Cost/Efficiency Analysis: Centers


We have finally reached the point I am sure everyone is curious about. How much value are the Magic getting out of Dwight Howard compared to his salary? What is his cost/efficiency ratio?

We will get to Howard’s number in a moment. But we know that number is not going to accurately define Howard’s impact ont he floor.

Jason Fleming of HoopsWorld had an interesting project in analyzing cost-efficiency by dividing a player’s salary by his PER. It revealed a small detail into what players actually are worth to their teams and whether the player is actually worth that number.

But we already know Howard already has a pretty high value. You are not going to be able to properly quantify how much Howard means to the Magic. Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy built both their offense and defense around Howard.

PER does not accurately assess defensive impact. This is where Howard really REALLY earns his keep. For the past four years, he has turned average (at best) defenders into one of the best defensive teams in the league. No one would say Orlando has stellar perimeter defenders on its roster. Except Dwight Howard keeps the paint completely clear — and Stan Van Gundy does a good job scheming to take advantage of Howard’s ability.

With that in mind, Fleming calculated Howard to have a $637,823 cost-efficiency. That puts him 21st out of starting centers in the league. That does not sound so good.

But this efficiency metric does not rate superstars very highly. Simply no one compares to Howard in the NBA right now. Howard was second in the league in PER this year.

He is truly in a class of his own. And those kinds of players, you pay whatever is necessary. Howard is worth much more than $637,823 per PER point. Much more. Really, incalculably more.

Want proof? There is a reason I used the adjective “incalculably.” It is really really tough to quantify Dwight Howard’s importance to the Magic — that is why he should have been MVP this past year. But that is just one humble man’s opinion. I am sure most Magic fans would agree with that sentiment too.

Really the only way to compare Dwight’s cost-efficiency is to compare his efficiency this year to the other seasons since he signed his extension beginning in 2008.


In 2009, Howard had a 25.4 PER and a $13.758 million salary. His cost-efficiency ratio that season was $541,654. In 2010, Howard posted a 24.0 PER and had a $15.2 million salary. His cost efficiency rating that year was $633,441.

You can see the number progressively has gone up over the life of the contract. That is to be expected as Dwight matures. Both his salary and his efficiency are going to increase, you would think.

Orlando is getting exactly what they paid for and more from Howard. Comparable elite stars like LeBron James posted similar numbers. James had a $531,136 cost-efficiency ratio. James, remember, took a paycut to play in Miami. Last year, Kobe Bryant had a cost-efficiency ratio over $1 million. NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki posted a cost-efficiency ratio of $738,402.

Howard compares well with the other stars in this league.

Again, Orlando is getting what it paid for.

For those that are curious, Marcin Gortat compared favorably too. His 17.8 PER had him $355,187 per PER rating. Apparently Gortat did need more playing time to find success. His PER in Orlando was only 13.7. If he had kept up that pace, his cost-efficiency would have been $461,483. Again, not a horrible number. Again, Gortat likely needed opportunity more than anything to become truly worth his contract. He is just one of those player.

All things said, Dwight Howard sure makes any center position look good. Looking at the other centers in the league makes you really appreciate what Howard gives this team.

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