The ink was not yet dry, or in some cases, even out of the pen, before some labeled Nicolas Batum as "overpaid"
after he signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Trail Blazers this summer. That notion has softened quite a bit
, as Batum has put together a career-year through the first part of the 2012-13 season.
In fact, according to Kevin Pelton at ESPN.com
, Batum is now actually underpaid for his production, sort of. I'll let Kevin explain ...
Say you're the GM of a team with cap space this summer. How much will
you have to pay to add a win to next season's total? Well, some players
are better values than others, but on average teams paid about $1.5
million above the minimum salary for each WARP the previous season
during free agency last summer. In 2011 after the lockout, that figure
was slightly higher -- nearly $1.8 million. Combining the two markets
gives a value of $1.6 million for each additional win.
Based on that figure and WARP projections for the full 2012-13 season,
many players in the league (38 in all) are worth more than the lowest
max level of $13.7 million. Let's focus instead on players worth more
than $16.4 million, since that is now the maximum amount for many star
players. That yields a group of 19 players -- basically somewhere
between the number of players on All-NBA teams (15) and on the All-Star
teams (24). They can further be divided into a few categories.
Make sense? Pelton then goes on to list all the players whose production, in terms of WARP, make them worth the NBA "max" contract (which is variable, as Pelton notes) or more. The list is full of names you would expect, such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, who are all on "max" contracts.
But then there are guys like Batum, who, along with New Orleans' Ryan Anderson, makes well below the "max" despite his WARP suggesting otherwise.
Of the 19 players valued at more than the max, 14 are All-Stars. Three others (Curry, Gasol and Pierce) were prominent omissions. That leaves two oddball players, both of whom rate better by WARP than other all-in-one metrics. Anderson and Batum have in common that they both shoot a lot of 3s (Anderson leads the NBA in attempts and Batum is fourth), which WARP rewards because of the value of floor spacing. Both are enjoying strong seasons, and Anderson in particular was a great buy for the Hornets last summer (he'll make $34 million over the next four years, slightly less than Jeff Green), but they're not really max guys.
Guys like Batum and Anderson might not be "max" players (I wouldn't consider them as such), but, as Pelton notes, they're certainly not overpaid.