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Berri: Spencer Hawes Might Be the Most Overpaid Player in the League in 2011

Dave Berri, winsome econ professor at the delightful Southern Utah University, co-writer of The Wages of Wins and author of the Wages of Wins Journal, looks into his crystal ball and predicts a King might take the mantle as the league's most overpaid player in 2011.

Beyond 2010, though, a new name will emerge.  O’Neal will probably take a pay cut after this season.  This means a player like Andrea Bargnani, Al Thornton, or Spencer Hawes could rise up and take a future MOP title.  Once again, though, that probably won’t happen until 2011. 

This is a Berri who has just spent some 1,400 words spreading the revolutionary message that Chris Paul is bargain on the rookie scale (what!) and Jermaine O'Neal is substantially overpaid (what! what!). More than a thousand words capably building those incredibly obvious judgments ... and, like, less than a sentence telling us why oh why Sir Spencer Hawes will be making too much money in 2011.

Bethlehem Shoals has properly adjudicated Berri on the matters of Paul and O'Neal. (By "properly adjudicated" I mean "butchered with a sharp hatchet.") So let's turn to Hawes.

Through the magic of math, we actually know Spencer Hawes's 2011 salary! It will be $2.9 million. This is because of something called the "rookie scale," which most NBA experts and (I assume) all authors who write books about basketball are familiar with. Hawes was drafted in the first round in 2007, and the rookie scale dictates salary for four seasons. 2007+4=2011. Math! Magick!

This season, according to Berri's (debatable) metrics, O'Neal was overpaid by $24 million. At a salary of $3 million (we'll round it in Berri's favor for simplicity), Hawes would need to produce negative 12 wins in 2011. Hawes, according to Berri's debatable metrics, produced negative 0.021 wins produced per 48 minutes played. Let's assume, for kicks, Hawes somehow becomes half as good as he is today, despite being a burgeoning 21-year-old center. So let's say in 2011 Hawes has a WP48 of negative 0.042. How many minutes would he need to play to produce negative 12 wins?

13,714 minutes, according to my calculations. I'm no economics professor, of course, but I find it unlikely that not only will Spencer Hawes be half as good as he is today in 2011, but that he will play 13,714 minutes in the 2011 season. In fact, I think it's pretty close to impossible any player could play 13,714 minutes in the 2011 season! Let alone such an awful, overpaid player.

As such, I don't believe it possible that Spencer Hawes has any chance of being the most overpaid player in the NBA in 2011. But again, I'm not an economics professor.