Phoenix Suns Players Bang for the Buck: Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris Provide Best Value

The NBA All-Star break gives the game's best players a chance to show their stuff on the international stage, the rest of the league's players the opportunity to take a break, and us fans time to contemplate and digest what we've seen from our teams during the first half of the season.

Over the next few days at BSotS, expect extensive analysis of the performance of Suns players so far this season. Who's performing and who isn't? What players have a bright future in Phoenix and which ones will be packing their bags at the end of the season?

Let's tip it off with a look at a measure of salary efficiency, an attempt to gauge how well players are producing commensurate with their salaries by calculating their salary dollars per each 2011-2012 season win share. The win share stat is intended to estimate how an individual player's achievements have contributed to a team's wins.

A full definition of how the stat is calculated can be found here. It isn't a comprehensive measure, but more so than simple stats like points scored or rebounds gathered per game since it includes a player's production in several categories on both ends of the floor.

In a salary cap sport, a measure of this type of player value is critical. Salary resources are limited and must be used wisely to have a successful team.

How do the 2011-2012 Suns players contribute based on their salaries? Who's pulling his weight and who's not?

Follow the jump for more.......

The disclaimer for any statistical measure applies to the following data. They will never tell the whole story and should be used in concert with watching the games to get a full understanding of their meaning. As we'll see below when we dive into these numbers, nobody would rather have Markieff Morris than LeBron James, and nobody thinks Ryan Anderson is a superstar, though the data will suggest each of those things when viewed in a vacuum.

Since I know we all love charts, here's a chart! This is the current Suns roster, their 2011-2012 salaries, total win shares so far and dollars per win share:

Win_shares_chart_suns_medium

(All salaries courtesy of ShamSports.com; all win share data courtesy of BasketballReference.com.)

A few things jump out to me from this list. Morris' 1.1 win shares are pretty good, for a rookie. He's an up and coming player and a bright young hope for the Suns, but he's not one of the team's best players yet. He rates so highly because he's on his rookie contract and makes a salary that is tiny by NBA standards.

Channing Frye rating so high and Grant Hill so low is an indication of how NBA stats still don't measure defensive contributions well enough and therefore overrate scoring. It also tells me that consistency isn't considered, as Frye's hot and cold nature is his biggest flaw. Still, Frye is a solid player, and his $5M+ this year isn't out of line, no matter how fans might curse his name.

Gortat and Dudley produce consistently, and they're both probably underpaid. This is why they're two of the Suns most value trade chips.

A note about why I used total win shares and not win shares per 48 minutes: the point is to measure bottom line production, so only total win shares matter. For example, if Nash and Hill miss games on back to backs because they need additional rest due to age or nagging injuries, that's not their "fault" per se, but this isn't about assigning blame. Production is production. Well, unless players would give back their salary in games they don't play, and that salary wouldn't count against the cap.

To put the Suns players in a bit of context, here's a breakdown of the top 10 win shares in the league so far this season. (Gortat is #20 in the NBA in total win shares.)

Win_shares_chart_league_medium

Is there any amount LeBron James could be paid that would be too much? It's hard to imagine one. Of course, there's that whole "can't win a ring" thing, but that's not going to last forever. There's not a fanbase in the league who wouldn't go nuts at the prospect of LeBron playing on their team. He's easily the league's best player, by any measure.

Kevin Love and James Harden are on their rookie contracts, so of course they provide fantastic value. And Ryan Anderson is.....hey, wait a minute. What the hell is Anderson doing on this list? He's not an All-Star and is only averaging 16 PPG but is doing so with amazing offensive efficiency. Again, win shares don't tell the full story, but Anderson is playing better than most fans realize.

And, just for fun, some highly-paid former Suns:

Win_shares_chart_former_suns_medium

None of these players are having great seasons. Amare Stoudemire has been inconsistent without a viable point guard until recently, and has missed some games due to injury. He's not producing well, and if it's an indication of his inevitable physical decline, does that make anyone less upset that the Suns let him walk? It does for me.

Turkoglu and Joe Johnson are simply overpaid. They're solid contributing players and JJ was selected as an All-Star, but they're both prime examples of players who are taking up too much cap space for what they bring to their teams.

What say you, Suns fans? Is this an illuminating way to look at player value? What stands out to you in this data?

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