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Who are the most underpaid players in the NBA?

Jul 6, 2011, 8:12 AM EDT

Kevin Love Getty Images

Last night we brought you the most overpaid players in the NBA, at least according to the Wages of Wins blog.

But who are the best values? Who are the most underpaid according to the Wages of Wins blog? Not necessarily who you think.

Often it can be good player still on a rookie deal. But this list shows that an elite player can be a good value at any price.

First, a reminder how Wages of Wins — the blog of the book by the same name — came to this list: First they figured the cost of an NBA win ($1.58 million, which is total salary paid by the league divided by wins) then used their “wins produced” stat to figure out how much players contributed to a team’s wins.

Here are the top three:

1. Kevin Love (Minnesota). Owners love to tell you about the explosion of crazy expensive contracts, but if they draft a very good player they get years of them at a bargain of a price. The rookie is a steal for the owners if they get a good player. See Love, who averaged 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per game and did it for $3.6 million. Of course, his team only had 17 wins, so you can nit pick how many wins he really produced, but he put up good numbers for a low price.

2. Dwight Howard (Orlando). Yes, Howard made $16.6 million, but he anchored the defense and contributed 22.9 points and 14.1 rebounds per game. Orlando won 56 games with a team that at various points had Vince Carter and Hedo Turkoglu playing big roles. That’s thanks to Howard. Put simply, there are not many elite players in the NBA and when you get one they are worth the price.

3. LeBron James (Miami). The same as Howard — yes he makes $14.5 million but you get 24.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. You get a lot of wins for your money. Another point about LeBron (and Howard and other true elite players) — they generate more money in terms of ticket sales, sponsor money, television viewer then they are paid. These elite guys are values to the owners.

The rest of the top 10 are: Landry Fields (who made just $473,000 last season), Kris Humphries (who is now a free agent), Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Al Horford, Kevin Durant, and Dwyane Wade.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 6, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    I am shocked that LeBron appeared in a blog written by Kurt Helin. Kurt, I’m not sure if you are just trying to get hits or whether you are really that big of a LeBron fanboy. Answer me this, do you have a life size LeBron poster on the ceiling above your bed?

    • ac0117 - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      I’m as sick as everyone else of hearing about Lebron and the Heat, but look at their revenue generated after they got the big 3 and Lebron’s jersey sales. It is absurd how much money he made the heat

    • sknut - Jul 6, 2011 at 9:47 AM

      Kurt, didn’t write the list another website did and Kurt is reporting their findings.

  2. metalhead65 - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    sorry kurt but nobody making the amount of money that these guys are making is underpaid! and this is true of your boy in miami. all this list does is show who is earning the money they are getting paid. I know it is hard to fathom but they are getting paid a enormous amount of money to put up the numbers they do. are the owners supposed to feel bad that the guys they are paying millions are doing their job? they do not put those numbers then fans do not pay to see them play and the owners do not make money and can’t afford to pay them that much. sorry but nobody getting paid the amount that these players are making is underpaid. you should include how much they get in endorsements since they get that money from playing ball. can you say with a straight face that with the money he gets from nike alone that your boy is underpaid?

  3. hystoracle - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Looks like the League (NBA) feels they are ALL overpaid hence the Lockout.

  4. lucky5934 - Jul 6, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    “You get a lot of wins for your money.” ….. And a lot of drama, lack of heart, and ZERO Championships. In the end, it balances out.

  5. diablito0402 - Jul 6, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Heat heat heat also look at the revenue created when the 3 stooged got booted out of the finals. Also created sooo many smiles across the nation.

  6. themohel - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Derrick Rose was paid $5.5 last year. He was the MVP of the league and almost single-handedly carried the Bulls to the league’s best record and the Conference Finals. Yet not even in the top 10? The whole list loses credibility when such an obvious choice is absent.

  7. goforthanddie - Jul 6, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    leb is overpaid until he wins a ring. That’s why he went to Miami, that’s why Miami wanted him. He’s being paid to win a title.

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