The value equation – overpaid and underpaid Jazz players

January 10th, 2011 | by K.Malphurs

There is a reason why people enjoy shopping on Black Friday.  Is it the opportunity to buy stuff?  No.  You can go to a store any day and buy till your heart is content and your wallet is empty.  Is it because stuff is cheap?  No.  You can go to Dollar Tree seven days a week.  The reason that people go shopping on Black Friday is because of the deals you can get.  Specifically they go there because of the value.  

In the NBA we tend to focus on one side of the value equation.  How much does a player help the team?  For example will the Nets make the playoffs by adding Carmelo?  The issue is that with a salary cap there is a need to look at the other side of the equation.  How much does a player cost?  The value equation in the NBA should be cost divided by production.  It is great to get a very productive player, but it is also important to look at the cost.

Based on my calculation NBA teams will pay out nearly $2 billion in salaries ranging from $24.8M to Kobe Bryant to $473,604 for a rookie like Derrick Caracter or Ishmael Smith.  There will be 1,230 games and therefore 1,230 winners.  Based on that the cost of a win for the 2010-2011 season comes in at $1.6M.  Therefore if you pay a player $1.6M in salary you should expect that player to directly contribute to one win for that player to justify his salary.  Somebody like Kobe Bryant needs to contribute to at least 15 wins to *justify his salary.

*I am not looking at any marketing aspects like how a player might affect attendance.  That is tougher to judge and instead I am more curious about a players contributions through numbers that are easily accessible.

This analysis should be extremely important to Jazz management since the ownership wants a winner, but doesn’t want to pay the luxury tax.   Based on that lets see who is providing the most value to the Jazz.  I am going to dividing each player’s salaries with how their projected wins and rank them on this cost of win statistic.   There will be a clear distinction of which Jazz players are overpaid and which ones are underpaid. 

Below is a chart with the Salary divided by the Projected Win Shares:

Any Jazz player above the line between C.J. Miles and Al Jefferson are players that are earning their salary for the Jazz.  Anyone below the line (starting with Big Al) are players who are overpaid.  The key observations of the above are:

  • Paul Millsap is one the most valuable players in the league when you consider his salary ($7.6M) and production (11.2 projected win shares at a great 0.19 WS/48 minute average). 
  • Deron Williams might be paid a lot of money, but he is worth every penny.
  • The Jazz might not get much production out of their shooting guards (Miles and Bell), but considering what they are paid both are good deals.
  • Al Jefferson is going to have to produce a lot more to justify his $13M salary.
  • All Jazz fans should be glad Andrei Kirilenko’s max contract is finished after this year.
  • Gordon Hayward just needs to keep improving and I see his name moving up the list.
  • Mehmet Okur’s name at the bottom of the list is just because his injury has limited his time to only 4 games and 57 minutes. 

One other thing that is interesting is that if each of the players that are below-average in terms of value produced an average amount of wins per their salary then the Jazz as a team would be projected to win 62 games.  62 games would be a vast improvement over the 47-50 current win projection and take this team from being a good team into a title contending team.  This value equation hopefully sheds a little light on how the Jazz are doing from a personal standpoint.

K.Malphurs

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5 Comments

  1. Danny says:

    I agree with most of the player evaluations but this is obviously flawed when you have somebody like Ronnie Price at the bottom of the list when he makes obvious contributions and he is one of the lowest paid Jazz players. There is no way he is contributing less per dollar paid to wins than players like Kirilenko and Miles….and in no way should he be given any negative ratings.

  2. Kevin Malphurs says:

    Danny – I tend to agree with your comments on Price. From watching the game he seems to be contributing to the Jazz and definitely justifying his low salary. However, his stats just don’t back up that analysis. His Win Shares stat is negative (check out basketball-reference.com) and no matter how low your salary is my calculation isn’t going to work if you have a negative Win Shares. Price’s main statistical problems are his shooting percentages; 39% from the field and 28% from 3. Also, having more turnovers than assists doesn’t help. I think he will improve upon those numbers and will be a valuable player for the Jazz in the 2nd half of the year.

    Also, one thing to keep in mind is that the numbers don’t tell the entire story. It takes you only so far and maybe Price’s value is best defined by numbers.

  3. BillM says:

    If CJ and especially, absolutely essentially Al can get their shooting %’s up we should be OK.

  4. CJ's Barbecue says:

    Based on the many posts like Danny’s about Ronnie Price, and conversations I’ve had with several Jazz fans, I think Price has become the most overrated player on the Jazz. His sweet dunks and the fact he played for a local college seem to make fans ignore that he can’t shoot, can’t run the point, and can’t defend. On defense, since he is incapable of running the point, Price is forced to guard opposing 2-guards, meaning he’s giving up at least 3 inches to whoever he guards. He makes some pretty incredible shots at times, mostly because those are the only shots he can get and even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. Opposing teams lay off of him defensively knowing he won’t make an outside shot, meaning he will be well-covered when he drives, forcing him to throw up acrobatic shots. Sometimes those shots go in and he’s “Diamond Jeweler” of the game, but as Kevin pointed out, his overall shooting percentage is awful. The Jazz are better served when they only have to use Price during garbage time.

    Now, obviously I’m a CJ fan, but he hasn’t done much to help his cause this season after a promising playoff run last season. I’m more disappointed in CJ this year than in Price because Price has so many limitations to his game.

  5. Mitch says:

    Love this analysis. We’ve always known that AK47 and Memo are way overpaid. Now we have the math. Ugly!!!

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