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The NBA Value All-Stars: The Tyreses, Chet Holmgren, & Nikola Jokić

From maximum contracts to players still on rookie deals, Boardroom breaks down the NBA players that carry the most value relative to their current salaries.

With the holiday season upon us, who doesn’t love a good value deal when shopping for presents? Well, NBA general managers feel the same when they sign a player who outperforms his contract.

The difference here is that consumers are presented with sales left and right so they don’t miss out. GMs, however, don’t get told where the value is; they have to find it. And it’s not just during free agency, either. Value is an all-year goal and an obsession for NBA front offices. This is why so much emphasis is placed on finding cheap contributors via the draft and on the margins. It’s how front offices build championship teams.

So, that begs the question: Which players in the NBA currently carry the most value for the 2023-24 season? Thanks to Spotrac’s handy NBA Value Rankings, in which a mathematical comparison of players’ current salaries against their cumulative “production points” is used to determine a “true value score,” we now know.

Some are expected; some are surprising. Boardroom lays it out below.

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NOTE: All rankings and numbers/stats associated with them were as of games played through Dec. 21.

The NBA Value All-Stars: Guard

1. Tyrese Haliburton

Team: Indiana Pacers
AAV: $4,469,749
GP%: 90.91
PROD/GP: 49.95
TVS: 100.00

The most valuable guard per Spotrac’s TVS metric last season has taken his game to a new level in 2023-24, so it’s no surprise to see him leading the way among his guard counterparts.

Haliburton is well on his way to a second All-Star selection behind career-high numbers across the board — 24.3 points, 12 assists, and four rebounds per game on nearly 50% shooting (40.9% from downtown on nearly nine attempts per game). However, the most impressive thing about Haliburton’s game thus far this year hasn’t been any of that. It’s been the way he’s controlling games, finishing multiple contests with double-digit assists while not turning the ball over once.

The fourth-year guard signed a five-year, $205.9 million extension over the summer, which will kick in next season. So, to maintain his value, he’ll have to pick up his play even more, but with the way Haliburton has improved year over year, maybe it should be expected.

2. Tyrese Maxey

Team: Philadelphia 76ers
AAV: $3,038,140
GP%: 95.65
PROD/GP: 42.58
TVS: 100.00

The biggest winner from the James Harden trade might be Tyrese Maxey.

Maxey has thrived in his first opportunity to play the lead role with Philadelphia and might be an early frontrunner for Most Improved Player. Like Haliburton, the blur of a guard has also taken his game up a notch by scoring 26.1 points and 6.7 points per game. If he can maintain this production, the former Kentucky Wildcat should be rewarded with his first All-Star appearance of his young career.

Maxey was in the same draft class as Haliburton, making him eligible for a similar rookie contract extension this last summer. However, the Harden situation prevented him and the Sixers from reaching a deal at the time, but with that now resolved, it is expected the two sides will reach an agreement without much haggling.

3. Desmond Bane

Team: Memphis Grizzlies
AAV: $2,486,231
GP%: 95.65
PROD/GP: 38.95
TVS: 99.95

Memphis has certainly gotten the most bang for its buck out of Desmond Bane. In addition to having one of the coolest names in the league, Bane has exceeded expectations as the 30th pick in the same draft as his counterparts above, becoming a sniper from distance while increasing his scoring output with each passing season. He currently pours in 24.9 points per game for the Grizzlies.

Thanks to his overachieving play, Bane secured the bag to the tune of a five-year, $197.23 million extension, which will kick in next season.

The NBA Value All-Stars: Forward

1. Scottie Barnes

Team: Toronto Raptors
AAV: $8,266,165
GP%: 100.00
PROD/GP: 42.75
TVS: 100.00

Playing in his third NBA season, Scottie Barnes is nearing a contract extension that will likely rival his counterparts thanks to his improved play as a scorer and playmaker. With multiple teammates rumored to be on the trading block, Barnes appears to be the future in Toronto, and with the ball in his hands more this season than ever, he’s certainly playing as if that’s the case.

Barnes entered the league as a well-rounded player, but shooting was never his strong suit. However, nearly doubling the number of 3-point attempts he took in his first two seasons and converting on nearly 40% of them has unlocked a new threat to his game where opposing defenders are forced to at least think about respecting the deep shot.

It’ll be interesting to see if Barnes can maintain this level of value at a higher price tag in the coming seasons.

2. Domantas Sabonis

Team: Sacramento Kings
AAV: $18,725,000
GP%: 100.00
PROD/GP: 43.93
TVS: 99.63

This is the first player on this list who isn’t playing out his first league contract, with Sabonis in the final year of a four-year, $77 million deal he signed with the Pacers before being traded to Sacramento in February 2022. That said, Sabonis will come at a higher cost starting next season after negotiating an extension with the Kings over the summer that will pay him an average salary of $46,504,000 annually through 2027-28.

One of the better creators at his position, Sabonis has helped push the Kings into contention in the Western Conference with his 18.7 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game this season.

3. Lauri Markkanen

Team: Utah Jazz
AAV: $16,867,727
GP%: 75.00
PROD/GP: 37.96
TVS: 99.46

Lauri Markkanen has been a pleasant surprise in the Utah Jazz rebuild after trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. After starting his career in Chicago and a brief stint in Cleveland, Markkanen has found a home in Utah, becoming a foundational piece for the Jazz to build around.

With a partially guaranteed final year of his contract next season, Markkanen could use this season to present his case for a hefty pay raise in the near future. Despite missing eight games already due to a hamstring strain, he’s averaging 23.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

The NBA Value All-Stars: Center

1. Alperun Şengün

Team: Houston Rockets
AAV: $3,887,744
GP%: 100.00
PROD/GP: 39.77
TVS: 99.99

How ironic that the player they affectionately call Baby Jokić is just ahead of the actual one.

Şengün, who has superb vision and passing ability at his size, doesn’t become a restricted free agent until 2025 after the team exercised the option on his contract to keep him in Houston. The 21-year-old’s cap hit next season will be just $5,424,654, meaning we can expect to see Şengün’s name on this list for a minute.

2. Nikola Jokić

Team: Denver Nuggets
AAV: $55,224,526
GP%: 96.15
PROD/GP: 57.82
TVS: 98.58

Last year, the two-time MVP was already one of the players who carried the most value at his old AAV of $29,542,010. With his new deal having kicked in, it would be tough for most players to maintain that same value at the new number, but Jokić isn’t most players.

Still playing at a ridiculous level — 26.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game– his TVS hardly changed despite his AAV increasing by over $25 million.

3. Chet Holmgren

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
AAV: $11,222,312
GP%: 100.00
PROD/GP: 34.77
TVS: 97.73

While Victor Wembanyama has deservedly garnered much of this year’s rookie class attention, Chet Holmgren is stealing the show.

Meant to be in the 2022-23 class before a preseason injury sidelined him for the season, Holmgren is back on the court and reminding folks why the Thunder took him second overall. Also still just 21 and playing in his first NBA season, the Gonzaga product is casually averaging 17.2 points and 7.9 rebounds while fitting in seamlessly with a growing OKC core.

We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet: his swarming defense. The dude is sitting in the top five in the NBA by swatting away 2.7 shots per game, including a season-high nine blocks — five in the third quarter alone — against the defending champion Nuggets last weekend.

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Top 10 By Position

Guard

t-1. Tyrese Haliburton
t-1. Tyrese Maxey
3. Desmond Bane
4. Anthony Edwards (99.44)
5. Luka Dončić (99.10)
6. LaMelo Ball (98.69)
7. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (97.61)
8. Cam Thomas (96.98)
9. Donovan Mitchell (96.08)
10. Dejounte Murray (94.81)

Forward

1. Scottie Barnes
2. Domantas Sabonis
3. Lauri Markkanen
4. Jalen Johnson (98.96)
5. Jayson Tatum (98.92)
6. Evan Mobley (98.48)
7. Paolo Banchero (96.96)
8. Miles Bridges (96.42)
9. Franz Wagner (96.22)
10. Kelly Oubre Jr. (94.41)

Center

1. Alperun Şengün
2. Nikola Jokić
3. Chet Holmgren
4. Mark Williams (96.46)
5. Jalen Duren (95.17)
6. Joel Embiid (92.22)
7. Victor Wembanyama (90.45)
8. Anthony Davis (86.07)
9. Goga Bitadze (85.90)
10. Santi Aldama (78.43)

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