Measuring the spending of NBA teams in 2013-14: dollars per win (end of year edition)

Well, that’s the end of the regular season. The playoffs are set and will begin very soon. After I measured every team’s efficiency in how well they were spending their money earlier in the season, I promised that I would provide an update at the end of the season. Well, here it is. Most of the teams have similar team salaries to what they did last time, but every team’s win totals have changed (yes, even the Sixers). But have the top 5 and bottom 5 rankings changed since the end of February?

All dollar values are thanks to Hoopshype. Here are the teams, which are ranked in descending order by wins:

San Antonio Spurs: 62 wins
Team Salary: $63,115,911
Dollars/Win: $1,017,998.57

Oklahoma City Thunder: 59 wins
Team Salary: $70,083,121
Dollars/Win: $1,187,849.51

Los Angeles Clippers: 57 wins
Team Salary: $73,049,774
Dollars/Win: $1,281,574.98

Indiana Pacers: 56 wins
Team Salary: $67,182,414
Dollars/Win: $1,199,685.96

Miami Heat: 54 wins
Team Salary: $80,698,486
Dollars/Win: $1,610,083,07

Houston Rockets: 54 wins
Team Salary: $57,769,175
Dollars/Win: $1,069,799.54

Portland Trail Blazers: 54 wins
Team Salary: $61,260,350
Dollars/Win: $1,134,450.93

Golden State Warriors: 51 wins
Team Salary: $72,503,122
Dollars/Win: $1,421,629.84

Memphis Grizzlies: 50 wins
Team Salary: $71,992,885
Dollars/Win: $1,439,857.70

Dallas Mavericks: 49 wins
Team Salary: $67,938,658
Dollars/Win: $1,386,503.22

Phoenix Suns: 48 wins
Team Salary: $55,569,468
Dollars/Win: $1,157,697.25

Toronto Raptors: 48 wins
Team Salary: $71,429,136
Dollars/Win: $1,488,107.00

Chicago Bulls: 48 wins
Team Salary: $73,363,715
Dollars/Win: $1,528,410.73

Washington Wizards: 44 wins
Team Salary: $70,204,382
Dollars/Win: $1,595,554.14

Brooklyn Nets: 44 wins
Team Salary: $102,589,967
Dollars/Win: $2,331,590.16

Charlotte Bobcats: 43 wins
Team Salary: $63,423,075
Dollars/Win: $1,474,955.23

Minnesota Timberwolves: 40 wins
Team Salary: $68,564,040
Dollars/Win: $1,714,101.00

Atlanta Hawks: 38 wins
Team Salary: $61,239,127
Dollars/Win: $1,611,555.97

New York Knicks: 37 wins
Team Salary: $88,188,494
Dollars/Win: $2,383,472.81

Denver Nuggets: 36 wins
Team Salary: $65,782,065
Dollars/Win: $1,827,279.58

New Orleans Pelicans: 34 wins
Team Salary: $67,702,552
Dollars/Win: $1,992,251.53

Cleveland Cavaliers: 33 wins
Team Salary: $66,654,061
Dollars/Win: $2,019,820.03

Detroit Pistons: 29 wins
Team Salary: $62,387,432
Dollars/Win: $2,151,290.76

Sacramento Kings: 28 wins
Team Salary: $62,631,083
Dollars/Win: $2,236,824.39

Los Angeles Lakers: 27 wins
Team Salary: $77,423,614
Dollars/Win: $2,867,541.26

Utah Jazz: 25 wins
Team Salary: $57,329,205
Dollars/Win: $2,293,168.20

Boston Celtics: 25 wins
Team Salary: $70,885,503
Dollars/Win: $2,835,420.12

Orlando Magic: 23 wins
Team Salary: $57,005,699
Dollars/Win: $2,478,508.65

Philadelphia 76ers: 19 wins
Team Salary: $52,168,057
Dollars/Win: $2,745,687.21

Milwaukee Bucks: 15 wins
Team Salary: $54,400,846
Dollars/Win: $3,626,723.07

Once again, the Milwaukee Bucks have the 2nd lowest team salary but the highest dollars/win ratio. Any team that wins under 20 times is going to have an awful ratio no matter how much they spend. It’ll obviously be a lot worse if they spend a lot, but both teams that won under 20 games (76ers and Bucks) were under the salary cap, something that very few teams can say about themselves. But, the Bucks were also the team to decrease their ratio by the most, even though they only won 4 more games since February 27, which is when I made the first analysis.

Top 5 worst ratios

1. Milwaukee Bucks: $3.63 million/win
2. Los Angeles Lakers: $2.87 million/win
3. Boston Celtics: $2.84 million/win
4. Philadelphia 76ers: $2.75 million/win
5. Orlando Magic: $2.48 million/win

Is it fair to say that this list could be renamed the top 5 biggest disappointments of the season? Yes, in terms of spending and economics. Even though the Bucks, 76ers, and Magic were all under the salary cap, they won so few games that it was still considered a waste of money. Yes, there is also a minimum team salary set at about $52.8 million (which the Sixers are actually slightly below for some reason), but any team that wins as little as these teams did in respect to the amount of money they spent can accurately be labeled as disappointments. I would technically call the Lakers the biggest disappointment since they were even over the luxury tax number and still barely won any games, with the Celtics coming in a close second. Either way, these teams need to reevaluate how they run their teams and try a lot harder next year.

Top 5 best ratios

1. San Antonio Spurs: $1.02 million/win
2. Houston Rockets: $1.07 million/win
3. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.13 million/win
4. Phoenix Suns: $1.16 million/win
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.19 million/win

I’d also be tempted to say that these are the top 5 most successful teams this year, but that’s not exactly accurate considering the Suns didn’t make the playoffs. This is largely due to how competitive the Western Conference is, but it’s still crazy to think about. Speaking of the West, all 5 of the most efficient teams in terms of spending are in that conference. Coincidence that they’re the superior conference in terms of winning percentage? No, I think not. Four of the five teams that have the worst ratios are from the East.

Top 5 biggest decreases in ratio

1. New York Knicks: $1.81 million/win
2. Brooklyn Nets: $1.59 million/win
3. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.21 million/win
4. Los Angeles Lakers: $1.20 million/win
5. New Orleans Pelicans: $0.90 million/win

As I explained in the first of these posts, it would be a lot easier for teams with high ratios to decrease it than it would be for teams that already had low ratios. The Bucks decreased their ratio by $1.21 million/win, but the Rockets, who were the team with the best ratio last time, only decreased their ratio by $0.41 million. The Bucks remained as the team with the worst ratio, while the Lakers moved from 3rd to 2nd and the Celtics moved from 5th to 3rd. As for the top 5 best ratios, the Spurs moved up from 3rd to 1st and the Rockets and Trail Blazers each moved down a place. The Suns were added to the list and the Pacers dropped out. The Thunder remained in the 5th position.

The Nets and Knicks both had great endings to their seasons and dropped out of the top 5, decreasing their ratios by $1.59 million/win and $1.81 million/win respectively, the most among any teams in the league. They managed to decrease their ratios by more than some teams ratios were in my last post. The range of the highest to lowest ratio last time was $3.36 million, but this time it’s only $2.61 million.

So, what does this all mean? Well, it shows that spending a ton of money doesn’t always guarantee wins. The Nets spent the most money in the league and are only the 6th seed in the East. The Knicks spent the 2nd most and didn’t even make the playoffs, and neither did the Lakers, who spent the 4th most. But, Portland and Houston were in the bottom 10 in the league in terms of team salary, yet they both made the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. Spending money doesn’t matter, it’s all about getting the most bang for your buck. And that’s what the top 5 teams did.

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