Cost per win - NBA season so far - odds and salaries

By Max Bennett

November 25, 2022

Image Courtesy of Alamy

There is a great line towards the end of the movie Moneyball where Red Sox owner John Henry (Arliss Howard) says to Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt):

"You won the exact same number of games as the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent $1.4 million per win, you spent $260,000"

It's one of our favourite lines in one of our favourite sports movies, and it tells a story of how a low budget team could deliver results that matched the very biggest of global sports franchises.

So we thought it would be rather fun to apply the same rationale to the 2022-23 NBA Season to date - which teams have the lowest cost per win, and can anyone get close to the Lakers for highest cost per win!

We've crunched the numbers, in a similar way to our Cost per Expected NBA Championship article, and we've come up with some possibly surprising results!

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By looking at total annual salary per team (as published by the excellent ESPN), the number of games played per team so far, the proportion of annual salary spent per team (based on 82 game regular season for each team), and then the number of wins per team - we can calculate the proportionate cost per win per team. We then ranked them from #1 (lowest) to #30 (highest - and it's not the Lakers!)

The full table is further down this page but the headlines show us:

  • No team has a Salary Cost per Win of less than $2M

  • The team with the lowest cost per win is the Indiana Pacers, who have paid $2.1M per win so far.

  • The NBA Championship Betting favourites of Celtics and Bucks (both available at odds of 6.00 both fare quite well in this ranking. Celtics are 5th on $2.8M per win, Bucks are 9th on $3.1M

  • Last years NBA Championship winners, Golden State Warriors are ranked 25th with a Salary Cost per Win of $5.1M

  • The Lakers are the worst of the big spending teams, with the 6th highest salary cost, and ranked 29th with a Salary Cost per Win of almost $7M

  • Rock bottom are the Rockets, frankly when you have 3 wins all season, you can be paying peanuts in salary and still have the worst salary per win costs, which they do at $7M.

Salary Cost per Win - 2022-23 NBA Season to date

Team (W-L)Annual SalarySalary to dateCost per Win
#1 Pacers (10-7)$101.5M$21.0M$2.1M
#2 Grizzlies (10-8)$110.1M$24.1M$2.4M
#3 Cavaliers (12-6)$152.9M$33.6M$2.8M
#4 Kings (10-7)$135.0M$28.0M$2.8M
#5 Celtics (14-4)$181.5M$39.8M$2.8M
#6 Jazz (12-8)$142.2M$34.7M$2.9M
#7 Pelicans (11-7)$152.6M$33.5M$3.0M
#8 Spurs (6-13)$79.4M$18.4M$3.1M
#9 Bucks (12-5)$182.2M$37.8M$3.1M
#10 Nuggets (11-7)$160.7M$35.3M$3.2M
#11 Hawks (11-7)$162.5M$35.7M$3.2M
#12 Suns (11-6)$173.8M$36.0M$3.3M
#13 T'Wolves (10-8)$150.1M$33.1M$3.3M
#14 Wizards (10-8)$154.8M$34.0M$3.4M
#15 Knicks (9-9)$144.2M$31.7M$3.6M
#16 Thunder (7-11)$113.6M$24.9M$3.6M
#17 Blazers (10-8)$165.0M$36.2M$3.6M
#18 76ers (9-9)$152.1M$33.4M$3.7M
#19 Mavericks (9-8)$165.0M$34.2M$3.8M
#20 Raptors (9-9)$156.4M$34.3M$3.8M
#21 Bulls (8-10)$149.6M$32.9M$4.1M
#22 Clippers (11-8)$200M$46.1M$4.2M
#23 Heat (8-11)$150.1M$34.8M$4.3M
#24 Nets (9-10)$181.1M$42.0M$4.7M
#25 GSW (9-10)$196.3M$45.5M$5.1M
#26 Hornets (5-14)$114.7M$26.6M$5.3M
#27 Pistons (5-15)$114.0M$27.8M$5.6M
#28 Magic (5-13)$128.3M$36.0M$5.6M
#29 Lakers (5-11)$177.3M$34.6M$6.9M
#30 Rockets (3-14)$100.8M$20.9M$7.0M

If we replayed that Moneyball John Henry, Billy Beane conversation in an NBA movie it might go something like this, with Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard chatting to Nets owner Joseph Tsai:

"You won a game more than the Warriors, but the Warriors spent $5.1 million per win, you spent $2.1 million, here's your offer."

That's a movie we'd like to see, over to you Brad.

Team (W-L)Odds Oct 11Odds Oct 31Odds Nov 14Odds Nov 25
Celtics (14-4)
Bucks (12-5)7.506.006.006.50
GSW (9-10)
Suns (11-6)10.009.508.009.00
Clippers (11-8)

Odds courtesy of PlayUp

Odds and Salaries correct at time of publishing.

By Max Bennett  | 11/25/22

Follow Max Bennett on Twitter at @MaxBTheJumpHub

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