Heat

Heat's LeBron James Most Underpaid Player in NBA?

| by David Berri

A few weeks ago, Thomas Van Riper wrote an article for Forbes.com detailing the Most Overpaid players in the NBA. And today, Van Riper has an article – again at Forbes.com – listing the Most Underpaid players in the league. Topping the list is a player who will surprise some, and anger some fans in Cleveland.

Here is how the Van Riper article begins…

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A judge looked this inmate straight in the eyes and said something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

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A judge looked this inmate straight in the eyes and said something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

Cleveland has been in quite a huff. The selfish, ungrateful King, LeBron James, abandoned the city, taking his talents to South Beach. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert went ballistic, fans burned his jersey and then turned LeBron’s return last week with the Miami Heat into an insult-fest akin to a George W. Bush visit to Berkeley.

Talk about ungrateful. Instead of vilifying James, Clevelanders ought to be thanking him for the great ride. Gilbert should be thanking him too–the salary he doled out to James was a pittance compared to the victories and money that rolled in during his Cleveland reign.

Yes, at $15.8 million, LeBron was the NBA’s most underpaid player in 2009-’10. At almost 30 points and nine assists per game, 50.5% shooting and 39 minutes a night on the floor, James produced more wins for his club (27.2) than any player in the league. All while earning less than Zach Randolph and Pau Gasol, and about the same as slightly lesser stars Dwight Howard and James’ new Miami runningmate, Dwayne Wade. James edges out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Boston’s Rajon Rondo as the player who delivered the most for the money last season.

Yes, King James – when we consider Wins Produced, the average cost of a win in the  NBA —  was the most “exploited” player in the NBA in 2009-10 (and once again, this story relies upon the somewhat “crude” method I have offered in the past in this forum).

Van Riper’s article includes a very cool slide show which reveals the top ten “underpaid” players.  The other names on the list include Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard. For the rest of the names, check out the slide show. And for even more names, check out the post I offered on the overpaid list (yes, I sort of jumped the gun a few weeks ago).

- DJ