Sunday, March 23, 2014

2013-14 Player Salary per Win Share (as of March 22)

I wanted to update the list of most cost-effective contracts in the NBA through so I pulled player advanced stats and salary data from on March 22. As a rough measure of player efficacy I used Win Shares (WS), which attempts to estimate the number of wins a player contributes to his team in a given season (read this for Basketball-Reference's detailed explanation of the measure). I divided the player's 2013-14 salary by WS to determine, which player contributes the greatest number of wins to his team at the lowest cost to the organization. For some reference, the average cost per WS was $1,551,542 and the median cost per WS was $1,427,214.

Typically, I standardize statistics as per minute or per 48 minutes of performance to take into account for the fact that players that play more minutes also are likely to accrue more statistics than players that play fewer minutes. ( does provide WS per 48 minutes.) But taking salary into account changes the dynamics because a player receives his salary regardless if he plays 30 minutes a game or if he plays 2 minutes a game. As a result, the organization benefits from total WS (as opposed to WS/ 48) because the player receives his full salary and not some prorated amount based on performance.

I filtered the population of 2013-14 NBA players to those that have played 100 minutes or more, which left me with 422 players. The chart below shows the full spectrum of those 422 players: Ekpe Udoh is the most expensive per WS and Isaiah Thomas is the least expensive per WS. Among the 39 qualifying players with a negative WS, Kobe Bryant comes at the greatest cost to his team (i.e., his contract in 2013-14 is very burdensome and when he plays he has a negative effect on his team's chances of winning a game--this is a bad thing.)

First, the good--the table below lists the 10 most cost-effective contracts this season in reverse order. When taking salary into account, this table suggests that Isaiah Thomas, Lance Stephenson, and Chandler Parsons are the best players this season. To give you some context of cost/ WS of other notable players, consider: LeBron ($1.45M), Durant ($1.05M), Deron Williams ($4.01M), Kevin Love ($1.13M), and John Wall ($1.04M).


The five least cost-effective contracts of players with a positive WS are listed below. Ekpe Udoh and Charlie Villanueva have the most cost-ineffective contracts. But they're not the worst . . .

While the 5 most cost-ineffective players listed above prove burdensome on the financial well-being of their organizations, they all at least contribute to WS. Among players that have played at least 100 minutes in the 2013-14 NBA season, there are 39 players with a negative WS. In other words, when they are on the floor they actually hurt their team's chances of winning. It's one thing to be Jason Terry or Aaron Gray and to be paid a lot to help a little, it's another thing to be paid a lot and to hurt one's team. The table below shows that Kobe, Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo are the greatest offenders of this latter group. Ignoring injuries to players, like Bryant and Rose, from a cost-efficacy standpoint there is evidence to suggest that through March 22, OJ Mayo is the most burdensome player in the NBA.

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