Tuesday, May 30 2023

HoopsHype has quantified the real values of players in history and came up with a list of the Top 25 overpaid players. Names like Chandler Parsons will not surprise you, but there are several on here that may make readers do a double-take.

To determine this, we used a Real Value metric developed by our own Alberto De Roa, which is explained in detail here.

Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler, Houston RocketsTyson Chandler, Houston Rockets

Tyson Chandler, Houston Rockets

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 17-2
Real Value:
Career earnings: $189,644,026
Difference: -$89,429,720 (-47.16%)

This isn’t meant to be a slight to Tyson Chandler as he had a great, long career, even becoming one of the only players ever to win NBA, World and Olympic titles in their career. He also made an All-Star team and was Defensive Player of the Year once.

But he made a lot more than his play warranted, which, credit to him, wasn’t the case for many centers during his time in the NBA. It’s because the center position was so down during his prime that Chandler’s competent play was enough to earn him multiple huge contracts, including a six-year, $64.4 million contract from Chicago, a four-year, $55.4 contract from Dallas and a four-year, $52 million deal with Phoenix.

Chandler wasn’t obscenely overpaid for any one season, but the fact that he played for so long while earning so much money is why he finds himself at the top of this list. His most overpaid season, according to Real Value, came in 2018-19 when he made $13.6 million to average 3.1 points and 3.9 rebounds, an $11.5 million overpay, per our metric.

Juwan Howard

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 14-5
Real Value:
Career earnings: $151,839,471
Difference: -$84,212,148 (-55.46%)

After just two seasons in the NBA and one All-Star appearance, Juwan Howard’s services were already the subject of a bidding war between Miami and Washington, one in which the latter party came out victorious, agreeing to a seven-year, $105 million deal with the then-Bullets, an enormous deal for the time.

By his third season, Howard was already the league’s seventh highest-paid player, making more than back-to-back Finals MVP Hakeem Olajuwon and perennial Defensive Player of the Year Alonzo Mourning and by 1999-00, he was fourth in the NBA in salary.

Mind you, Howard didn’t develop much after his first two seasons, never making another All-Star campaign and experiencing little team success until late in his career.

Howard’s most overpaid season came in 2002-03 when he was earning $20.6 million while averaging 18.4 points over 77 games, a $13.4 million overpay, according to Real Value.

Gordon Hayward

AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 8-4
Real Value: $128,744,716
Career earnings: $209,347,778
Difference: -$80,603,062 (-38.50%)

Gordon Hayward played his way into a max deal with the Celtics, earning his contract thanks to All-Star-type three-level scoring, to go with solid rebounding and playmaking from the wing. Right before signing the max deal, Hayward had his best campaign, putting up 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in the lone All-Star campaign of his career.

It’s been all downhill from there, unfortunately for Hayward, as he suffered a horrific leg injury within minutes of his regular-season Celtics debut, and he’s been unable to stay healthy since then. From 2018-19 to 2021-22, Hayward missed nearly one-third of his potential regular-season games for a myriad of reasons, all while getting paid the big bucks.

It hurts to put him on this list because the poor injury luck is no fault of his own, but Hayward hasn’t produced at the level of a max player since signing the four-year, $127.8 million contract with Boston. Almost inexplicably, the Hornets signed Hayward to a four-year, $120 million contract after that, too, which explains why the former Butler standout ranks as high he does on this list.

Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe MutomboDikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 16-2
Real Value: $63,928,441
Career earnings: $143,666,581
Difference: -$70,738,140 (-55.50%)

He was one of the best defensive players of all time, ranking second in NBA history in rejections, behind only Olajuwon but Dikembe Mutombo was extremely highly paid throughout his career, almost to an exaggerated extent.

Mutombo, a shot-blocking, rebounding specialist who never developed into much of an offensive threat outside of lobs and near-bucket finisher, ranked Top 11 in salary nine times throughout his 18-year career, even peaking as the league’s second-highest-paid player in 2004-05 when he made $19.5 million.

Unsurprisingly, that year was Mutombo’s most overpaid campaign, per Real Value, as he averaged 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds over 80 appearances, an overpay of $17.3 million, according to the metric.

Chandler Parsons

Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 6-3
Real Value: $49,902,469
Career earnings: $127,164,774
Difference: -$77,262,305 (-60.76%)

Considered one of the worst contracts ever dolled out in the NBA, Parsons signed a four-year, $94.5 million deal with the Grizzlies in the summer of 2016, despite showing signs of injury troubles in the seasons just prior to that, which only got worse following the huge contract, ultimately ending his career prematurely.

Either way, the contract went as disastrously as expected, as Parsons played in 34, 36, 25 and five games in the four campaigns of the deal, never averaging more than 7.9 points in that span of time before being out of the league by his age-32 season.

In that five-game season, Parsons was paid $25.1 million for contributions Real Value deemed worth roughly $509,000, a gargantuan $24.6 million overpay.

John Wall

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 8-4
Real Value: $156,723,925
Career earnings: $229,235,106
Difference: -$72,511,181 (-31.63%)

A max-contract player in this era of enormous salaries, injuries caused John Wall to go from being a Top 5 point guard in basketball to missing two full seasons of action, only playing in 40 games between those two years, in 2021-22, when he averaged 20,6 points on 40.4 percent shooting for Houston.

In those two seasons he sat out, Wall earned $82.5 million, which shot him up this list. And in that season he did play in between, he made $41.3 million, a $28.6 million overpay, according to Real Value.

Klay Thompson

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 6-5
Real Value: $113,300,596
Career earnings: $185,733,241
Difference: -$72,432,645 (-39.00%)

Injuries are the biggest proponent as to why Klay Thompson is considered one of the most overpaid players ever, according to Real Value.

Thompson missed two entire seasons from 2019-20 through 2020-21 while earning a max salary that paid him $68.1 million combined over those two campaigns. Real Value, obviously, valued Thompson at $0 for those two seasons, which vaulted the future Hall-of-Fame shooting guard up these standings.

It didn’t help that Thompson struggled statistically in his first season back, 2021-22, when he put up 20.4 points on 42.9 percent shooting in 32 games while making nearly $38 million, another massive overpay, per Real Value, of roughly $24 million.

Blake Griffin

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 7-6
Real Value: $186,468,704
Career earnings: $258,432,713
Difference: -$71,964,009 (-27.85%)

This one isn’t tough to decipher, as Blake Griffin, when healthy, was one of the league’s most exciting, explosive power forwards, a double-double machine putting up big numbers consistently. But poor health made it so that Griffin’s prime ended earlier than it should have, and led to him being overpaid, per our metric.

Prior to this season, Griffin had missed 26.4 percent of his possible regular-season games, and that’s not even counting that he had to sit out his entire rookie season due to a knee injury.

Griffin’s most overpaid season wouldn’t come until last year, 2021-22, when he was on the last season of a monster contract when he was making $32.4 million to average 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds over 56 appearances. Real Value valued his worth that season at $3.6 million for an overpay of $28.8 million.

Brian Grant

Brian Grant, Phoenix SunsBrian Grant, Phoenix Suns

Brian Grant, Phoenix Suns

Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 10-3
Real Value: $38,098,237
Career earnings: $109,842,052
Difference: -$71,743,815 (-65.32%)

The Blazers were focused on trying to buy a winner in the late ’90s and early ’00s, which led to them giving out a lot of big contracts, especially for the time.

One such deal was Brian Grant’s six-year, $56 million contract, which he received after averaging 13.4 points and 7.1 rebounds over three not-very-special seasons to start off his career. Grant was a solid role player, capable of knocking down midrange jumpers and battling with frontcourt players of the era far bigger than him, but he was never an All-Star or anything of the sort.

It wasn’t only Portland that overpaid Grant, either, as Miami followed that contract up with a monstrous seven-year, $86 million deal. Grant’s most overpaid season came during that contract, in 2005-06, when illness was about to cut his career short, as he averaged 2.9 points that year over 21 appearances while earning $16 million for an overpay of $15.6 million, per Real Value.

Kevin Garnett

AP Photo/Jim Mone

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 17-5
Real Value: $272,535,063
Career earnings: $343,862,398
Difference: -$71,327,335 (-20.74%)

Probably among the NBA’s 20 greatest players ever, Kevin Garnett was always compensated as such, ranking as the league’s highest-paid player ever until LeBron James took over the distinction two years ago. Garnett led the league in salary seven times in his career and ranked in the Top 5 six other times.

So if you’re wondering how our metric could consider a 15-time All-Star and a former league MVP overpaid, that’s how, as Garnett is one of the league’s all-time greats without a doubt, but he was always compensated that way, if not moreso.

Garnett also spent a long time in the NBA – 21 years, in fact – so all of the campaigns our metric considered him slightly overpaid added up. Garnett’s most overpaid season came in 2008-09 when he averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds while earning $24.8 million, an overpay of $10.6 million, per Real Value, not too drastic of a mark for a player who was still an All-Star that campaign and helped guide Boston to a 62-20 record.

Otto Porter Jr.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 6-3
Real Value: $62,357,714
Career earnings: $128,220,040
Difference: -$65,862,326 (-51.37%)

Lately, NBA teams have had so much money to spend, they seemingly don’t even know what to do with it half the time, something that has extended beyond the frenzied 2016 offseason.

This overpay of a contract between the Wizards and Otto Porter Jr. didn’t get signed in 2016 but rather in 2017, one summer later, a monstrous, four-year, $106.5 million agreement which came after just two seasons of somewhat impressive play by Porter.

Without even making an All-Star team or receiving some sort of accolade, Washington gave Porter that deal, which he, through no fault of his own, failed to live up to.

Porter’s most overpaid season came in 2020-21 when he averaged 9.7 points over 28 games (he was injured a lot that year) while earning $28.5 million, which Real Value deemed to be a $22.5 million overpay.

Jermaine O’Neal

Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana PacersJermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers

Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana Pacers

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 12-6
Real Value: $104,243,742
Career earnings: $168,794,021
Difference: -$64,550,279 (-38.24%)

One of the more underrated big men of his era, Jermaine O’Neal blocked shots at a high level, provided toughness down low and had some face-up abilities for a center, often knocking down shots from the short midrange area.

O’Neal’s primary reason for being on this list is due to the seven-year, $126.6 million contract he signed with the Pacers in the 2003 offseason, following back-to-back All-Star campaigns and two straight 3rd Team All-NBA appearances. O’Neal lived up to the contract initially, posting his best NBA campaign in 2003-04, for which he earned 2nd Team All-NBA honors, but injuries later on made the contract into an ugly one pretty quickly.

O’Neal’s most overpaid season, according to Real Value, came in 2009-10, his lone season in Miami, when he made $23.0 million while putting up 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds over 70 games, an overpay of $16.5 million, per our metric.

Nicolas Batum

Nicolas BatumNicolas Batum

Nicolas Batum

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 10-4
Real Value: $103,975,392
Career earnings: $168,137,820
Difference: -$64,162,428 (-38.16%)

Nicolas Batum was a fine player throughout his prime, a versatile swingman who could score, create, rebound and defend multiple positions, though without providing huge offensive numbers.

But he wasn’t quite on the level of some of the contracts he signed in his career, including the five-year, $120 million contract he signed – shocker – during the 2016 offseason, one of the bigger overpays of recent memory.

Batum’s biggest overpay came in 2019-20 when he was paid $25.6 million by the Hornets to appear in 22 games while averaging 3.6 points, an impressive overpay of $22.6 million, according to Real Value.

Batum has enjoyed a solid career resurgence since joining the Clippers, which he parlayed into a two-year, $22.6 million contract from Los Angeles.

Theo Ratliff

Robert Skeoch/Allsport

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 12-4
Real Value: $39,515,307
Career earnings: $102,351,958
Difference: -$62,836,651 (-61.39%)

Theo Ratliff enjoyed a long NBA career despite being a limited offensive player thanks to his elite shot-blocking prowess, leading the league in nightly rejections three different times in his career and making two All-Defense teams.

However, due to injuries later in his career, Ratliff wasn’t able to live up to a three-year, $35 million extension he got from the Blazers in 2004, the primary time he was overpaid, according to Real Value. After that extension, Ratliff played more than 55 games in a season just once and fewer than 50 games five times.

Joe Johnson

Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 9-9
Real Value: $155,031,368
Career earnings: $217,468,696
Difference: -$62,437,328 (-28.71%)

He may have been overpaid a lot throughout his career, per our metric, but Joe Johnson was definitely a better player than his reputation indicates. While many deemed Johnson a shot-chucker with a somewhat selfish style of play, he was a seven-time All-Star and one-time 3rd Team All-NBAer for a reason.

According to our metric, Johnson’s most overpaid season came in 2015-16 when he split time between the Nets and Heat, averaging 12.2 points and 3.9 assists on 43.9 percent shooting while making $22.3 million. Real Value valued Johnson at $6.0 million that season, making that a $16.4 million overpay.

Harrison Barnes

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 6-4
Real Value: $86,213,718
Career earnings: $148,629,017
Difference: -$62,415,299 (-41.99%)

Despite also being a summer of 2016 signing, Harrison Barnes was a solid player throughout his biggest contract, providing floor-spacing, slashing and defensive versatility in his prime.

Still, according to Real Value, Barnes has been overpaid by approximately $62.4 million, with the biggest disparity in actual value vs. Real Value taking place in 2018-19 when he put up 16.9 points and 4.7 rebounds on 42.0 percent shooting. Barnes earned $24.1 million that season while Real Value had him worth $8.7 million for an overpay of $15.4 million.

Timofey Mozgov

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 10-1
Real Value: $20,253,667
Career earnings: $82,132,279
Difference: -$61,878,612 (-75.34%)

One of the first signings of the crazed 2016 offseason came when the Lakers were reported to have picked up Russian big man Timofey Mozgov, fresh off a championship run with the Cavaliers. What made the signing odd, even by that offseason’s standards, was the fact that the playoffs prior Mozgov was injured, only seeing action in 13 games and averaging 1.2 points as Cleveland won the title.

Had the signing taken place the summer prior, it would have made slightly more sense, as the 2015 postseason saw Mozgov play some of the best basketball of his career, putting up 10.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over 20 games.

Regardless, the four-year, $64 million contract L.A. signed Mozgov was an immediate albatross, as the lumbering center would only play in 85 NBA games the rest of his career. His most overpaid season where he actually played was his final NBA campaign of 2017-18 when he averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 31 games for the Nets while earning $15.3 million, a $14.0 million overpay, per Real Value.

Chris Bosh

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 8-8
Real Value: $180,838,675
Career earnings: $242,110,053
Difference: -$61,271,378 (-25.31%)

Following the departure of LeBron James, it was seen as a coup when the Heat re-signed Chris Bosh to a max contract. Unfortunately for both parties, Bosh had issues with blood clotting prematurely end his career, with Miami paying him three seasons of a max contract while the former star big man sat out, playing zero games in that stretch.

Outside of that, Real Value doesn’t believe Bosh was obscenely overpaid in his carer, with his most overpaid season coming in 2013-14 when he earned $19.1 million while averaging 16.2 points and 6.6 rebounds on 51.6 percent shooting.

Real Value believes that season by Bosh was worth $11.3 million for a difference of $7.8 million.

Alonzo Mourning


Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 12-4
Real Value: $83,126,259
Career earnings: $143,906,333
Difference: -$60,780,074 (-42.24%)

A rare kidney condition nearly made Mourning retire and forced him to miss the entire 2002-03 season, as well as most of the following campaign. That’s the biggest reason why he’s on this list, because prior to that, in his prime, he was one of the top two-way centers in basketball.

Still, just like in the prior case, injuries and illnesses are part of the risk teams undergo when signing players to huge contracts.

Mourning was rightfully paid his full $20.6 million for the ’02-03 season he missed out on, which is by far the biggest chunk of the money Real Value believes he was overpaid.

Al Horford

Al Horford attempts a jumpshotAl Horford attempts a jumpshot

Al Horford attempts a jumpshot

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 7-8
Real Value: $183,615,490
Career earnings: $243,228,232
Difference: -$59,612,742 (-24.51%)

Al Horford is a player who the advanced analytics don’t appreciate as much as they should, as his impact often goes beyond the stat sheet, which could partly explain how he found his way on this list.

At the same time, he has signed some enormous contracts in his career, which he may not totally have lived up to. In the crazed 2016 offseason, Horford signed a four-year, $113 million with the Celtics. Three offseasons later, in 2019, Horford followed that up with a four-year, $109 million contract with the Sixers, which was a total disaster for both parties.

Still, great work by Horford’s agent in both cases.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Horford’s two most overpaid seasons came during that contract. During his one year in Philadelphia, the former Florida Gator averaged 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds while earning $28.0 million. Real Value valued his play at $11.7 million that year for an overpayment of $16.3 million.

Allan Houston

Doug Pensinger/Allsport

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 11-2
Real Value: $58,274,424
Career earnings: $117,556,500
Difference: -$59,282,076 (-50.43%)

Allan Houston probably got a boost in profile thanks to playing some of his best basketball as a member of the Knicks in one of the biggest markets of the league.

Houston parlayed back-to-back All-Star seasons into a six-year, $100 million contract with New York in the summer of 2001. The 2-guard would only play four seasons of that deal, eventually retiring due to recurring knee problems, last seeing NBA action in the 2004-05 campaign.

By that season, Houston’s production had fallen off a cliff, as the former star averaged 11.9 points on 41.5 percent shooting in just 20 games while earning $17.5 million. According to Real Value, Houston’s worth as a player that year was $3.4 million for a $14.1 million disparity.

Kevin Love

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 9-5
Real Value: $180,430,950
Career earnings: $237,969,812
Difference: -$57,538,862 (-24.18%)

A star in his prime, Kevin Love’s most overpaid seasons have come recently, after the big man signed a huge extension with the Cavaliers in the 2018 offseason, one that was partly given to him for his loyalty to Cleveland afterJames and Kyrie Irving’s departure.

Love’s play has picked up recently as he’s adapted well to a bench role, but the fact he’s doing so while making $29.0 million this year indicates he’s still heavily overpaid. Cleveland has just survived Love’s contract over the past season-plus thanks to having players like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley still on rookie deals.

Regardless, Love more than earned his money, greatly contributing to the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship run as a star third option. Even so, the future Hall-of-Famer’s most overpaid season came in 2020-21 when he made $31.3 million while averaging 12.2 points on 40.9 percent shooting, a campaign Real Value deemed worth $7.7 million, a $23.5 million difference.

Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte HornetsBismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets

Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 9-2
Real Value: $31,708,405
Career earnings: $88,942,306
Difference: -$57,233,901 (-64.35%)

Over the past couple of seasons, Bismack Biyombo has finally started to outplay the size of his contracts, blocking shots and finishing around the rim better than he has at any point in his career.

It hasn’t been enough to make him less overpaid for his career, however, at least not according to Real Value.

Prior to the summer of 2016, Biyombo had averaged 4.6 points and 6.5 rebounds (albeit with a solid 1.6 blocks per game) on 50.7 percent shooting. And yet, that was seemingly enough for the Magic to sign him to a four-year, $72 million contract in the 2016 offseason anyway, a deal they regretted enough to trade away just two years later.

In fairness to Orlando, Biyombo was quite solid in the 2016 playoffs prior to that big-money signing, putting up 6.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on a deep Eastern Conference postseason run that lasted 20 games.

Regardless, he didn’t live up to that huge contract anyway, failing to follow up that playoff performance with anything special.

Biyombo’s most overpaid season came in 2018-19, when, as a member of the Hornets, he put up 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds while earning $17.0 million. Real Value valued him $2.5 million that year, for a $14.5 million disparity.

Ian Mahinmi

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 8-5
Real Value: $28,038,869
Career earnings: $84,155,699
Difference: -$56,116,830 (-66.68%)

French big man Ian Mahinmi had potential early on in his career but he failed to really live up to it. In spite of that, he lasted 12 seasons in the NBA, no small feat whatsoever, which speaks to his raw talent. He was a solid backup big man who could set screens and defend to an extent.

Still, for most of his time in the NBA, he failed to produce up to the level of the contracts he was signed to, particularly later on in his career. Another super beneficiary of the 2016 offseason, Mahinmi parlayed a solid – by his standards – 2015 postseason run for the Pacers, one that saw him average 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds on 50.0 percent shooting, into a huge deal from the Wizards that summer.

Washington signed him to a four-year, $64 million deal after that playoff run, and, needless to say, Mahinmi did not live up to the size of that contract.

The most overpaid season of his career came in 2018-19 when the center averaged 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds on 45.2 percent shooting over 34 games, six of which were starts. He did that while earning $16.0 million, $14.0 million more than Real Value had him worth that year.

Evan Turner

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 7-3
Real Value: $42,963,969
Career earnings: $98,227,016
Difference: -$55,263,047 (-56.26%)

As we’ve discussed plenty already, the summer of 2016 was wild as far as money getting thrown around to average players. That’s how Evan Turner, who had played with three teams in the prior three seasons while averaging 11.3 points on 43.5 percent shooting (28.8 percent from three), got a four-year, $70 million contract from the Blazers.

The final season of that deal, which the Hawks were paying for by that point, was the most overpaid of his career, with Turner making $18.6 million while producing like a player worth $1.2 million, according to Real Value. In 19 games that year, Turner averaged 3.3 points on 37.3 percent shooting.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype

Source: Yahoo Sports


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