Philadelphia 76ers: Overpaid or underpaid?

Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris | Sixers Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris | Sixers Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Which Philadelphia 76ers are living up to their contracts? We all know Tobias Harris is overpaid, but where does the rest of the team fall?

The NBA is a strange place for contracts. Veterans like Tobias Harris can make $34 million for this season while youngsters like Shake Milton only make $1.7 million for the year  (“only make $1.7 million” is a strange thing to type). Harris is making 20 times as much as Milton even though you could argue Milton has been as valuable as Harris for the Philadelphia 76ers. But how can contract value be measured?

The average NBA team salary is $128 million and the average team will win 36 games in this shortened 72 game season. This means that each win is worth about $3.5 million. Because Embiid makes $29.5 million, he needs to contribute at least 8.3 wins to be worth his contract.

Wins contributed are taken from basketball reference’s win shares. While win shares is not a perfect metric, it does a decent job of estimating how much a player contributes to the team. Keep in mind, this is how much a player has contributed to this point, so these values will change over the rest of the season.  Using this, let’s measure the value of each Sixer relative to his contract, ranging from significantly overpaid (Tobias) to significantly underpaid (Shake).

Sixers contract value: Significantly overpaid

Tobias Harris ($15.1 million overpaid)

Ouch. Unsurprisingly, Harris is the most overpaid Sixer. While Harris has played pretty well this season, he will probably never be able to live up to his 5-year, $180 million contract. Harris makes about $33.5 million this year but is only worth about $18.4 million, around what fellow above-average starters like Aaron Gordon and Myles Turner make.

Ben Simmons ($14.5 million overpaid)

This feels a bit too high for Ben Simmons, although he has struggled so far this season. Win shares struggle to capture defensive ability accurately, which may be why Simmons is viewed as significantly overpaid. Also, Simmons could easily go on a tear for a month and return to a positive-value contract.

However, now that Simmons is off his rookie deal and makes $29.5 million, it will be difficult to live up to that value. For what it is worth, if Simmons played at the level he did last season, he would be viewed as slightly underpaid even with his current contract.