Everyone knows that the summer of 2015 will be a big one for the Portland Trail Blazers. Every player, with the exception of Nicolas Batum, is "off the books." Blazers GM Neil Olshey will likely re-sign LaMarcus Aldridge and pick up Damain Lillard's team option.
That leaves Wesley Matthews one of the two starters without a contract, and many people believe he will earn a pay raise -- one that may be too steep for Olshey to match. Let's take a look through the stats, exploring whether Matthews is worth the pay raise he will likely get.
Win shares give us a simple way to compare Matthews' value to the values of other starting shooting guards to their respective teams. If a team has less wins, the player's win share count will be scaled down (each player's win share count must add up to the team's win total). This means a player may be extremely valuable to his team, but because his team isn't winning very many games, that player's win share count will be lower. In order to alleviate this issue, let's look at win share percentage, calculated by dividing the player's win shares into the team's win total and then multiplying by 100.
Note: I collected the win share totals from Basketball-Reference. Basketball-Reference's formula for calculating win shares is complex (too long to explain here) and is different than NBA.com's formula. Also, all statistics are as of December 13, 2014.
Below is a chart that compares each NBA starter's win share total in alphabetical order. Players that have three asterisks (***) preceding their names have either missed an extended time to injury or are currently injured.
After ordering the list from greatest to least, I removed the players that are below the average win share percentage. The resulting list is displayed in the following chart from greatest win share percentage to least.
Matthews appears to be in the lower tier of these players. Some people might argue that players above Matthews in the previous chart are not as good as Matthews (I'd be one of those people -- K.J. McDaniels, a rookie, is not better or more valuable than Matthews). Keep in mind that win share percentage doesn't measure player skill, but rather the player's significance to his current team. If Kyle Korver was on the Rockets and James Harden was on Atlanta's roster, those players' win share percentage would be different because the player would be more or less valuable to his new team (based on team composition).
Matthews might not be as valuable to his team as the acclaimed elite shooting guards in the league. Considering who he plays with, that's expected. On the other hand, 9th in the NBA isn't bad, especially when you factor in salaries. At $7.2 million per year Matthews makes roughly the same as Arron Afflalo, about $3 million more than Danny Green, half as much as Klay Thompson's new extension will give him, and a third as much as Joe Johnson. Right now that's a great value. There's no doubt Wesley Matthews is worth every penny to the Trail Blazers right now. Will Matthews remain so after raise demands and competition boost his salary?
At what point would Matthews' salary exceed his value to the Blazers? Is the sky the limit for you (anything it takes to re-sign him) or do you perceive a limit beyond which the Blazers should not go. Share in the comment section.