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Bargnani, Kleiza Top Raptors' Most Overpaid from Last Season

Alan Anderson was a steal for the Raps last year based on his salary, and win shares mark.
Alan Anderson was a steal for the Raps last year based on his salary, and win shares mark.

Ball Don't Lie's Dan Devine recently deconstructed some comments New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith made regarding his salary.

To do this, he examined Smith's win shares, an advanced metric Bill James invented for baseball and Justin Kubatko adapted for basketball, and at face value concluded that indeed, Smith provided New York with a good deal considering his salary and productivity.

Evan Dunlap then performed a similar exercise over at SB Nation's Orlando Magic Blog, Orlando Pinstriped Post, giving us an interesting view of just how overpaid his club's roster was last season.

His post inspired me to follow suit with our beloved Raptors...

For starters, let's get into Devine's original logic in terms of breaking down whether or not JR Smith was overpaid.

Essentially, Devine used's win shares amounts for Smith, and multiplied that amount by the value of a win during last year's season ($1.56M.) That gave him the salary he should have been paid based on his contribution of wins ($3.9M), which meant Smith's actual salary of just under $2.34M was yes, a great deal for the Knicks. (You can read the entire breakdown here.)

And how about the Raptors?

Well, there were bargains to be found, but as you can see from the grid below, not a lot of bright spots:




Win Value

Win Value Difference

Wins to Break Even

Jose Calderon






Andrea Bargnani






Amir Johnson






Linas Kleiza






Jerryd Bayless






DeMar Derozan






Aaron Gray






Ed Davis






James Johnson






Gary Forbes






Rasual Butler






Anthony Carter






Jamaal Magloire






Solomon Alabi






Alan Anderson






Ben Uzoh






Leandro Barbosa






The second column after the players' names denotes their 2011-12 salary via Sham Sports' database. The column after that denotes the players' Win Share metric via The fourth column therefore indicates the salary the player SHOULD have been paid (calculated by multiplying the player's WS metric vs last year's win value of $1.56M.) The fifth, looks at how far off the player's actual salary was from what he should have earned, expressed as a percentage. So using Leandro Barbosa as an example, he was paid $7.6M yet should have been paid only $1.56M, or, his salary was nearly an 80% increase over what it should have been.

And finally, the sixth column simply denotes the win shares mark the player would have needed to hit, to justify the salary he was paid last season.

This of course is just one view, using win shares and not PER or Wins Produced or some other metric, but it's an interesting view nonetheless.

The best bargains on the club were Ed Davis and James Johnson. Both played a solid amount of minutes (Davis more-so towards the end of the season) and weren't paid an arm and a leg.

Alan Anderson and Ben Uzoh look like even bigger steals, but their salaries are actually under-represented here. Considering both received multiple 10-day contracts that aren't accounted for here, their win value difference is overstated.

Make no mistake about it though, both were great finds for the Raps, and it's no surprise that Toronto locked Anderson up for the immediate future.

On the overpaid side, the Raps had a lot of options to choose from. Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza look pretty bad here, which is no surprise really, but seeing Jose being slightly overpaid is a bit of an eye-opener.

And let's not even get into guys like Rasual Butler. You didn't need advanced metrics to know that he was badly overpaid - you just had to watch him play.

Two things of note that also jump out for me from this analysis.

1. It's tough to win a lot of games, when your key players are overpaid. Of the players on the Raptors' last year who averaged more than 20 minutes a game, Bargnani, Kleiza, and Barbosa were all overpaid, with others like Calderon also falling slightly on the "too pricey" side of things.

2. You can't overstate the value of rookie contracts. Part of the reason players like James Johnson and Ed Davis come out so well in this analysis is because they were still on their rookie deals last season. It again underscores how important drafting well is, especially for a club like Toronto that can't grab marquee free agents. When you draft studs and are able to pay them below their true market value, it gives you a major advantage. DeMar DeRozan is a perfect example of this. His WS mark is hardly anything to write home about, but he still looks like he's a great value here because of how paltry his salary is, relative to his productivity.

Of course this means that it's crucial that the Raps take all of this into consideration when deciding upon the futures of the aforementioned DeRozan and Davis.

They may be bargains now, but unless they pump up their productivity, especially DeRozan, then they could quickly go from being major assets, to major liabilities.