Which Positions Are NBA Teams Spending the Most Money On?
This past Halloween, treats weren't just for the kids going door-to-door. As a matter of fact, a few lucky NBA players got in on the action as well.
Last Monday night was the deadline for NBA teams to offer early contract extensions to members of the 2013 draft class, and for that reason -- even though that particular draft class has yet to yield a proven superstar -- the NBA was full of action on All Hallows' Eve. Five different players -- Steven Adams, Gorgui Dieng Rudy Gobert, Victor Oladipo, and Cody Zeller -- signed contract extensions worth a total of $404 million.
If you want to go back even further, that number climbs even higher. In adding the deals of Giannis Antetokounmpo, C.J. McCollum, and Dennis Schroder, that's $680 million spread across eight players from the aforementioned 2013 draft. The total is certainly staggering, but what else jumps out among these deals?
Adams, Dieng, Gobert, and Zeller are all big men. While Dieng primarily slots in at the four spot, Adams, Gobert, and Zeller are all fairly traditional centers.
That's weird! I thought the NBA was headed more toward floor-spacing, small-ball, and non-traditional centers (sometimes power forwards). Oh, it is? Then what gives? Are centers and other bigs being paid too much?
Let's take a look how each position (particularly its top-20 highest paid) is compensated and how they perform in comparison to their salaries.
Prior to Extensions
Prior to all the recent extensions, on average, small forwards were paid the most. Among the top 20 at each position, however, centers were paid the most, followed by small forwards.
Point guards, shooting guards, and power forwards were all around $16 million.
At around $18.8 million, centers are still the highest paid position, on average, after the most recent extensions.
The top-20 average is nearly a million higher for centers. As for shooting guards, their top-20 average is over a million more. The medians indicate that center contains more extreme values on the higher side. The same can be said for shooting guard. So, we can conclude that both have increased as a result of the extensions.
How do those figures match up with the each position's performance, based on advanced metrics?
Pay Versus Performance
In order to measure accurately, here are the combined win shares per 48 minutes so far this season of each position's 20 highest-paid players.
|Top-20 Total WS/48||2.421||1.608||1.9603||2.497||2.893|
Justifiably, centers are paid the most. After all, the top 20 have the highest combined win shares per 48 total by nearly 0.4 over the next closest position. Power forwards are second, suggesting that they, as a whole, are underpaid for their value. The same can be said for point guards, whose value and efficiency are important in today's NBA.
Small forwards, who are, on average, the second highest paid position are overcompensated considerably based on early returns. It's definitely understandable as superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are among the highest paid players in the entire league. Shooting guards are also being compensated fairly more than the metrics indicate. They've received a few lucrative extensions as of late, but two-guards are by nature very inefficient. They do a lot of outside shooting and not so much in terms of other statistical categories.
So, in conclusion, it may come as a surprise with the league shifting toward smaller lineups, but centers are understandably the top paid position in the NBA. They are highly efficient and super productive, even in today's NBA landscape.