NBA’s Most Cost-Efficient Cs
There is always much debate in professional sports about which players are overpaid or underpaid, which ones are the most efficient on the floor, and which ones are simply the most productive. But what about a marriage of all of those? Which NBA players are the most cost-efficient?
This is the third piece in a series looking at the starters at all five positions (check out the point guards, shooting guards , small forwards and power forwards), one at a time, in an attempt to determine which players are the most cost-efficient players taking into account their production and salary. The assumption is there should be a general correlation between a player’s production – and for this purpose we will use John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating – and his salary.
Will that hold true? Take a look at the list of starting centers below, with their 2010-11 salary and PER, plus a final column dividing their salary by PER to give a simple dollar amount of how much each point of PER cost their team.
By now the theme of these pieces is probably pretty apparent; players on rookie contracts are going to be the most cost effective. There are nine such players on this list, though they are spread out over the top 13 most cost-efficient players. The veterans in that mix? Charlotte’s Kwame Brown, Houston’s Chuck Hayes, Detroit’s Ben Wallace, and New York’s Ronny Turiaf. All but Hayes also posted a PER below the average of 15.0.
Those on their rookie contracts are a solid group. Two of them – Atlanta’s Al Horford and Chicago’s Joakim Noah – signed extensions last summer and will make significantly more when basketball resumes again. New Jersey’s Brook Lopez and Washington’s JaVale McGee may be in the market for lucrative early extensions when the lockout is lifted as well. Memphis’ Marc Gasol, who was issued a Qualifying Offer and will be a restricted free agent, may be one the biggest names in free agency. The L.A. Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – the most cost-efficient player on this list and also restricted – could be right behind him.
Speaking of average, this entire group’s average PER was 15.1 despite the fact only 12 of the 30 players poster below average PER. How? Three players posting PER under 10.0 don’t help, but neither does the 7.3 posted by Miami’s Joel Anthony. Then again, perhaps this is not fair to Anthony, who did not start the entire season, but did finish the playoffs in that position. Zydrunas Ilgauskas (PER of 12.8) started the majority of the games at center, and Erick Dampier (9.8 PER) also had starts.
What’s the worst deal? Do we automatically choose Sacramento’s Samuel Dalembert, with his below average PER and $13.4 million salary? Probably. He cost his team $98k more per point of PER than the runner-up, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan – and his resume doesn’t come close to Duncan’s. For Duncan that salary is as much for what he has done over his career as what he’s doing now (but still, a PER of 21.9 is second on this list only to Howard).
Outside of the rookies who has the best combination of production and value? Well, Orlando’s Dwight Howard made $16.6 million last season, but also posted the second-best PER in the entire NBA. Despite the second-highest salary on this list – which is well deserved – Howard is still more cost-effective than eight other players. Phoenix’s Marcin Gortat, who used to be Howard’s backup before an early season trade for Jason Richardson, is a fantastic deal. He wasn’t put into the starting lineup until late in the season, so his PER of 17.3 is probably lower than it could have been (but still second only to Steve Nash on the Suns), and since he signed a full MLE deal in 2009 he’s locked in for three more years at a relatively cheap rate.
What do you take from this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Follow Jason Fleming on Twitter.