Is John Wall worth the max?

"I guess I'll console myself with these millions of dollars."

“No? I guess I’ll just have to console myself with these millions of dollars.”

 

Since the end of the regular season, there have been rumblings that John Wall is looking for a max extension from the Washington Wizards. Now we hear from various sources — including Marc Stein of ESPN — that the Wizards are working on a contract extension for Wall that is somewhere around $80 million over five years. Is John Wall worth that kind of money?

By the numbers

If we go by Wall’s productivity, the answer is no. Earlier this month, Arturo created a formula that calculates the value of each player based on their past productivity, age, and past minutes played. According to his work, Wall should be worth around $63 million over five years. This means that the Wizards will be overpaying Wall by about $3.5 million a season if they give him the max.

And keep in mind that this is being generous with Wall’s projected minutes. Arturo is projecting Wall to play about 2624 minutes next year; based only on his past playing history, I’d project Wall to play about 2350 minutes, which amounts to 35 minutes per game for 67 games. But even if we are optimistic and combine Arturo’s projected minutes with Wall’s most productive season, Wall still falls short of a max extension, at around $66 million over five years. So it’s safe to say that Wall isn’t worth a max extension based on his productivity alone.

By the market

Perhaps Wall isn’t really worth a max extension, but the market for similar NBA players is upping Wall’s asking price? Let’s compare Wall to some other young guards who have signed contracts or contract extensions in the last couple of seasons (salaries and values in millions of dollars):

Player Avg value before contract Avg salary awarded Avg proj. value, next 5 years Amount under/over paid per year
Ty Lawson 12.1 12 15.9 -3.9
Derrick Rose 11.9 19 13.8 5.0
Stephen Curry 9.4 11 15.3 -4.3
Tyreke Evans 7.7 11 9.1 1.9
Jrue Holiday 7.4 10 12.6 -2.3
John Wall 7.3 16 12.6 3.4
George Hill 6.7 8 12.6 -4.6
Mike Conley 6.5 8 16.0 -8.0
Jeff Teague 5.8 8 11.4 -3.4
Jeremy Lin 3.0 8 5.3 3.1

Before they signed their recent contracts, Lawson, Rose, Curry, Evans, and Holiday all offered more value than John Wall. Yet all these players — except Derrick Rose — were signed to deals that pay them $10-12 million per year. And along with Jeremy Lin, Rose and Wall stand out on this list as overpaid.

[Aside: check out how underpaid Mike Conley is right now!]

We know that NBA salaries are highly influenced by points per game (PPG) numbers — perhaps this would explain Rose’s and Wall’s deals? Yet even when we look at the PPG of all of these players before they signed their contracts, Wall’s potential max deal stands alone:

Player PPG before contract Avg value before contract Average salary
Derrick Rose 20.9 11.9 19
Stephen Curry 17.5 9.4 11
Tyreke Evans 17.5 7.7 11
John Wall 16.9 7.3 16
Ty Lawson 12.0 12.1 12
Jrue Holiday 11.9 7.4 10
Mike Conley 10.9 6.5 8
George Hill 9.8 6.7 8
Jeremy Lin 9.2 3.0 8
Jeff Teague 9.0 5.8 8

While Rose’s large salary and awards were undoubtedly a result of his high scoring average, Wall has not posted particularly impressive PPG numbers. In addition to being more productive than Wall, Curry and Evans also had higher PPG averages leading up to their new contracts. So even if we go by PPG, Wall’s potential deal is excessive.

Conclusion

No, John Wall is not worth the max, regardless of whether we’re talking about his absolute value or his market value. The Wizards should either sign Wall to a four year extension worth $40-$50 million, or hold off until he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season. In the meantime, if Wizards’ management thinks that Wall will get a big offer from another team, they should explore trading him.

- Devin

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