gasol’s shot attempts are either at the rim or long two point jumpers. Here is a look at Gasol’s 2015-16 shot chart so far:
As one can tell from the graph above, the man nicknamed the Meal Ticket has been extremely deadly when taking shots from the top of the key and around the basket area, and even though 34% of Gasol’s field goal attempts are long twos, he is still finding a way to be efficient in his overall game.
In addition to Gasol’s solid shooting season, the Spanish big man is also ranked fifth among qualified centers in real-plus minus (RPM) and sixth in PER.
Making only $7,448,760 dollars per year, the Chicago Bulls center has been a walking double-double this season. Gasol’s high per game averages, in addition with his 21.8 PER rating and 3.3 Win Shares, make him not only the best value on the current NBA trade block, but also the eighth best value in the entire NBA.
7. Deron Williams, Salary Per Impact Point of $142,894.26
After a disastrous stint in Brooklyn, Deron Willimas has found a new home in Dallas. After signing a two-year deal with the Mavericks, the former All-NBA guard is once again finding his touch.
Making only $5,378,974 dollars this season, Williams is giving the Mavs 14.8-3.3-4.8 on a nightly basis, while also providing spacing all the way out to the three-point line, and there are still some nights when the Mavericks get a throwback D-Will performance, just like the one below:
6. Tim Duncan, Salary Per Impact Point of $129,836.41
At 39 years old, the Big Fundamental is still producing at an elite level on both ends of the floor. So far this season, Duncan is shooting over 70% on attempts at the rim, which is over 10 percentage points better then the league average.
To make things even better, Old Man Riverwalk, at almost 40 years old, is leading all NBA centers in real-plus minus. And that’s not all; Duncan is currently leading the entire NBA in defensive real-plus minus by over six-tenths of a point.
It seems as if each offseason Duncan returns to the Spurs on an even cheaper deal, and in 2015-16, Timmy D is earning only $5,250,000 for his elite production. It is a surprise to no one that Duncan comes in on this list as the sixth best value in the NBA.
To see the top five contracts in the NBA, come back next week to read part two of “The Top 10 NBA Players Who Are Outplaying Their Contracts.”
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