10 Best Dollar-for-Dollar Contracts in the NBA Heading into 2012-13 Season
Professional sports are becoming a world full of athletes who are overpaid to underperform, and the NBA certainly isn't excluded from that.
While there are plenty of overpaid players, like Joe Johnson, there are also players that give their teams much production for their money.
Guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Ty Lawson and Brandon Jennings consistently put up All-Star-caliber production for a third of the cost of high-level stars in the NBA—and they aren't alone.
Ahead is a list of the 10 best dollar-for-dollar contracts in the NBA as we head into the 2012-13 season.
Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets
2012-13 Salary: $2,544,528
2011-12 Stats: 16.4 PPG, 6.6 APG, 3.7 RPG, 19.43 PER
Ty Lawson showed the entire world just what kind of player he is last year in the playoffs when he helped the Denver Nuggets nearly knock off Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers in the first round.
Lawson's agility and speed alone is worth the $2.5 million he's making this upcoming season. His speed is what sets him apart, and it's what is going to earn him a lot of money when he becomes a restricted free agent next offseason.
The fact that he can do more than run a transition offense with impressive efficiency makes him a valuable point guard. His average of 16.4 points per game is definitely deserving of a raise, and it doesn't stop there. He's a tenacious defender, averaging 1.5 steals per game last season.
The Nuggets will definitely have to fork over the big bucks to keep Lawson in Denver.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
2012-13 Salary: $3,179,493
2011-12 Stats: 19.1 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 18.46 PER
Brandon Jennings has been an absolute workhorse since he's entered the league. In his three years in the NBA, he's accumulated averages of 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game, on his way to being one of the most underrated players in the entire league.
While Jennings doesn't provide the Bucks with mature leadership, he certainly provides them with explosive production at the point.
He leads with his play and the intensity he brings to the court, and that's going to help him earn a much bigger paycheck next season, as he is set for restricted free agency at season's end.
With a veteran to lead him, Jennings can be the kind of player that helps a team become a title contender. The Bucks better enjoy his production this year, because they are going to need a lot more than the $3.1 million to retain him past the 2012-13 season.
Antawn Jamison, PF, L.A. Lakers
2012-13 Salary: $1,352,181
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 16.17 PER
Last season, Antawn Jamison was getting paid $15 million to put up impressive numbers. This season, the Lakers will be paying him $13.5 million less to do the same.
While he won't get near the same minutes with the Lakers as he did with the Cavaliers, he's the virtually exact same player that he was last year. He's still a veteran leader with impressive post moves and an ability to spread the floor. And getting his talents for a little over $1 million a season is absolutely amazing.
Jamison will have to transition his starting talents to the bench, as he'll be asked to bolster the Lakers' second unit, but he's mature enough to do that.
Jamison could be earning a lot more money, but he's traded that for a chance at an NBA title—a shot he certainly does deserves.
Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls
2012-13 Salary: $2,155,811
2011-12 Stats: 7.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 BLKPG
Taj Gibson isn't on the same level as a lot of the other players on this list, but that's only because he doesn't get the starter minutes that they do.
Averaging just 20.4 minutes per game, it's impressive that Gibson was able to put up the production that he did last season. Further, he brings an unstoppable motor and an intensity to the court that a lot of other players lack.
Now that Omer Asik is off to Houston, with his increased playing time, putting up 10-plus points and eight-plus rebounds per game isn't out of the question for Gibson. And that production is worth more than the $2.1 million they will be paying him next season.
Elton Brand, PF, Dallas Mavericks
2012-13 Salary: $2,100,000
2011-12 Stats: 11.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.6 BLKPG
While a lot of fans and experts liked to bash Brand last season, it wasn't because he wasn't playing well—it was because he was getting vastly overpaid.
Now that he's earning just over $2 million, Brand's production is going to be a steal—especially for a team like the Dallas Mavericks, who seriously need a post presence.
Not only does Brand bring legitimate post production to the Mavericks, he also brings veteran leadership, something they lost with the departure of Jason Terry and Jason Kidd this offseason.
DeMarcus Cousins, F-C, Sacramento Kings
2012-13 Salary: $3,880,800 million
2011-12 Stats: 18.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.2 BLKPG
DeMarcus Cousins doesn't get near the respect he deserves. In his sophomore campaign, he put up double-double averages, all while shooting an impressive 44.8 percent from the field.
Sure, he's a bit undisciplined and immature at times, but there's no denying the fact that getting All-Star production for just $3.8 million is quite a feat.
If the Kings aren't interested in paying Cousins All-Star numbers in the future, they need to explore trade options, as there are quite a few teams that would pay a pretty penny for his kind of production in the frontcourt.
Cousins is outplaying a number of his better-compensated peers, and he's only going to get better with time. The Kings better enjoy it now, because paying just under $4 million for Cousins' talents will be a thing of the past in no time.
Ray Allen, SG, Miami Heat
2012-13 Salary: $3,090,000 million
2011-12 Stats: 14.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Well, $3.1 million for the talents of the best three-point shooter in NBA history isn't a bad deal at all. It's an even better deal when you consider that he'll be playing with three of the best players in the league.
He might not be the same player he was a few years ago, but put him in the corner, or draw up some offensive sets for him, and you'll get a solid 10-plus points an outing.
Though Allen is 37 now, he still has the ability to light up the scoreboard. There are a number teams who are paying much more for players who don't shoot anywhere close to the 40 percent career mark that Allen does.
DeJuan Blair, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 Salary: $1,054,000 million
2011-12 Stats: 9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 17.61 PER
Playing for the San Antonio Spurs has its perks. From getting to learn from an all-time great in Gregg Popovich to getting mentored by future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair certainly has no shortage of resources around him.
The one thing he doesn't have in San Antonio, though, is a lot of cash. Luckily for the Spurs, however, that hasn't kept Blair from putting up quality production in the starting lineup.
What makes Blair such a special player is how well he understands the game. His basketball IQ and effort alone are worth a good deal more than he's making, but it'll all come soon enough, as Blair will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2012-13 season.
The Spurs got an absolute gift when Blair fell to them early in the second round of the 2009 draft. They got a talented player who's willing to work no matter how much money he's making. And that's something you can't put a price tag on.
Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
2012-13 Salary: $2,674,851 million
2011-12 Stats: 13.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.3 RPG
Losing Lou Williams will certainly hurt the Philadelphia 76ers, but when you're paying a player just over $2.5 million for 13.5 points and 4.5 assists per game, there's no need to keep any redundancies.
While he must mature into a more consistent and efficient player this season, Jrue Holiday is only going to get better simply by virtue of having more playing time without Williams around.
Holiday will also be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and that will be all the motivation he needs going forward. Holiday is a much better point guard than his $2.6 million salary suggests, and we'll see that clearer than ever this year.
MarShon Brooks, SG, Brooklyn Nets
2012-13 Salary: $1,193,280 million
2011-12 Stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.3 APG
MarShon Brooks might be the product of a team without many star players, but his 12.6 PPG production is a steal for the $1.2 million that the Nets will pay him this year.
Brooks has a lot he needs to work on, but right now, he's one of the more prolific shooters coming off the bench across the entire league.
With Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez already on the Nets' books, the team desperately needs players like Brooks.
Don't be shocked when Brooks' name is thrown around in the Most Improved Player conversation at season's end.