NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary.

Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.)

If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz.

As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should produce a Wiggins Factor below 100, a rotation player with a rotation salary should be under 200, and ideally you want your superstar-level contracts below 200 as well but anything below 300 is “it’s a star-driven league, stars cost money.”

Anything over 400 is “you overpaid”, anything over 500 is a bad contract by any measure, anything in four digits (or more) is an atrocity.

And if the figure is negative, trade your guy for a bag of used basketballs and call someone up from the G-League.

On with the show with one of the most unusual payrolls we’ll see on a good team:

Denver Nuggets

Will Barton: $12.96M, 875.55
Malik Beasley: $2.73M, 49.73
Torrey Craig: $2.1M, 57.29
Jerami Grant: $9.35M, 95.41
Gary Harris: $17.84M, 563.71
Juan Hernangomez: $3.32M, 91.64
Nikola Jokic: $26.57M, 184.80
Paul Millsap: $30.5M, 408.71
Monte Morris: $1.59M, 21.04 (!)
Jamal Murray: $4.44M, 71.42
Mason Plumlee: $14.04M, 199.53
Jarred Vanderbilt: $1.42M, 2189.24

Look at all those great value contracts on the rookies and cheap veterans. Look at Jokic, a superstar with a sub-200 Wiggins Factor.

And then look at the awful contracts that Gary Harris and Will Barton have—especially Barton, who is savagely overpaid at $13 million.

The Nuggets are a good team with a lot of value on their roster—it’s hard to argue too hard about Millsap’s contract even if he’s probably a better value at half the price.

And how about Monte Morris? He’s now in third place (behind Pascal Siakam and Mitchell Robinson) for the best contract in the league.

But man, those horrendous contracts for Murray and Barton. Yikes.

Portland Trail Blazers

Kent Bazemore: $19.27M, 1,202.82 (!!)
Zach Collins: $4.24M, 118.34
Mario Hezonja: $1.74M, -53.11
Rodney Hood: $6M, 114.98
Skal Labissiere: $2.34M, 496.24
Damian Lillard: $29.8M, 201.61
CJ McCollum: $27.56M, 400.65
Jusuf Nurkic: $12M, 126.60
Anfernee Simons: $2.15M, 3,000.85 (!!)
Anthony Tolliver: $2.56M, 121.98
Gary Trent Jr.: $1.42M, -4,632.42 (!!!)
Hassan Whiteside: $27.09M, 260.39

Surprisingly, Whiteside’s contract isn’t complete garbage, although he does get a boost to his effective WS/48 in my formula from going to a bad team to a good team. In Miami, his Wiggins Factor would be closer to 400—overpaid but not grotesquely so.

Speaking of overpaid, McCollum’s paid like Lillard despite producing about half the wins. He’s got that Klay Thompson-like ability to use coattail riding to enrich himself (we’ll get there when we get to Golden State on Saturday. Stay tuned.)

As for Hezonja, here’s a piece of free advice for NBA front office executives: If a guy puts up negative Win Shares, even if it’s on the Knicks, do not give him money to play basketball for you. It’s not going to be worth it.

But then again, $1.74M is garbage time money, so there’s that.

And Bazemore…even with a huge boost going from a 29-win team to a 53-win team, he’s still a train wreck and a complete waste of nearly $20 million. Just a terrible, embarrassingly bad free agent signing that is going to hurt the Blazers big time.

Utah Jazz

Bojan Bogdanovic: $17M, 198.14
Tony Bradley: $1.96M, 1,648.41
Mike Conley: $32.51M, 219.88
Ed Davis: $4.77M, 57.10
Dante Exum: $9.6M, 824.72 (!)
Rudy Gobert: $25.01M, 142.53
Jeff Green: $2.56M, 37.05
Joe Ingles: $11.95M, 162.09
Donovan Mitchell: $3.64M, 59.94
Emmanuel Mudiay: $1.74M, 63.00
Georges Niang: $1.65M, 102.33
Royce O’Neale: $1.62M, 40.59

The Jazz have a ton of dirt cheap contracts providing great value and one expensive contract (Gobert) providing amazing value.

As a Pacers fan, it makes my blood boil seeing Bogdanovic at a very reasonable price on another team. Indiana should’ve found a way to slot him in at $17 million to stay with the squad.

And Mitchell…man, he’s going to be disastrously overpaid once he hits restricted free agency at the rate he’s going. Pop his salary up to $25 million like Gobert’s making and his 59.94 (excellent) Wiggins Factor soars over 300. At present, he’s not worth more than $11 million in terms of the wins he provides. But that’s just a further point in favor of the value of rookie contracts, unparalleled in any sport other than pro football.

As for Exum, whoever decided to pay him $9.6 million is a fool.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Steven Adams: $25.84M, 233.78
Deonte Burton: $1.42M, 862.52
Hamidou Diallo: $1.42M, 154.00
Terrance Ferguson: $2.48M, 72.21
Danilo Gallinari: $22.62M, 221.77
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: $3.95M, 94.67
Mike Muscala: $2.03M, 64.87
Abdel Nader: $1.62M, 148.19
Nerlens Noel: $2.03M, 38.25
Chris Paul: $38.51M, 513.30
Dennis Schroder: $15.5M, 439.41

Is Steven Adams the most underrated player in the NBA? He just plain racks up Win Shares and even at almost $26 million in salary, puts up a Wiggins Factor on par with superstar-level players.

Meanwhile, if you think the 513.30 Chris Paul’s putting up now is bad, wait until he’s making more money for less production in a couple of years. This is not going to end well for the Thunder.

Schroder, meanwhile, is just a guy who isn’t good. He’s stepping into Russell Westbrook‘s role…and it’s going to be a nightmare.

The Thunder have a lot of great value at the low end of their payroll, but their star power is a guy who shouldn’t be the primary scorer (Adams) and a couple of colossal wastes of money.

Oh well…it was a heck of a run once upon a time.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Keita Bates-Diop: $1.42M, 347.24
Robert Covington: $11.3M, 426.92
Gorgui Dieng: $16.23M, 469.40
Treveon Graham: $1.65M, 321.12
Jake Layman: $3.65M, 143.59
Shabazz Napier: $1.85M, 88.18
Josh Okogie: $2.53M, 166.70
Jeff Teague: $19M, 696.05
Karl-Anthony Towns: $27.25M, 213.93
Noah Vonleh: $2M, 23.99 (!)
Tyrone Wallace: $1.59M, 171.90
Andrew Wiggins: $27.27M, 3517.33 (!!!)

Dear gods, Wiggins. The crap gift that keeps on stinking.

Noah Vonleh is an astounding value at $2 million. That’s another contender for best contract in the league.

And as for poor KAT, just wait until he becomes the next Anthony Davis forcing himself off a bad team via a trade and telling his franchise’s incompetent front office that they can trade him now or get nothing back when he walks in free agency.

The T-Wolves have one of the worst front offices in the league. A look at their atrocious ratio of dollars spent to wins generated, and the idiot that gave a max extension to an objectively awful player who dogs it through games…the math agrees with the eye test. This franchise needs a complete overhaul. And maybe a move to Seattle.

COMING FRIDAY: The Southwest Division.