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.

Comments (5)

  1. Scott,

    This is slightly off topic, but assuming Jay loses his job at the end of the season, do you think that a new coach again would be hired from within? For example, English or PJ taking over the job. If not, who is available that could help make the Raps competitive on a consistent basis, and earn their salaries?

    As has been written about in the past, the Raptors do have some talent; however, has it been the inability of the coaching staff to inspire the players to buy into a team game on both end of the floor that has prevented any success. Or, is it the fault of the players, and their lack of experience that is the bigger issue? I have never been to a live game, but it seems to me that few players show leadership on the floor. I would love to be court side to hear the in-game chatter of the players, especially on the defensive end.

  2. Same questions to you too Holly.

  3. To truly gauge something like this, there needs to be both a raw measure and an injury-adjusted measure. With several significant (and higher-paid) players missing significant chunks of the season, a non-injury-adjusted measure is going to paint the already sad-sack Raptors in an even more pessimistic light.

    Even aside from this, however, the result is something pretty much any Captain Obvious could tell you: when you lose the best player by a fairly significant margin on a decidedly mediocre team for cap space and a draft pick, and you are left to try to replace that amount of talent without giving up the assets you already have, of course you are not going to be getting value for your money. You just lost the best dollar-value player on your team.

    What something like this will be useful for in the future, however, is tracking the ongoing progress of the franchise. Future prospects for the franchise rest upon accumulation of assets and growth from within, and a measure like this may actually be able to quantify for us the progress our franchise is making based on these things.

  4. The Raps rank last in everything, the whole franchise is a joke. Colangelo should be fired and forced to give back all the money he stole from this organization.

  5. [...] You may recall a post from a few months ago where Kevin Pelton had written that the Raptors were last in the league in payroll efficiency. Basically, they didn’t have very many wins in comparison to the total [...]

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