The Portland Trailblazers aren’t Receiving Much Value from their Biggest Contracts

Portland’s season ended in a sweep against the New Orleans Pelicans, but along the way we saw an MVP-type performance from Damian Lillard all season, that propelled him to being one of the top guards in the NBA, if he wasn’t there already.

While Lillard performed well, how did his teammates fare?

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.

Portland - Salary vs productivity

Lillard outperformed his contract by a comparative productivity of around $4 million. CJ McCollum, on the other hand, could not keep up and actually ended up being less of a factor of the team’s overall success.

And that’s true as well for the biggest contracts the team has. Turner, Harkless and Leonard all performed substantially worse than their compensation, but the latter two mainly due to injuries.

The good news? The younger players stepped up, with Ed Davis and Nurkic leading the way.

But there’s a huge problem right now for Trailblazers fans. The team decided to depart with Ed Davis in favour of the less performing Nurkic. Another casualty was Shabazz Napier, who performed well in key minutes.

Portland’s contract situation is only going to continue to get worse if they stay in the luxury tax with these bad contracts.


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