Through his first nine seasons in the NBA, Rashard Lewis(notes) grew impressively from a part-timer into a featured player in Seattle. Wielding the three-point shot as his main weapon – Lewis has drained nearly 4,000 of them during his career, seventh-most all-time – he became one of the league’s top scorers, averaging over 20 points per game between 2004 and 2007.
His reward: a six-year, $110-million contract with the Orlando Magic. The only problem is, aside from taking aim beyond the three-point arc, Lewis doesn’t do much on the court to help win games. He’s never been known for his defense or his passing, averaging fewer than two assists per game for his career. His rebounding also fell off in Orlando – he’s never averaged as many as six boards a game in three-plus years there, after doing so five times in Seattle. For a 6-foot-10 forward, that’s a problem. Then there’s his less-than-stellar shooting percentage: 43.5 percent last season, below his 45.6 percent average for his career.
Add it all up, and Lewis stands as the NBA’s most overpaid player, based on the last completed season of 2009-10.
He noses out Boston’s Jermaine O’Neal(notes) (who played in Miami last season), who averaged 13.5 in 28 minutes a game while making $23 million, and Philadelphia’s $14.5-million big man Elton Brand(notes), whose scoring dropped to 13 points a game last year. Filling out the top five: Miami center Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) (who was with Cleveland last season), a 44-percent shooter and tepid shot blocker who got $11.5 million, and Houston’s Brad Miller(notes) (who was with Chicago last season), who made over $12 million for mostly part-time duty.
Sports economist David Berri, author of the book Stumbling on Wins, has crunched the numbers to determine the collection of stats typically found on winning teams. What he found: Taking a player’s major stats – points, rebounds, turnovers, steals, assists and blocked shots, along with field goal and free throw percentage – and weighing them against the average number of possessions a team gets per game (the more possessions, the more chances to score, etc.) – goes a long way toward determining a player’s contribution to the outcome of the game. So negatives like turnovers and missed shots are equally counted against points and rebounds on the win-building scale.
Is the economic-style analysis perfect? Probably not, but it certainly goes a long way toward including a player’s total game in determining his value on the floor toward winning. Berri calls it “Wins Produced,” which we measured for each NBA player for 2009-10. On the pay side: adding up team payrolls shows that a typical NBA club spent $1.7 million for each win in 2009-10. So figuring players’ contributions vs. their pay comes down to comparing the value of the wins they produced to the value of their contracts. To distinguish between players that just didn’t produce from those that were hurt, we included only those that played in at least 75 percent of their team’s games last season. That means injury exemptions for players like Shaquille O’Neal(notes), Tracy McGrady(notes) and Eddy Curry(notes).
Example: LeBron James(notes), playing in Cleveland last season, produced a league-leading 27.2 wins for the Cavs, according to Berri’s calculations. At $1.7 million a pop, those wins were worth some $46.5 million to the team, more than $30 million above James’ $15.8 million salary. Just behind LeBron: Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant(notes) ($4.8 million salary for 19.7 wins worth $33.7 million) and Boston’s Rajon Rondo(notes) ($2 million salary for 17 wins worth $26.9 million).
Then there’s the flip side – those making big bucks for producing very few wins (or in some cases, contributing negatively to their teams’ win totals). In Lewis’ case, the stats evened out to produce a flat contribution – he gave the Magic a small fraction of one win last year, a $248,000 value. Lewis’ salary last season: $18.9 million. O’Neal, who made $23 million in Miami last year, gets credit for 3.1 Wins Produced, while Philly’s Brand, who averaged 13 points and six rebounds a game, was good for just a fraction of a win while making $14.9 million.
One take from the all-overpaid list: NBA general managers may make mistakes, but they learn from them. Six of last season’s 10 most overpaid players – O’Neal, Ilgauskas, Miller, Al Harrington(notes), Andres Nocioni(notes), and Darius Songaila(notes) – are playing in other cities this year. The Magic, unfortunately, are stuck with Lewis for three more years.
The “top” five:
1. Rashard Lewis, Orlando Magic: Slideshow
2. Jermaine O’Neal, Boston Celtics: Slideshow
3. Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers: Slideshow
4. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers: Slideshow
5. Brad Miller, Houston Rockets: Slideshow
I've always thought giving that giant albatross of a contract to Lewis to have him play out of position is going to keep Orlando from taking that next step to win a title. He's a good piece, but imagine having a soli power forward next to Howard to get the few rebounds he misses.
WHere is Andrei Kirilenko on the list? He makes nearly 18 million a year, he's a nice player, but shouldn't be making nearly that much. I agree with Elton Brand, his contract is the reason the Sixers will never be able to get rid of him. Iguadola is in the same boat, he got a max contract, despite the fact he would be a role player on a good team.
hes one of if not the most overpaid players in all of sports hes nothing more then average player making max money
Honestly I don't think Lewis is $100 million+ better than Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass at the pf position becasue that's how much more he makes than both of them..... He disappeared in the playoffs last season and is one of the worst defenders and rebounders in the league from the small and power forward positions- it just happens to get masked by Dwight Howard being a consensus all nba defensive center.
so where is joe johnson..
When he was in seattle he played in the post, showed the ability to dribble drive, and he can still shoot mid-range and 3's, Van Gundy has lewis shooting 3's mostly. Play him at the 3 so he can post again
In his best years Rashard Lewis was like a poor mans Kevin Durant.
Lewis is overpaid but he is not a bad player and is extremely versatile for Van Gundy who can play him at either forward spot to go big or small. The problem is when your power forward is 6'10 you shouldn't be talking about going small but thats the way he plays. Van Gundy is to blame a little too for having an offense that virtually lives or dies with the 3 pointer plus Lewis rebounding numbers are down because he plays next to Howard. Beasley could be averaging more rebounds too if he didn't play next to Love.
Players like Brad Miller and O'Neal were only overpaid because they were hit with injuries and were in the last years of their contract. I look at players like Iggy as being overpaid who are in their prime, got the max, and just arent good enough.
Rashard Lewis was about the same level a player that Rudy Gay is when he got his max deal. He's never been worth 120 million obviously, but to say he's an "average player" isn't true either. He's never been elite, but when he got his deal he was one of the top 30 players in the game I'd say. Him and Ray Allen were LETHAL together in Seattle on the offensive end.
Yeah people forget how good Rashard Lewis was in Seattle. Lewis was long and athletic 6'10 forward who was a shooting and scoring machine. He was a mismatch almost every game. Lewis has still provided the Magic with an integral reason for their success because of his versatility. That lineup they had with him and Hedo worked so well because of all the things he can do on the court and being able to compliment everything Hedo did. Hedo looks like he misses playing with Lewis.
Lewis is also one of the reasons the lanes aren't always clogged up around Dwight. Teams have to put somebody with length on the perimeter to guard him or he will be having clean shots all night.
Joe Johnson to me is overpaid based on the aspect that he got over ten million more then Wade and James. Since he is obviously not better then either one of them how could you possibly reason he should get paid more money?!?
Ask Paul Peirce he been a sniper from 3 since Ray arrived and that &$#%#&@! not by chance. Rashad is overpaid and owes Ray for that contract a little. Naw he does stretch the D but not much else.
Elton Brand might be overpaid, but his injury derailed his career, so his contract is justified. The 76ers couldn't predict he would get injured, and it would alter his career. He is a 20-10 for his career, so he earned that contract for all the work he put in beforehand. It's not like he had a few good seasons, and they threw him that contact...
close to 4,000 threes? haha i don't think so
You can basically put everyone on Orlando not named Dwight Howard on that list. For a team as good as they are, for as well coached as they are, it amazes me how poorly they handle their finances.
I pick Eddy Curry. Even though a lot of the guys mentioned are making way more than they should, he's making 11 or 12 million sitting on the bench with no chance of playing unless everyone gets hurt. Even then D'Antoni might go on the court himself before he lets that happen.
Yeah Eddy Curry should be one atleast the other guys on that list get into a game. Curry barely get's on the practice floor he is so out of shape.
I could never understand what possessed Otis Smith to give Rashard Lewis that huge contract back in 2007, he was a good 2nd star on the team to Ray Allen but he was never considered a franchise level player at any part in his career. He is a borderline all star at best but if someone offered him that sort of money then he'd never turn it down, he is an elite 3 point shooter but this year is averaginmg under 12ppg and although he is very durable and a good team player he's just not worth that salary.
I like Lewis as a player but his salary is just too high, he is over halfway through his deal now so in his final year he becomes a huge trading chip, until then he needs to contribute a fair bit more.
Every big free agent the Magic have signed hasn't worked as planned. I remember that one off season they signed huge contracts with Grant Hill and McGrady, neither were terrible, but they didn't play up to their capabilities. Hill was coming off injury when they signed, and never really recovered to the all star level he was. I forget what happen with McGrady in Orlando, wasn't happy I guess?
T-Mac was the leading PPG scorer for two years at Orlando but then jumped ship to Houston and Grant Hill managed about two seasons of over 65 games with Orlando. The Magic do have Vince Carter's team deal for next year and some tradeable pieces in their locker ( Orton, Gortat, the rights to Vasquez and own all their future draft picks) which they could use to try and get another top FA next summer.
T-Mac surpassed expectations in Orlando. He became what they thought Grant Hill would become but only better. He certainly worked out although I will never understand why they traded him for Cat Mobley and Steve Francis. I remember T-Mac was mad after they traded away his best friend Mike Miller and wanted to leave Orlando.