Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
When Bill Simmons wrote at Grantland last week that Nikola Vucevic has the 11th-best bargain contract in the NBA, he was not just whistling Dixie. Not only is Vucevic averaging a double-double (12.3 ppg and 11.4 rpg), he’s also shown the capacity to put up huge numbers (just ask the Miami Heat). And the kicker is that he’s doing it all for $1.7 million this season.
Simmons breaks down his bargains, but I tend to think there are only two real types of value contracts in the landscape of the new CBA: 1.) a superstar on a max contract like LeBron James or Kevin Durant and 2.) a player on a rookie-scale contract that’s already a stud — guys like Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis come to mind immediately.
Vucevic definitely belongs in the second category. I think the best way to realize his ridiculous value is to compare his production with those around him and then find out what his contemporaries are getting paid.
For instance, right now Vucevic has a Player Efficiency Rating (17.4) that’s on par with Emeka Okafor (16.3) and DeAndre Jordan (16.8), who make $13.5 million and $10.5 million respectively. Vucevic, I repeat, makes $1.7 million this season and is putting up comparable numbers when examining all three players side-by-side. That alone shows that Vucevic is a bargain for the Orlando Magic.