Updated: February 6, 2013, 9:28 PM ET

2. Around the Association

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The NBA's Underpaid Superstars

By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

NBA executives, analytics and the man himself agree: LeBron James is underpaid, as our Tom Haberstroh explored in Tuesday's Per Diem.

He's not alone. The NBA's restrictions on individual contracts mean some players are prohibited from securing their full value on the open market.

Advanced metrics can help us determine just how large this pool is. My wins above replacement metric is ideal for this task because it focuses on how much value a player provides his team on the court, which is a result of productivity and playing time.

Say you're the GM of a team with cap space this summer. How much will you have to pay to add a win to next season's total? Well, some players are better values than others, but on average teams paid about $1.5 million above the minimum salary for each WARP the previous season during free agency last summer. In 2011 after the lockout, that figure was slightly higher -- nearly $1.8 million. Combining the two markets gives a value of $1.6 million for each additional win.

  • To read the entire column, click here Insider

    Kevin Pelton

    ESPN Staff Writer
  • Is Brook Lopez A Top-10 Player?

    By David Thorpe | ESPN Insider

    We don't always need advanced metrics to tell us certain things.

    If asked to list the top players in the NBA today, it's likely any NBA fan or media member would rattle off LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony without even thinking. You could probably add Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Tony Parker, and sure enough, you'd have 10 of the top 11 players ranked by PER.

    Except you'd be missing one name, with which advanced metrics do help. Sitting comfortably at No. 4 on that list is Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, who boasts a PER north of 25. Just four players have PERs above 25, and the other three are bona fide MVP candidates this season -- James, Durant and Paul. Lopez even made the All-Star team this year, replacing injured guard Rajon Rondo.

  • To read the entire column, click here Insider

    David Thorpe

    ESPN Staff Writer