Sports teams do not exist in a vacuum. There will always be additional factors that come into play: chemistry, location, market attraction, and going rate per position. It’s no surprise that someone would want to live in Miami as opposed to Cleveland. People are beings of values, and not everyone values the same thing. Steve Nash could have been paid more money to play somewhere other than Los Angeles, but being close to his family was his number one priority. Having a great chance at winning the title didn’t hurt either; years of inter-conference rivalry won’t change those desires.
Based on that information, one can clearly say that these graphs only account for those most obvious variables. But that said, they do point out the tendencies in the ways that teams spend money. The Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets and Thunder could all be considered wise spenders, at least in terms of talent on the court. In terms of cap expenditures, the Lakers are clearly paying more than the rest. Such is the cost for bringing in high-end talent. But it’s not as if the Lakers are paying that kind of money for Rashard Lewis or Gilbert Arenas. It’s Kobe-freakin-Bryant.
The trend is that advanced metrics are being used to evaluate players, and while NBA Rank is far from being classified as an advanced metric (it’s media opinion for crying out loud), the idea of determining whether a player is earning their paycheck is something general managers will always have to keep in mind. It’s about time for league-wide evaluation to expand beyond reputation and legendary status. General managers, in this climate, can’t afford to do anything else.
Larry Coon has published another article regarding salary-talent evaluation, this time marking the difference between NBA teams. His study includes the 5 most underpaid and 5 most overpaid teams in the league, using his format described above. Check it out. (Once again, you have to be an ESPN Insider to read it. Sorry if that’s inconvenient.)
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