LeBron’s value to the Cavaliers on the court was even bigger than his paycheck

The 2017-2018 regular season looked chaotic from start to finish, but it ended with one of the best playoff performances we have ever seen from LeBron James. The Cavaliers were marred by injuries, but LeBron and co. still managed to secure a 50 win season.

So how well did each individual player contribute to the success of the Cavaliers?

Cleveland - win-share

By looking at win-shares (primer here), we can see an informed estimate to the total contribution an individual makes to their team’s success. From that, we can also calculate (methodology here) and compare each player’s salary to the $ value they produced for the team.

Cleveland - Player Salary vs Productivity

So what can we learn from the data? LeBron had a total productivity value of $38.3 million, $5 million higher than his actual salary that year. Kevin Love’s win-share dropped more than expected mainly due to his injuries, and as a result his productivity was $5 million less than his salary.

But what about JR Smith and Tristan Thompson? Ty Lue’s frequent rotation changes had an effect on both of them, and George Hill couldn’t live up to his contract either.

Nance massively overperformed this season, adding a production value 10x his salary contribution, although we should keep in mind a big reason for that was his contributions to the Lakers earlier in the season.

Jeff Green and Kyle Korver also overperformed, with Green performing 5x better than what he was being paid and Korver adding a production value of over $2 million more than he was being paid.

Now that LeBron is gone and the Colin Sexton era begins, what should Cleveland do? Larry Nance’s contract is about to expire and they should consider giving him a raise.



Name Win-share 2017-18 Salary $ value of productivity
Lebron James 14.00 $33,285,709.00 $38,285,132.91
Kevin Love 6.4 $22,642,350.00 $17,501,775.04
George Hill 3.20 $20,000,000.00 $8,750,887.52
Tristan Thompson 2.50 $16,400,000.00 $6,836,630.88
J.R. Smith 1.40 $13,760,000.00 $3,828,513.29
Jordan Clarkson 3.00 $11,562,500.00 $8,203,957.05
Kyle Korver 3.40 $7,000,000.00 $9,297,817.99
Cedi Osman 0.90 $2,642,857.00 $2,461,187.12
Rodney Hood 2.70 $2,386,864.00 $7,383,561.35
Jose Calderon 1.80 $2,328,652.00 $4,922,374.23
Jeff Green 3.90 $2,116,955.00 $10,665,144.17
Ante Zizic 1.00 $1,645,200.00 $2,734,652.35
Larry Nance 5.80 $1,471,382.00 $15,860,983.63
Okaro White 0.20 $37,079.00 $546,930.47

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