The NBA had 55 players earning at least $10 million annually two seasons ago. The total this season: 107. With all this big money, who has been worth it? We made six rounds of cuts based on performance and value, using 2016-17 numbers as of April 1. End result: the one player that's hands-down delivering the most bang for his buck. Think you know who it is?
If you rate as a negative offensive and defensive player in real plus/minus, you're out. Being negative in one is fine -- you can be so good on one end that it supersedes lesser results on the other (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, etc.). But negative in both? So long.
If you're getting paid, you'd better rank in the top 20 in one elite skill (PPG, RPG, APG, BPG, SPG or 3PG). A great shooter (Eric Gordon) or rim protector (Hassan Whiteside) survives here. But those cut tend to be versatile role players and aging vets who make smaller contributions.
To survive, a player's PPG or his RPG+APG+SPG+BPG has to exceed his salary (in millions). We lose Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Tough to drop players of that caliber, but these cuts are all about value. In reality, stars like these are on another level. For our purposes, we're leveling the playing field and holding everyone -- right or wrong -- to the same standards. Average cap hit in this cut: $20.1 million.
Similar to the last cut, but this time we lose those with the highest percentage of games missed compared to salary. This knocks off a handful of stars who aren't on the court enough to advance. Sorry, but we have to split hairs at this point and games missed are not a good return on investment.
Simply put, this cut measures performance relative to peer salary. We took each player's salary rank and compared it against a composite ranking of game score and RPM. Harden and Westbrook, the priciest players left at $26.5 million each, are gone. On to our final grouping ...
THE FINAL 15
These are the 15 best values among the $10 million club. Highest-paid: Kawhi Leonard ($17.7 million). Lowest: Jrue Holiday ($11.3 million). The formula for picking the best value: scoring + non-scoring contributions divided by salary and multiplied by percentage of games played.