NBA rank: Which teams get the best bang for their buck?

NBA rank: Which teams get the best bang for their buck?

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NBA rank: Which teams get the best bang for their buck?

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Much was made about Golden State Warriors winning the championship while having the biggest payroll in the NBA this year, but it’s actually only the fifth time since 1990 that the team with the highest payroll won the championship that same year, per our research. The other highest-spending champions since 1990 were the Bulls (1997 and 1998), Lakers (2010) and Cavaliers (2016).

At the same time, there’s no denying big spenders tend to have more on-court success than teams with low-spending owners.

But to what extent?

For that purpose, we compiled data on where teams ranked in player salaries each year since 1990 and how well they performed on the court.

We awarded every team an NBA rank for each season based on how far they made it to the playoffs and their regular-season record. A champion obviously gets first place while the runner-up gets second. No. 3 goes to the loser of the Conference Finals who had the best regular-season record and No. 5 to the second-round loser with the best regular-season record – and so on.

We averaged out the numbers and ranked the teams by who had the best bang for their buck. Unsurprisingly, franchises with reputations for being well-managed rank in the Top 3 while turmoil-ridden clubs who have often spent frivolously and without a plan rank near the bottom.

Fine, we’ll just come right out and say it: The New York Knicks finished last in these rankings. Anyone shocked?

Check out the rest of the results below.

1
Utah Jazz

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 18.50
Average NBA ranking: 10.41

Difference: +8.09

2
San Antonio Spurs

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 13.25
Average NBA ranking: 7.66

Difference: +5.59

3
Oklahoma City Thunder

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 16.66
Average NBA ranking: 12.53

Difference: +4.13

4
Charlotte Hornets

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 21.57
Average NBA ranking: 17.80

Difference: +3.77

5
Chicago Bulls

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 17.25
Average NBA ranking: 13.97

Difference: +3.28

6
Houston Rockets

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 15.00
Average NBA ranking: 12.28

Difference: +2.72

7
Indiana Pacers

Average salary ranking: 14.22
Average NBA ranking: 11.88

Difference: +2.34

8
Atlanta Hawks

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 17.78
Average NBA ranking: 15.47

Difference: +2.31

9
Denver Nuggets

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 18.25
Average NBA ranking: 16.16

Difference: +2.09

10
Detroit Pistons

Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORK

Average salary ranking: 17.50
Average NBA ranking: 15.44

Difference: +2.06

11
Phoenix Suns

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 15.50
Average NBA ranking: 13.47

Difference: +2.03

12
Los Angeles Clippers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 18.19
Average NBA ranking: 17.19

Difference: +1.00

13
Toronto Raptors

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 16.85
Average NBA ranking: 16.37

Difference: +0.48

14
Boston Celtics

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 12.78
Average NBA ranking: 12.50

Difference: +0.28

15
Miami Heat

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 11.84
Average NBA ranking: 11.81

Difference: +0.03

16
Sacramento Kings

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 18.63
Average NBA ranking: 18.97

Difference: -0.34

17
Milwaukee Bucks

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Average salary ranking: 16.06
Average NBA ranking: 16.59

Difference: -0.53

18
Memphis Grizzlies

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 17.85
Average NBA ranking: 18.41

Difference: -0.56

19
New Orleans Pelicans

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 17.30
Average NBA ranking: 17.90

Difference: -0.60

20
Orlando Magic

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sportsi

Average salary ranking: 15.31
Average NBA ranking: 16.81

Difference: -1.50

21
Golden State Warriors

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 14.16
Average NBA ranking: 15.94

Difference: -1.78

22
Dallas Mavericks

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 12.34
Average NBA ranking: 14.53

Difference: -2.19

23
Cleveland Cavaliers

Average salary ranking: 12.88
Average NBA ranking: 15.16

Difference: -2.28

24
Portland Trail Blazers

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 10.25
Average NBA ranking: 12.59

Difference: -2.34

25
Minnesota Timberwolves

Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 17.97
Average NBA ranking: 20.34

Difference: -2.38

26
Philadelphia 76ers

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 13.78
Average NBA ranking: 16.56

Difference: -2.78

27
Los Angeles Lakers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 7.38
Average NBA ranking: 10.84

Difference: -3.47

28
Washington Wizards

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 15.88
Average NBA ranking: 19.59

Difference: -3.72

29
Brooklyn Nets

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 12.91
Average NBA ranking: 17.00

Difference: -4.09

30
New York Knicks

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Average salary ranking: 8.41
Average NBA ranking: 16.00

Difference: -7.59

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