Who are the most underpaid players in the NBA?

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Last night we brought you the most overpaid players in the NBA, at least according to the Wages of Wins blog.

But who are the best values? Who are the most underpaid according to the Wages of Wins blog? Not necessarily who you think.

Often it can be good player still on a rookie deal. But this list shows that an elite player can be a good value at any price.

First, a reminder how Wages of Wins — the blog of the book by the same name — came to this list: First they figured the cost of an NBA win ($1.58 million, which is total salary paid by the league divided by wins) then used their “wins produced” stat to figure out how much players contributed to a team’s wins.

Here are the top three:

1. Kevin Love (Minnesota). Owners love to tell you about the explosion of crazy expensive contracts, but if they draft a very good player they get years of them at a bargain of a price. The rookie is a steal for the owners if they get a good player. See Love, who averaged 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per game and did it for $3.6 million. Of course, his team only had 17 wins, so you can nit pick how many wins he really produced, but he put up good numbers for a low price.

2. Dwight Howard (Orlando). Yes, Howard made $16.6 million, but he anchored the defense and contributed 22.9 points and 14.1 rebounds per game. Orlando won 56 games with a team that at various points had Vince Carter and Hedo Turkoglu playing big roles. That’s thanks to Howard. Put simply, there are not many elite players in the NBA and when you get one they are worth the price.

3. LeBron James (Miami). The same as Howard — yes he makes $14.5 million but you get 24.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. You get a lot of wins for your money. Another point about LeBron (and Howard and other true elite players) — they generate more money in terms of ticket sales, sponsor money, television viewer then they are paid. These elite guys are values to the owners.

The rest of the top 10 are: Landry Fields (who made just $473,000 last season), Kris Humphries (who is now a free agent), Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Al Horford, Kevin Durant, and Dwyane Wade.

Report: Hornets rookie Miles Bridges to compete in dunk contest

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Want to see more dunks like this and this?

Watch the dunk contest during All-Star weekend.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Miles Bridges, the No. 12 pick in last year’s draft, has quickly proven himself as belonging in the Hornets’ rotation. He’s active, capable of getting to the rim and picks up defensive concepts quickly.

But like most rookies picked in the middle of the first round, he hasn’t yet earned a national profile.

The dunk contest will be his opportunity to change that.

Bulls’ Wendell Carter reportedly out 8-12 weeks following thumb surgery

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Wendell Carter Jr. has had a strong rookie season in Chicago: 10.3 points a game, 7 rebounds, showing real strength and touch inside and getting 67 percent of his shot attempts in the paint. The advanced stats like him: He’s got an above average PER and Value over Replacement Player, something very rare for a rookie. He looks like a key part of the future in Chicago.

And he’s out for the next two-to-three months.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune first reported that Carter might have ligament damage in his left thumb requiring surgery, and that coach Jim Boylen said Carter was seeing a specialist. Shams Charania of The Athletic took it to the next step.

That’s a blow to his development but doesn’t really change the trajectory of a Bulls team that will pick high in next June’s draft.

This does not change the Bulls’ plans heading into the trade deadline — big man Robin Lopez is still available (but likely will end up a buyout candidate) reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Bobby Portis will get more run with Carter out.

The young Bulls have been hit hard by injuries this season.  Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Portis have all missed time, and Denzel Valentine has yet to play a game for Chicago this season.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis: ‘We will never, ever tank’

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Before the season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis stated his goals: 50 wins and the conference finals.

Washington is 19-26 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Time to shift priorities?

NBC Sports Washington:

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington:

The Wizards are too talented to tank right now. Led by Bradley Beal, they have a roster of capable veterans. They just traded for Trevor Ariza, making that even more true.

As bad as they’ve been, the Wizards are just 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position. They will likely miss the postseason, but there’s no alternative better than trying to get there. They’re too far down the road toward winning now to simply pivot into a rebuilding.

But what about if the Wizards get eliminated from playoff contention with games left in the season? They won’t tank down the stretch to improve their draft position? What’s the point of that?

And what about future seasons? Washington will have a tough time building a satisfactory winner after signing John Wall to a super-max extension that kicks in next season. That difficult-to-move contract almost mandates the Wizards prioritize the present. A healthy Wall is good enough to ensure Washington can’t bottom out – for now.

Wall be 32 in the final year of that deal. The Wizards could be in ruins by then. Taking the option to tank off the table would be a mistake.

To be fair, I’m not totally sure Leonsis is doing that. Owners almost never admit to tanking. Most deny it.

But this goes a level beyond. This is far more forceful than Leonsis had to be, which makes me believe it’s actually his plan.

That’s fine right now. Eventually, it could make a futile situation far worse.

Agent: LeBron James would play if it were playoffs

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LeBron James‘ agent, Rich Paul, gave a 3-6-week recovery timeline for LeBron’s groin injury, which the Lakers superstar suffered just over three weeks ago.

Chris Broussard on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday:

I was in contact with Rich Paul this morning, and he told me, if this were the playoffs, that LeBron would be playing.

The Lakers have gone 5-7 without LeBron, slipping into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference. What if LeBron feels Los Angeles could miss the playoffs without him? Would he return before fully healthy? That’s the big question.

Ideally, LeBron rests until fully recovered. Groin injuries can worsen and linger longer if played through. The only way for LeBron to get this completely behind him is sitting.

But this is also apparently an injury he could play through. It’d be hard for LeBron to watch from the sideline as the Lakers’ playoff odds drop precipitously.

Right now, they’re hanging in the mix. But any slump over the next few weeks will immediately turn attention to LeBron and how he’ll respond.