Head to Head: Best Value in the NBA?

Who is the best value in the NBA? Eric Pincus, Tommy Beer and Jesse Blancarte discuss.

Basketball Insiders profile picture
Sports Editor
We sometimes use affiliate links in our content, when clicking on those we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you. By using this website you agree to our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

Who is the best value in the NBA? We asked our experts Eric Pincus, Tommy Beer and Jesse Blancarte to share their thoughts in this week’s Head to Head.

Draymond Green

The Golden State Warriors (26-5) have the best record in the NBA, certainly because of star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but minimum salaried forward Draymond Green should not be overlooked.

Green may be the best valued player in the NBA, earning just $915,000 this season.  Only Ognjen Kuzmic and Justin Holiday make less on the Warriors, yet Green is a double-figure scorer.

While 6-foot-7 is a bit undersized for power forward, Green uses his strength and mobility to make a liability a strength.  He’s averaging eight rebounds, along with roughly one and a half blocks and steals a game.  Green has also added enough of a three-point shot to be an outside threat.

Meanwhile, David Lee, making $15 million this season, is coming off the bench behind Green.

Green is versatile enough as a defender to stick Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, as well as Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

Arguably the Warriors’ third-best player, Green will earn a higher dollar next season when he’ll be a restricted free agent.  In the meantime, there’s no single player in the league so vital to his team’s success earning the minimum.

– Eric Pincus


Anthony Davis

$5,607,240 – That’s how much the New Orleans Pelicans are paying Anthony Davis to play basketball this season.

Make no mistake, $5.6 million is an immense amount of money. However, relatively speaking, that’s an incredible value for the Pelicans. When you consider the fact that Davis has been arguably the NBA’s best all-around player this season, it’s an outright steal.

Just how effective and efficient has Davis been this season? Consider this: Davis is currently averaging more points than Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant, more rebounds than Kevin Love and Joakim Noah, more steals than Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving, and more blocks than every player in the NBA.

In addition, Davis is on pace to become first player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1.5 steals, while also shooting above 80 percent from the free-throw stripe.

Now, consider this: Davis is making $17.8 million dollars less than Amar’e Stoudemire this season… He’s earning nearly $10 million less than Eric Gordon… Even Andrea Bargnani is making more than twice as much as Davis.

Davis will get paid max money the minute he is eligible to make it. However, while he is still locked into his rookie contract, the value return on Davis’ contract is astonishing. And, amazingly, Davis still has two years left on his rookie pact. Thus, Davis will very likely hold down the “Best Value Contact in the NBA” crown through the year 2017.

In fact, there is a decent chance that Davis captures at least one MVP trophy while playing out that rookie contract.

There seems to be no ceiling on Davis’ potential due to his freakish combination of talent and athleticism, however, there is a cap on rookie-scale contracts in the NBA, and that’s why his contract returns the best value in the league.

– Tommy Beer


Stephen Curry

Rookie-scale contracts are often the best value contracts in the NBA. Players like Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green are providing top production at a bargain price. But each one of these players will soon receive a multi-year, max (or near max) contract (except Green who may receive something close to $8-$10 million per season).

These rookie deals are bargains for several seasons. However, locking up a star for several seasons on a bargain deal for their first major contract is arguably even more valuable. Stephen Curry struggled with recurring ankle injuries early in his career. In May 2011, Curry had surgery on his right ankle to repair ligament damage he suffered during the 2010-11 season. He then only managed to play in 26 of 66 games in the 2011-12 season due to multiple ankle injuries throughout the season and eventually had another surgery in March, 2012.

Curry then signed a four-year, $44 million extension on October 31, 2012. Curry’s ankle injuries were such a big concern that he admitted that the team had “to protect themselves a little bit” in structuring the deal. In fact, were it not for Ty Lawson landing a four-year $48 million extension with the Denver Nuggets, Curry could have ultimately signed a deal that started at $8 million a season. Because of this, the Warriors have Curry locked in until the 2016-17 season. Here’s how his deal looks going forward:

2014-15 – $10,629,213
2015-16 – $11,370,786
2016-17 – $12,112,359

This is a huge deal because it has provided the Warriors with the flexibility to acquire and retain key players like Klay Thompson (signed a near-max extension earlier this season), Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut.

Next, consider that Curry is having an MVP-caliber season. He is number one in the league in Wins Above Replacement (6.36), first in real plus-minus (7.45), fifth in PER (26.92), first in the league in steals per game (2.1) and is leading the Warriors to a league best 26-5 record with a very impressive net rating of 12.1. Curry is doing all of this while comparable players like Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and other top players are earning close to, or more than, $20 million per season.

There are other top point guards like Kyle Lowry and Ty Lawson that are playing on team-friendly contracts as well, but neither is in the elite tier that Curry is. As mentioned above, rookie scale contracts are often the best values in the NBA, especially when a team is fortunate enough to land a player like Davis, Leonard, Butler or Green. But to sign an MVP-caliber player to a team-friendly, long-term contract after his rookie deal expires is arguably more valuable as we see with Curry and his league-leading Warriors.

The Warriors gambled on Curry overcoming his ankle issues a few seasons ago and won big by locking up an MVP-caliber player below market value in his prime. That is why Curry is the best value in the NBA.

– Jesse Blancarte

The next evolution of basketball news, information and rumors.

Trending Now