NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part VI: Pacific Division

As we wrap up our look at NBA contracts, a few things—good and bad—about Wiggins Factor as a stat start to come through in the analysis.

In one case, it’s a sins-of-the-father argument…

It’s going to take the new front office awhile to take out the trash.

And in another case, it’s an example of Stewart’s Maxim: “It’s not funny anymore when it’s your guy.”

The stat’s not broken. Oladipo has all three components for a high Wiggins Factor. He’s paid over $20 million, he missed a ton of time, and his WS/48 (.097) simply wasn’t that good last season. You combine those three factors into a multiplicative formula, it’s like compound interest. You simply wouldn’t pay $20+ million for a guy who’s a 40-win player.

Is the stat reactive? Sure it is…most basketball stats are. I’m not trying to predict the future. I’m taking a stat known to correlate strongly with winning (Win Shares per 48 minutes, which I’ve tested on this site) and relating it to a value proposition (minute-weighted salary.)

Consider Oladipo in 2017-18; he made the same $21 million, but he was healthy all season, played 2,552 minutes, and logged .155 WS/48. Oladipo’s Wiggins Factor in 2017-18 was 208.96, an excellent figure for a All-Star.

He just didn’t play the minutes (and was clearly playing hurt for a lot of the time he was out there.)

You’ll see this when we get through this article (spoiler alert: LeBron fans are going to have a lot to yell at me about.)

As always, salary slots affect what’s “good”. Rookie deals, veteran minimums, and midlevel exceptions should ideally be below 100. Rotation salaries should be below 200. And All-Star/superstar Wiggins Factors should be below 300 and ideally more like below 250.

Anything over 400 is overpaid; anything over 500 is definitely a bad contract (with caveats like that Oladipo example). And anything in four figures or negative is “this guy is atrocious, waive or trade him!”

On with the show:

Golden State Warriors

Alec Burks: $2.32M, 70.13
Willie Cauley-Stein: $2.18M, 18.17
Stephen Curry: $40.23M, 341.36
Jacob Evans: $1.93M, -1117.13
Draymond Green: $18.54M, 353.38
Kevon Looney: $4.63M, 63.43
Alfonzo McKinnie: $1.59M, 62.40
Glenn Robinson III: $1.88M, 161.58
D’Angelo Russell: $27.29M, 333.31
Klay Thompson: $32.74M, 511.49 (!)

Can we stop pretending Klay is a max-contract value? His claim to fame is being half of a duo whose productive value comes from the other guy. He’s an overrated defender (just look at his string of terrible defensive advanced stats.) And now he’s being paid more money than Anthony Davis. The Warriors have overpaid across the board for top tier talent, and it’s hurt their depth; at least this time they’ve got some real value in Looney and McKinnie on those low-end deals.

Steph is headed for the downside of his career and it’s already starting to reflect in his Wiggins Factor, but then again, he’s also at only 8.5 times his actual salary, which is a solid ratio.

And Willie Cauley-Stein…man, talk about an amazing value. You get a guy like that for just over $2 million, you’ve got yourself a bargain, and the numbers absolutely reflect that. That is the steal of the league right there and the lowest Wiggins Factor in the entire NBA.

And let’s not talk about Russell until he proves something in a Western Conference playoff series.

Los Angeles Clippers

Patrick Beverley: $12.35M, 210.62
Paul George: $33.01M, 232.27
JaMychal Green: $4.77M, 108.86
Maurice Harkless: $11.51M, 310.10
Montrezl Harrell: $6M, 56.70
Kawhi Leonard: $32.74M, 340.76
Rodney McGruder: $4.63M, 161.91
Patrick Patterson: $2.33M, 169.90
Jerome Robinson: $3.57M, 3,659.25 (!!)
Landry Shamet: $2M, 47.95
Lou Williams: $8M, 128.45
Ivica Zubac: $6.48M, 144.47

Lots of great value here. PG13 is a genuine superstar at this point and the stats reflect it. Leonard takes a penalty first for missing time due to “load management” and then again for a kicker I put in the formula to try to adjust expected win shares from better teams to worse teams and vice versa, but a ratio below 11 mitigates the higher raw number.

Harrell is just a fantastic contract at $6 million, and Shamet is showing why he’s one of the hot second-year players to watch in the league after catching everyone’s attention as a rookie outside the top-heavy bunch that took All-Rookie and were drafted 1-5 last year.

As for Harkless, 310.10 isn’t bad, but I don’t like that $11.5 million salary. I can’t see him getting anything near that in his next contract.

Sacramento Kings

Trevor Ariza: $12.2M, 273.17
Marvin Bagley III: $8.56M, 195.46
Harrison Barnes: $18.97M, 391.03
Nemanja Bjelica: $6.83M, 123.24
Bogdan Bogdanovic: $8.53M, 257.37
Dewayne Dedmon: $13.33M, 203.76
Yogi Ferrell: $3M, 127.20
De’Aaron Fox: $6.39M, 93.19
Harry Giles: $2.58M, 221.14
Buddy Hield: $4.86M, 67.73
Richaun Holmes: $4.77M, 44.65
Cory Joseph: $12M, 347.88
Tyler Lydon: $1.62M, 1092.13 (!!)
Caleb Swanigan: $2.03M, -2,059.57 (!!!)

Let’s just say Swanigan’s career isn’t off to the best start, hm?

Then again, neither was Fox’s, and the Namesake put up a Wiggins Factor under 100 last season, joined in that endeavor by Hield and Holmes.

Except for Barnes, who at least isn’t ridiculously overpaid, just regular overpaid (imagine that 391.03 with a supermax as the multiplier), this is a very well put-together roster providing great value. Trouble is, it lacks star power, and that’s a sign that there’s more to life than just having good value contracts.

Los Angeles Lakers

Avery Bradley: $4.77M, 1322.06 (!)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: $8.09M, 164.71
Alex Caruso: $2.75M, 219.18
Quinn Cook: $3M, 209.48
DeMarcus Cousins: $3.5M, 182.29
Troy Daniels: $2.03M, 269.94
Anthony Davis: $27.09M, 208.12
Jared Dudley: $2.56M, 133.93
Danny Green: $14.63M, 318.23
LeBron James: $37.44M, 425.02 (!!)
Kyle Kuzma: $1.97M, 51.55
JaVale McGee: $4M, 55.10
Rajon Rondo: $2.56M, 156.60

Kuzma is proof that if you’re paid a small enough salary, even a mediocre player can look like a great contract.

LeBron, meanwhile, is another, smaller demonstration of the discussion about Oladipo above. Miss a third of the season when you’re making $37 million and it’s going to come back to bite the team that paid you that much money…as the 37-win Lakers, who were on the path to the playoffs when James got hurt against Golden State on Christmas 2018, can attest.

Davis, meanwhile, is a classic case of a superstar putting up superstar numbers for a surprisingly team-friendly contract of just $27.09 million this year. If he stays healthy, he’s got legit MVP potential in a literal sense.

But if LeBron finally breaks down for good? This will be a salary cap nightmare.

Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton: $9.56M, 134.66
Aron Baynes: $5.45M, 484.77
Devin Booker: $27.25M, 629.47
Mikal Bridges: $4.16M, 116.80
Jevon Carter: $1.42M, -16.73 (!)
Cheick Diallo: $1.68M, 91.56
Tyler Johnson: $19.25M, 1265.11 (!!)
Frank Kaminsky: $4.77M, 447.75
Elie Okobo: $1.42M, -157.52 (!!!)
Kelly Oubre Jr.: $15.63M, 757.95
Ricky Rubio: $16.19M, 929.54
Dario Saric: $3.48M, 162.95

Wow, the Suns have got some real stinker contracts on this team.

Rubio suffers a huge penalty to his expected Win Shares coming from a 50-win team to a 19-win team, but he wasn’t that good a value in Utah.

Oubre and Booker are…well, if they’re two of your best players, you’re a 19-win team. Booker’s Wiggins Factor doesn’t have a strength-of-team kicker, he’s just legitimately that bad, a fact evident to everyone except Suns fans.

And Tyler Johnson? Who pays $19.25 million to him? Oh, that’s right, the Suns’ joke of a front office.

Get it together, Phoenix. Your owner might as well be Rachel Phelps from “Major League.” Is Sarver trying to move the Suns to Seattle?

If you want to get in on the fun yelling at me on Twitter, follow @RealFoxD. I’ll happily defend the validity of the stat and point out why your beloved player got such a high number that you’re now wanting to throw things at me.

And thanks for reading!