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Which Rockets Players Have the Best Contracts?

Over at Hickory High a few weeks ago, I looked at a little metric I created called value ratio to assess the best and worst contracts in the league. In simple terms, I looked at the ratio of a player’s salary vs. the median salary compared with the ratio of his win shares vs. median win shares to get a sense of how he’s performing relative to how much he’s being paid. Using the same dataset and results, we can evaluate both the Rockets’ roster as currently constructed as well as analyze the trade deadline deal with the Kings in a new context.

The following table lists the value ratios of all qualifying players currently on the Rockets’ roster. Remember, a lower value ratio is better than a higher one, (the team is getting more value out of that player relative to the salary he’s being paid) and a negative value ratio simply means that the player is producing a negative win share number. Note that this does not include three players (Patrick Beverley, Donatas Montiejunas, and James Anderson) who have recently featured in the Rockets’ rotation as they do not meet the 500 minutes-played threshold.

Player Salary vs. Median Win Shares vs. Median Value Ratio
 Chandler Parsons

0.31

3.55

0.09

 Greg Smith

0.31

1.18

0.26

 Carlos Delfino

1.00

2.42

0.41

 James Harden

4.69

7.55

0.62

 Omer Asik

2.79

2.64

1.06

 Jeremy Lin

2.79

2.00

1.40

 Francisco Garcia

2.08

1.33

1.56

 Thomas Robinson

1.43

-0.18

-7.85

By this metric the Rockets are getting the best bang for their buck with Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith, and Carlos Delfino. Parsons, in fact, rates as one of the best contracts in the entire NBA. Parsons and Smith are both paid significantly less than the median NBA player while producing an above-median level of win shares (in Parsons’ case, the second most on the team). Delfino receives a median NBA salary but produces nearly 2.5 times as many win-shares as the median NBA player. Although Harden’s salary over the life of his contract is almost 5 times that of the NBA median, by this metric he is still “undervalued” since he produces nearly 8 times the median level of win shares.

The remaining four eligible players are all to some extent “overvalued” in the eyes of the value ratio metric. Asik is closest to being properly valued: his value ratio is very close to the ratio of 1.0 that indicates a player is being properly paid for his production. Lin and Garcia, both receiving above-median salaries, have failed to live up to their contracts so far. Thomas Robinson, who headlined the Rockets’ deadline deal, has an unappetizing -7.85 value ratio due to his negative win share value so far this season.

In return for Garcia and Robinson (value ratios of 1.56 and -7.85 respectively), the Rockets sent out three players that fell within this dataset: Patrick Patterson (0.51 value ratio), Toney Douglas (0.57 value ratio), and Marcus Morris (1.18 value ratio). While it seems from this comparison that the Rockets sent out two cheap, productive players and one mildly overvalued player for an overvalued player (Garcia) and one who can’t even positively contribute to the Rockets’ win total (Robinson), this is of course an incomplete picture of the trade. Garcia is essentially salary fodder unloaded to help the Kings save a few bucks this season. While Patterson, Douglas, and Morris may all seem like superior options to Robinson (at least in terms of value ratio), the former three players, while still collectively relatively young, have probably come close to their peaks as rotational-level NBA players. Robinson, on the other hand, is a former #5 overall pick in his first season in the NBA, a player who simply oozes jaw-dropping athleticism and potential. In short, it’s far too early to evaluate Robinson’s young NBA career or to be concerned by his negative win share number this season.

Overall, the Rockets’ roster fares quite well in terms of value ratio. Three of the Rockets’ most heavily-used players rate as downright bargains while nobody on the team appears to be grossly overpaid (in comparison, the Bobcats employ two of the most overpaid players in the league: Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens). This is yet another testament to the front office’s ability to get value out of second-round picks (Parsons), sign productive veterans to cheap contracts (Delfino), and spend their cap space on high-return investments (Harden).

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