NBA’s Most Cost-Efficient SFs
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 and shooting guards), 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 small forwards 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. The top six names in this table would lead you to believe small forwards would be no different, but then four of the next five names (Grant Hill, Dorrell Wright, Carlos Delfino and Mo Evans) are veteran players.
In fact, just eight of the 31 players (note Memphis has two, Sam Young and Rudy Gay, who missed the entire second half of the season due to injury) in this table are on rookie contracts; the point guard and shooting guard lists had 11 each.
Then there is the issue of PER. As noted, the average PER is set at 15.0. Check out the average PER of the league’s starting small forwards: 14.6. Just two of the rookie contract players – Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley – posted higher than average PERs at 23.7 and 15.5. In fact, just 15 of the players on this list posted a PER of over 15.0 (better than only the shooting guards) despite the fact the average player on this list made $7.8million last season – higher than any group of starters except the power forwards.
The least cost-effective player according to the numbers was Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko at about $1.1 million per point of PER (say that ten times fast). But, he also posted a PER of 16.8. Is he really the least cost effective if he was still productive? That award has to go to New Jersey’s Travis Outlaw who, despite a $7.0 million salary – just under average for starting small forwards – posted a PER of only 8.8. Whereas Kirilenko – and Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison on the other side of Outlaw – weren’t as cost-efficient, they were at least productive NBA players. Outlaw didn’t produce.
Which players were the best combination of salary and production? It’s impossible not to focus solely on Miami’s LeBron James here. Despite being the third-highest paid player on this list at $14.5 million (only behind Kirilenko’s $17.8 million and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony’s $17.1 million), he ranked smack in the middle here at 15th. How? Because James’ 27.3 PER not only led his position but was the highest of any NBA player (Miami, incidentally, with Wade’s 25.7 had two of the top three NBA players with that stat, sandwiched around Orlando’s Dwight Howard). Say what you will about James’, but he also became one of the best bargains in professional sports when he took less money from Miami last summer.
All in all, most teams shouldn’t be overly thrilled with their starters at the three at all for the 2010-11 season, just like the shooting guards. Well, unless that team is Miami, New York, Boston or Oklahoma City. Beyond that group only a few teams really got their money’s worth and a few others really should be looking elsewhere for a starter.
What do you take from this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Follow Jason Fleming on Twitter.