G-Chat message I received from Kevin Pelton last night:

Kevin: Working on my ranking of team payroll efficiency. The Raptors are dead last.

At first I thought he was just joking, playing tricks on the Raptors reporter after a dismal loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He wasn’t. It’s true. Looking at his latest for Basketball Prospectus, the Toronto Raptors are indeed 30th in the league with respect to team payroll effiency. Ouch.

The breakdown over at BP uses marginal dollars per marginal win to measure payroll efficiency. As Pelton explains:

Marginal dollars per marginal win calculates how much teams are spending above the NBA’s salary floor (75 percent of the cap) for each win above what a replacement-level team could muster (which we estimate at 10 wins).

The Raptors are currently tied with Washington for the third worst record in the league, sitting at a lovely 21-57. With a payroll of over $70 million, the Raptors are spending $2.1 million marginal dollars per marginal win. In comparison, the Wizards rank 22nd in the league, and with the same record as the Raptors have a payroll of $58 million. For their 21 victories this season, Washington has spent $1.2 million marginal dollars per marginal win.

Pelton’s chart also shows each team’s ranking in the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons. Last year, with Chris Bosh and a record of 40-42, the Raptors were ranked 11th in the league. Quite a drop off this season.

There’s a lot of money being spent on talent that’s not really producing much on the floor. First, there’s the MLE ($4.9 million this season) that was spent on Linas Kleiza who missed half of the season with microfracture and arthroscopic surgery (and who will miss half of next season, too). Then there’s Peja Stojakovic who was eventually bought out after being traded to the Raptors from New Orleans. With Peja now playing for the Mavericks, the Raptors have essentially paid him to play for someone else. Of course, Stojakovic coming to Toronto allowed the team to shed themselves of that awful Marcus Banks contract as well as to cut ties with Jarrett Jack, but add in the money Jose Calderon ($9 million this season) and Andrea Bargnani (8.5 million this season) are making and, yup, suddenly you’re up to $70 million.

The bright side for the Raps? They’re going to have a very high draft pick and will clear a chunk of salary off the books next season (including that $15 million from Stojakovic), leaving them with somewhere around $47 million in salary locked in next season assuming all options are picked up.

The good, the bad, the ugly. Kind of like the Raps season this year.