Players are naturally paid in dollars, but their salary represents a percentage of each team’s overall payroll.
Some teams overspend on non-productive players; others find heavy contributors who earn just a small fraction of the franchise’s total investment.
The NBA’s current salary cap is $70 million, but most teams have climbed above that line. Next season’s cap projects to jump to at least $90 million. Teams will be required to spend at least 90 percent of that number ($82 million).
With that leap, players already under contract will take up a smaller percentage of the team.
The relative value of good players, under long-term contract — especially on rookie deals — skyrockets with the impending inflation. The top overall pick in the 2016-17 NBA Draft will take up roughly 6.6 percent of his team’s salary.
Productive, inexpensive players won’t stay cheap for long as they reach free agency; draft picks are locked in at an economic rate for their first four seasons.
The following percentages jump out as positives or negatives around the league:
The Atlanta Hawks have invested 42.5 percent of their team salary in All-Stars Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Kent Bazemore takes up just two percent.
Almost a quarter (24.4 percent) of the Boston Celtics’ money is going to David Lee, who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks. All-Star Isaiah Thomas earns just nine percent of the team’s salary.
Joe Johnson, now with the Miami HEAT, still takes up 27.3 percent of the Brooklyn Nets’ payroll. Three current starters (Bojan Bogdanovic, Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan) combine for just 7.3 percent, with Brook Lopez the highest active Net at 24.6 percent.
The Charlotte Hornets badly miss defensive forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8.1 percent of salary), although the team is still climbing in the Eastern Conference standings.
Pau Gasol joined the Chicago Bulls at a discounted rate, currently at 8.6 percent of payroll. The trio of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and injured Joakim Noah represent 57.3 percent of Chicago’s investment.
LeBron James is one of the highest-paid players in the league, but with the Cleveland Cavaliers $107 million total payroll (not including luxury taxes), he takes up just 21.5 percent of the total.
The Wesley Matthews/Chandler Parsons pairing is at 43.5 percent of the Dallas Mavericks’ expenditure, while long-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki took a discounted 11.4 percent to help the team spend this past summer.
Wilson Chandler, who has missed the entire season with a hip injury, takes up 14.6 percent of the Denver Nuggets’ total salary. Will Barton has proven to a be a steal at just five percent.
Andre Drummond is one of the top bang-for-the-buck players in the NBA, earning just 4.3 percent of the Detroit Pistons’ payroll. Newcomer Tobias Harris, recently acquired from the Orlando Magic, takes up 20.9 percent.
Stephen Curry is arguably the best player in the league over the last two seasons. The Golden State Warriors have just 11.9 percent spent on the reigning MVP. Overall, 69.6 percent of the team’s salary goes to Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Curry.
The Houston Rockets have 43.1 percent invested in Dwight Howard and James Harden, along with 13.8 percent spent on the failed Ty Lawson experiment (now with the Indiana Pacers).
Almost half of the Pacers’ salary is spent on Paul George, Monta Ellis and George Hill — about a quarter of that is to George (23.7 percent).
The Los Angeles Clippers’ big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan earn 62.5 percent of the franchise’s salary.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers’ youthful trio of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle are at just 12.5 percent of team salary. Clarkson is the real steal at just 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, the Kobe Bryant farewell tour is taking up 34.5 percent of the Lakers’ payroll. Roy Hibbert is another big chunk at 21.5 percent.
The Memphis Grizzlies are severely handicapped this year with 23.7 percent of their payroll invested in an injured Marc Gasol (foot).
Hassan Whiteside is another steal at just 1.2 percent of payroll, while the HEAT are spending 79.4 percent on the foursome of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng.
The Milwaukee Bucks just lost 14.7 percent of their investment this season with O.J. Mayo (ankle) and Michael Carter-Williams (knee) both lost for the season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have 29 percent of their money invested in Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett, 17.9 percent in Ricky Rubio and 15.7 percent in players no longer with the team. Meanwhile, youngsters Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine take up 19.2 percent.
Anthony Davis may be signed to a massive contract extension, but currently he’s earning jut 8.7 percent of the New Orleans Pelicans’ payroll. Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon, both injured for most of the season, are taking up a combined 32.4 percent.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the highest paid players in the league at 31 percent of the New York Knicks’ payroll.
The Oklahoma City Thunder spend 39.5 percent on their dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and 70.1 percent on the foursome with Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter.
Slam-dunk runner up Aaron Gordon earns 6.6 percent of the Orlando Magic’ payroll.
Almost half (46.4 percent) of what the Philadelphia 76ers are spending this season is going to players not even on the team’s roster like JaVale McGee and Gerald Wallace.
A major reason for the Phoenix Suns’ demise this season is 39.6 percent of payroll to injured players (Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and T.J. Warren). Knight is finally returning to action, but the damage is done.
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the league’s great bargains in C.J. McCollum (four percent) — and he’s still under contract next season. Damian Lillard and McCollum at 10.8 percent combined may be the most productive duo in the league for the money. Meanwhile, the Blazers have 22.7 percent invested in cut players like Anderson Varejao and Mike Miller.
The Sacramento Kings have a much higher percentage invested in two players, (38.9 percent to DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay), but without the same level of success as the Blazers.
David West is earning just 1.4 percent of what the San Antonio Spurs are paying this season. Tim Duncan helped the team put it all together by taking just 6.1 percent this past summer. The tandem of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge earn 41.6 percent.
The Toronto Raptors have a pair of All-Stars at 30.5 percent of salary (DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry). Currently-injured forward DeMarre Carroll is the team’s highest paid player (18.8 percent).
The Utah Jazz are still on the playoff bubble in the Western Conference, despite a 20.4 percent investment in injured players Dante Exum and Alec Burks.
Finally, the Washington Wizards are heavily invested (47.6 percent) in the trio of John Wall, Marcin Gortat and Nene. Bradley Beal earns just 6.8 percent of team salary, just a hair above waived forward Martell Webster’s 6.7 percent.
Note: Minimum salaries for experienced veterans are factored in at the discounted rate of $947,000 or 1.4 percent of the current salary cap.
Is LeBron Enough For Cavs To Get Through The East?
Cleveland’s offense has struggled through the first two games of the playoffs. Can the four-time MVP consistently bail them out? Spencer Davies writes.
After a less-than-encouraging series opener versus the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James responded emphatically and led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a bounce back 100-97 victory to even things up at one game apiece.
Scoring the first 13 points of the game itself, The King was a one-man wrecking crew out of the gate and carried that momentum throughout all four quarters of Game 2. His 46 points were James’ second-highest scoring mark between the regular season and the playoffs. In addition, he shot above 70 percent from the field for the sixth time this year.
The four-time MVP pulled down 12 rebounds total, and but all but one of those boards were defensive—the most he’s had since Saint Patrick’s Day in Chicago a month ago.
What James did was another classic instance where LeBron reminds us that through all the injuries, drama, and on-court issues, whatever team he’s on always has a chance to go all the way. But having said all of that—can the Cavaliers realistically depend on that kind of spectacular effort for the rest of the postseason? It’s a fair question.
Kevin Love is a solid secondary go-to guy, but he’s struggled to find his rhythm in the first two games. He’s done a solid job defensively between both, but he’s getting banged up and is dealing with knocked knees and a reported torn thumb ligament in the same hand he broke earlier in the season.
Love has admitted that he’d like more post touches instead of strictly hanging out on the perimeter, but it’s on him to demand the ball more and he knows it. But finding that flow can be challenging when James has it going and is in all-out attack mode.
Kyle Korver came to the rescue for Cleveland as the only shooter that consistently converted on open looks. Outside of those three, and maybe J.R. Smith, really, there hasn’t been a tangible threat that’s a part of the offense during this series.
We all pondered whether or not the “new guys” would be able to step up when their respective numbers were called. So far, that hasn’t been the case for the most part.
Jordan Clarkson looks rushed with tunnel vision. Rodney Hood has had good body language out there, but seems reluctant to shoot off dribble hand-offs and is second-guessing what he wants to do. The hustle and effort from Larry Nance Jr. is obvious, but he’s also a good bet to get into foul trouble. Plus, he’s had some struggles on an island against Pacer guards.
As for George Hill, the good news is the impact on the floor just based on his mere presence on both ends (game-high +16 on Wednesday), but he hasn’t really done any scoring and fouled out of Game 2.
Maybe these things change on the road, who knows. But those four, the rest of the rotation, absolutely have to step up in order for the Cavaliers to win this series and fend off this hungry Indiana group, which brings us to another point.
Let’s not forget, the offensive issues aren’t simply because of themselves. After all, the Cavs were a team that had little trouble scoring the basketball in the regular season, so give a ton of credit to the Pacers’ scheme and McMillan’s teachings to play hard-nosed.
Unlike many teams in the league, the strategy for them is to pressure the ball and avoid switches as much as possible on screens. The more they go over the pick and stick on their assignments, the better chance they have of forcing a bad shot or a turnover. That’s what happened in Game 1 and in the majority of the second half of Game 2.
Cleveland has also somewhat surprisingly brought the fight on defense as well. In the first two contests of the series, they’ve allowed under 100 points. Lue’s said multiple times that they’re willing to give up the interior buckets in order to secure the outside, and it’s worked. It doesn’t seem smart when there’s a yellow-colored layup line going on at times, but it certainly paid off by only allowing 34 percent of Indiana’s threes to go down.
Still, looking ahead to what the Cavaliers can do in the playoffs as a whole, it doesn’t bode well. They’re not only locked in a tug-of-war with Indiana, but if they get past them, they could have a Toronto Raptors group chomping at the bit for revenge.
If they’re having this much trouble in the first round, what should make us believe they can barrel through the Eastern Conference as they’ve done in the past?
It’s not quite as obvious or as bad as Cleveland’s 2007 version of James and the rest, but it feels eerily similar for as much as he’s put the team on his back so far. The organization better hope improvement comes fast from his supporting cast, or else it could be a longer summer than they’d hoped for.
2017-18 NBA Report Card: Third-Year Players
Among the third-year players a few budding superstars have emerged, along with some role players who are helping their teams in the 2017-18 NBA Playoffs.
The 2015 NBA Draft has provided the league with a limited quantity of talent so far. After Terry Rozier (at 16th), it’s unlikely that anyone remaining has All-Star potential. Despite the lack of depth, the highest draft slot traded was at number 15, when the Atlanta Hawks moved down to enable the Washington Wizards to select Kelly Oubre Jr.
But placing a definitive “boom” or “bust” label on these athletes might be premature as the rookie contract is standardized at four seasons with an option for a fifth. If their employers are given a fourth year to decide whether a draftee is worth keeping, it seems reasonable to earmark the NBA Juniors’ progress for now and see how they’ve fared after next season’s campaign before making their letter grades official.
The Top Dogs
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: Given the dearth of premier choices and their glaring need up front, it’s hard to envision the T-Wolves drafting anyone but KAT if they had to do it again. Although his scoring average is down from last season (21.3 vs. 25.1 PPG), that trend could be explained by the addition of Jimmy Butler and the team’s deliberate pace (24th out of 30 teams).
To his credit, Towns had career highs in three-point percentage (42.1 percent) and free throws (85.8 percent), while finishing second overall in offensive rating (126.7). His continued improvement in these areas could explain why the Timberwolves ended their 14-year playoff drought.
Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets: Although he was a 2014 draft pick, Jokić’s NBA debut was delayed due to his last year of commitment to the Adriatic League. His productivity as a rookie was limited by both foul trouble and a logjam at the center position, but he still managed 10.0 PPG.
With Joffrey Lauvergne and Jusuf Nurkic off the depth chart, Jokić became the clear-cut starter this season and rewarded Denver’s confidence by averaging 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. And by chipping in 6.1 APG, he provides rare value as a center with triple-double potential.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks: Although he has never played a full season since joining the league, Porzingis has provided enough evidence that he can be a force when healthy. Before his junior campaign was derailed, the Latvian was enjoying career highs of 22.7 PPG and 39.5 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Unfortunately, the Knicks haven’t provided much support at point guard to help with Porzingis’ development. Trey Burke looked impressive down the stretch in Zinger’s absence, but that was in a score-first capacity. Meanwhile, both Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay have underwhelmed. On the plus side, Porzingis’ outside ability paired nicely in the frontcourt with Enes Kanter, who prefers to bully his way underneath.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: Like Porzingis, Booker’s third year in the NBA was cut short by injuries, but that didn’t stop him from achieving career highs in points (24.9 per game), assists (4.7) and three-pointers (38.3 percent) on an otherwise moribund Suns team. Indeed, cracking the 40-point barrier three times in 54 contests was an achievement in and of itself.
While his short-term prospects would’ve been far better on a team like the Philadelphia Sixers (who might have taken him instead of Jahlil Okafor in a re-draft), Booker can still become a franchise cornerstone for the Suns if they are able to build around a young core that also includes T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: Despite an inconsistent freshman season at Texas, Turner has become a stabilizing influence at center for the Pacers, whose blueprint consists of surrounding a go-to scorer with role players. While he hasn’t shown drastic improvement in any particular area, he has produced double-digit PPG averages all three years as a pro.
Although Turner’s shot-blocking ability fuels his reputation as a defensive maven, the reality is his 104.8 defensive rating (which is just OK) was skewed by his 110.9 d-rating in losses (it was 100.8 in wins). In order to merit consideration for the NBA’s all-defensive team, he will need to bridge the gap in this discrepancy and impact his team’s ability to win more games in the process.
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: Following their respective trades, Russell has fared better in the Big Apple than his 2015 lottery counterpart Emmanuel Mudiay, as the Los Angeles Lakers were forced to cut bait to draft Lonzo Ball. While Ball has shown promise as a rookie, the Lakers’ perception of Russell may have been premature, as the former Buckeye has stabilized a Nets backcourt that had been characterized more by athleticism than consistency.
Despite missing a significant stretch of mid-season games, Russell provided similar numbers for Brooklyn to that of his sophomore season; but without a pick until number 29 in the upcoming NBA Draft, the Nets will have to bank on improved production from DLo and his raw teammates to contend for the eight-seed in the East.
Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: Injuries have paved the way for Rozier to showcase his talent, most recently with a 23-point, 8-assist effort in game two against the Milwaukee Bucks. But Rozier was already making headlines as a fill-in for Kyrie Irving whenever he was injured. Now that the starting point guard reins have been handed to the former mid-round pick, he has become one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2017-18 NBA season.
The biggest impediment to Rozier’s success might be the regression to limited playing time once Irving returns. While the Celtics could “sell high” and trade Rozier on the basis of his recent performances, they may opt to retain him as insurance while he is still cap-friendly.
Best of the Rest
Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers: Following the trade deadline, Nance has provided a spark for a Cavs frontcourt that has been bereft of viable options aside from Kevin Love.
Josh Richardson, Miami HEAT: A jack-of-all-trades at the small forward position, Richardson has evolved into a three-and-D player that has meshed well with the HEAT’s shut-down focus.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: Thrust into the starting center role after the trade of DeMarcus Cousins, WCS has provided serviceable (albeit unspectacular) play as the next man up.
Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors: A key contributor for the East’s top seed, Wright was instrumental in the Raptors’ game one victory over the Washington Wizards with 18 points off the bench.
Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls: The former Razorback has flashed double-double potential, but playing time at his true position (power forward) has been limited by the emergence of rookie Lauri Markkanen.
NBA Daily: Looking At The 2018 Draft Class By Tiers
The NBA Draft is a hard thing to predict, especially when it comes to draft order and individual team needs, Basketball Insiders publisher Steve Kyler takes a look at how this draft looks in tiers.
Looking At The 2018 Draft In Tiers
While Mock Drafts are an easy way to look at how the NBA Draft might play out, what they do no do is give a sense of what a specific player might be as a player at the next level. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at how some of the notable NBA draft prospects project.
It’s important to point out that situation and circumstance often impact how a player develops, even more so than almost any other variable.
So while the goal here is to give a sense of how some NBA teams and insiders see a draft prospect’s likely potential, it is by no means meant to suggest that a player can’t break out of his projection and become more or sometimes less than his he was thought to be.
Every draft class has examples of players projected to be one thing that turns out to be something else entirely, so these projections are not meant to be some kind of final empirical judgment or to imply a specific draft position, as each team may value prospects differently.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at the 2018 NBA Draft in Tiers.
The Potential Future All-Stars
DeAndre Ayton – Arizona – C – 7’0″ – 245 lbs – 20 yrs
Luka Doncic – Real Madrid – SG – 6’7″ – 218 lbs – 19 yrs
Michael Porter Jr – Missouri – SF/PF – 6’10” – 216 lbs – 20 yrs
Maybe Stars, But Likely High-Level Starters
Jaren Jackson Jr. – Michigan State – PF – 6’10” – 225 lbs – 19 yrs
Marvin Bagley III – Duke – PF – 6’11” – 220 lbs – 19 yrs
Wendell Carter – Duke – PF – 6’10” – 257 lbs – 19 yrs
Mohamed Bamba – Texas – C – 7’0″ – 216 lbs – 20 yrs
Collin Sexton – Alabama – PG – 6’2″ – 184 lbs – 19 yrs
Mikal Bridges – Villanova – SG/SF – 6’7″ – 210 lbs – 22 yrs
Robert Williams – Texas A&M – C – 6’9″ – 235 lbs – 21 yrs
Miles Bridges – Michigan State – SF/PF – 6’7″ – 230 lbs – 20 yrs
Dzanan Musa – Cedevita – SF – 6′ 9″ – 195 lbs – 19 yrs
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Kentucky – SG – 6′ 6″ – 181 lbs – 20 yrs
Trae Young – Oklahoma – PG – 6’2″ – 180 lbs – 20 yrs
Maybe Starters, But Surely Rotation Players
Kevin Knox – Kentucky – SF – 6’9″ – 206 lbs – 19 yrs
Troy Brown – Oregon – SG – 6’6″ – 210 lbs – 19 yrs
Khyri Thomas – Creighton – SG – 6′ 3″ – 210 lbs – 22 yrs
Zhaire Smith – Texas Tech – SG – 6′ 5″ – 195 lbs – 19 yrs
Rodions Kurucs – FC Barcelona B – SF – 6′ 9″ – 220 lbs – 20 yrs
Aaron Holiday – UCLA – PG – 6′ 1″ – 185 lbs – 22 yrs
Jacob Evans – Cincinnati – SF – 6′ 6″ – 210 lbs – 21 yrs
De’Anthony Melton – USC – PG – 6’4″ – 190 lbs – 20 yrs
The Swing For The Fence Prospects – AKA Boom-Or-Bust
Lonnie Walker – Miami – SG – 6’4″ – 206 lbs – 20 yrs
Mitchell Robinson – Chalmette HS – C – 7′ 0″ – 223 lbs – 20 yrs
Anfernee Simons – IMG Academy – SG – 6′ 5″ – 177 lbs – 19 yrs
Jontay Porter – Missouri – C – 6′ 11″ – 240 lbs – 19 yrs
Lindell Wigginton – Iowa State – PG – 6′ 2″ – 185 lbs – 20 yrs
Bruce Brown – Miami – SG – 6’5″ – 191 lbs – 22 yrs
Isaac Bonga – Skyliners (Germany) – SF/SG – 6’9″ – 203 lbs – 19 yrs
Hamidou Diallo – Kentucky – SG – 6’5″ – 197 lbs – 20 yrs
Players not listed are simply draft prospects that could be drafted, but don’t project clearly into any of these tiers.
If you are looking for a specific player, check out the Basketball Insiders Top 100 Prospects list, this listing is updated weekly.
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