Playoff Net Rating vs. Team Salary

Do playoff teams that spend a ton of money in salary tend to have high net ratings (point differential per 100 possessions)?  Conversely, do playoff teams that don’t spend a ton of money tend to have low net ratings?

Obviously, the quality of play is not equal throughout the playoffs.  The Miami Heat vs. the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round (Bucks in six!) is a lot different than the Miami Heat vs. the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.  I get that.  But if we can just put that aside for one second, here’s a graph of each playoff team’s net rating throughout the 2012-2013 NBA Playoffs (courtesy of NBA Stats) versus it’s payroll (from Basketball-Reference).

Three things to note:

  • Daryl Morey is a f      ing genius.His Houston Rockets have a payroll of around $50 million ($53.077 million, if you really want to be specific), and they had roughly the same net rating as the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, who spent about $87 million and $99 million in payroll, respectively.  Again, the Rockets played different teams than the Bulls and the Celtics in the playoffs, and the Bulls had injury issues.  But that should take nothing away from the level of play from the Rockets, given their payroll.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers had a huge payroll, and a god-awful net rating .Not even the Milwaukee Bucks had a worse net rating in the playoffs — the Lakers managed to get outscored by more than 20 points per 100 possessions.  On top of that, the Lakers also shelled out an obscene amount of money in payroll this season ($120 million).  Granted, Kobe was out with a torn achilles (though we did see glimpses of Coach Kobe), but they still had Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
  • To be a playoff team, you basically have to spend $80+ million in payroll.Every single playoff team except the Houston Rockets spent more than $80 million in payroll.  Which is a bad omen, considering that the luxury tax kicks in at around $70 million. So to make the playoffs, you pretty much have to pay luxury tax.  Unless you’re Daryl Morey.

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Tags: Boston Celtics Chicago Bulls Houston Rockets Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks San Antonio Spurs

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