This is an article written by forum member, dba (aka the stat sprocket). Paying for Production: 2007 Season by the stat sprocket At the end of the 2005-2006 season three Pistons were in my list of the league’s twenty most underpaid players. (Salary relative to statistical performance, see the Rating Players section below for details of the methodology used.) Ben Wallace was the fourth most underpaid player, Tayshaun Prince the ninth, and Chauncey Billups the thirteenth most underpaid player in the league. Wallace In the first season of his new contract with the Chicago Bulls, Ben Wallace appeared in 77 games for a cool sixteen million dollars. Last season Ben’s production justified a salary just under fourteen million. So did Ben get better and did the Bulls get their sixteen million dollar man? Not so much. Based on the 2006/2007 regular season Ben should have earned around eleven million, a good step down from the performance that earned him the big deal, but pretty much in line with what the Pistons offered. Score one for Joe D. Prince Last season Tay was still on his rookie contract and performed well over that level with a salary nearly seven million dollars below what his performance would suggest was fair. This year two things happened. First, Prince got some more money with a new contract starting at $7.9 million, and two, he dropped his game a bit, going from a season total of 2,153 sprocket points down to 1,962. That’s still nothing to sneeze at, and translates to a performance justified salary of $8.4 million. Score another one for Joe D. Billups Last season Mr. Big Shot performed at a level that should have earned him nearly $12.4 million. This season was not quite so impressive – a level of performance that would justify a salary only around nine million. Missed games due to injuries account for some of the decline though and if we were to project Billups’ performance to a full 82 game season his performance justified salary would go up to around $10.5 million (still not exactly what one might hope for in a contract year). CB’s reported new gig averaging $11.5 million (starting at $10.0) for your years looks right in line. Hat trick for Joe D. Rating Players To determine how much a player should earn based on his performance I first compute the number of sprocket points by player for the 2006/2007 regular season. Sprocket points are a weighted composite of a large set of basketball statistics. Then I sum sprocket points and salaries across all players and divide the totals to create the league average price paid per sprocket point. With this average value I can determine how much a player should have earned if each were paid solely based on performance. In the tables which follow you’ll see these columns…Player nameTeamGames played during the 2006/2007 regular seasonSalary – the player’s 2006/2007 salary paidFor Games PlayedFair Salary – how much the player should earn solely based on performanceGap – the difference between the performance justified salary and the actualProjected to 82 GamesFair Salary – how much the player would have earned based solely on performance and assuming he played in all 82 games, taking out the impact of injuries.Gap – the difference between the performance justified 82 game salary and the actualBy this method, the list of most underpaid players in the league is headed by Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks. If performance alone determined player salaries, Smith would have earned in excess of ten million dollars this past season, closer to twelve million had he appeared in all 82 Hawks games. He’s a steal at $1.5 million. Note that Lebron James big new contract doesn’t kick in until next year when he will earn $12.5 million. Even at that level LBJ is still a bargain. If nothing else, this list proves yet again the value of drafting well and making hay while players are still on their rookie contracts. On the other end of the scale are some familiar faces. By a substantial margin, Shaquille O’Neal was the most overpaid player in the NBA last season, out-earning his production on the court by well over fifteen million dollars. Even if we control for the forty-two games Shaq missed due to injury and general malaise, he is still the most overpaid NBA player. Only twenty-one other players made more money ($15 million plus) than Shaq stole. No one last year in the league was worth twenty million. Across the entire list, only Yao Ming performed at a level sufficient to justify his salary had he managed to drag his fragile butt out onto the court for the full season. If he had played 82 games, at the level which he played in 48, Yao would have earned every penny of his $12.5 million. Closer to home, Rasheed heads the Pistons’ list this year of most overpaid / under-performing players. For Sheed you have to ask if the intangibles he brings are worth nearly a third of his twelve million dollar salary. For me, yes to a -15% gap, maybe a -20% one, but a -31% gap is too much. Sheed brings a lot to the court that the boxscore doesn’t show, but not $3.6 million worth. Also on the under-performing end are Mohammed, Davis, and Hamilton. Sitting Mohammed and Davis drops their value to the team substantially. Had both played a full season their salaries would have been within 20% of their production levels. If Mohammed plays he’s worth the five mil. If he doesn’t, he’s too expensive for insurance. Davis however was worth his salary had he played, but wasn’t too expensive for insurance. Rip has a fair salary within 20% of his actual. You’d like to see a positive gap there, but he’s at least in the range. On the over-performing end are Prince, McDyess, Murray, Maxiell, Billups, Delfino, and Webber, though Webber, playing at a prorated veteran’s minimum, would have been hard pressed not to earn his salary. Fair value for Webber would have been between six and seven million dollars. Overall, a quick look says that the Pistons did a good job with salaries this past season. In total they paid out nearly $58 million and got back over $62 million of production. However, if you take Webber out of the mix, or pay him something anywhere close to what he had been making, the numbers shift the other way. $58 million in salaries only produced $55.5 million of value without Webber. Time for some folks to step up. This is an article written by forum member, dba (aka the stat sprocket).