Is NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant Overpaid?

By Chris Shelton

If you created a list of the NBA’s most overrated players how far would you get before you mentioned Kobe Bryant?

If you are a Lakers fan, that name probably never makes this list. It would seem like being a five time NBA championship and a recipient of a MVP award would immune you. Magic Johnson said Bryant is the best all-time Laker.

 Apparently that is not enough for David Berri, a Southern Utah University economics professor who contributes for CNBC.

Berri has Kobe in his top 5. He’s #2 in fact.

Here is Berri’s criterion:

“Wins in basketball are primarily about a team’s ability to get and keep possession of the ball and then turning those possessions into points,” Berri told in an e-mail. “In 2011-12, NBA teams paid $1.9 billion for 990 regular season wins. This means that the cost per win was $1.946 million. Given the cost of each win and knowing both how many victories each player produced and his salary allows us to see which players were overpaid.”

Here is Berri’s list.

10. Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte Bobcats
9. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
8. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

7. Corey Maggette, Charlotte Bobcats

6. Mehmet Okur, Brooklyn Nets

5. Chris Kaman, New Orleans Hornets
4. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
3. Antawn Jamison, Cleveland Cavaliers

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

1. Rashard Lewis, Washington Wizards
For the most part, the Utah economist’s list is spot-on.

Rashad Lewis’s contract may be the worst of all time. Why the brass in Seattle believed Lewis, a Houston native, was a max player still befuddles me to this day. At one point Lewis was making more than Dwight Howard as a role player. His agent needs a medal because Lewis is still stealing money.  

Tyrus Thomas has been overrated since college. I have always preferred his LSU teammate, “Big Baby” Davis, on both levels of competition.  

What happened to Corey Maggette and Chris Kaman? Oh yeah, they got paid and disappeared.

Even big names like Deron Williams and Amar’e Stoudemire deserve to make this list. Stoudemire’s injuries have begun to weigh him down. Stoudemire has had knee surgery on both knees, and many believe that micro-fracture surgery is a temporary fix.

Williams just hasn’t been as good the past two years. He has the talent and potential to rebound. I expect him to have a stronger season once Dwight Howard makes his way to Brooklyn.

His reasoning, on the surface, is solid and his math is valid but his list is missing some key factors.

 It is incomplete.

There are other factors that go into a player’s salary and a team winning that Berri doesn’t touch.

Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are not overpaid…..yet. They will be after next year when the Lakers’ star is due 32 million and Nowitzki will make 22.7 million.

Without their sharp shooting big man, the Mavericks would have been terrible; no way they garner a playoff berth.

Bryant is, at times, a ball hog, but his presence and standard of hard work for himself do so much to help LA succeed.

Think about ticket sales and interest generated throughout the city.

You don’t sell out the Staples Center with Ron Artest as your best wing player. Los Angeles is a star-driven town. If you do not keep them interested, they watch beach volleyball or go to the beach with a baby doll.   

Also, the shots that Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant get their teammates contributes highly to winning. Jason Terry and Andrew Bynum get better looks and less attention due to the presence of a superstar on their respective roster.

A superstar opens things up on offense. Berri’s list doesn’t account for that.

If you enjoyed this article you can read more on my author page here. Also, follow me on twitter @ChrissheltonRS for more sports takes.

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