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Study calls Lakers, Celtics, Heat smartest spenders in NBA

NBA Finals Game 3: Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 10, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

Jesse D. Garrabrant

It’s a favorite little game of some to play — divide the wins by the payroll and see how much a team pays per win. It’s not always terribly reflective of reality, but it’s interesting. For example, do that for last season in the NBA and the Thunder look really good (their bills are just coming due).

Bloomberg’s businessweek.com decided to do that kind of study (for all four major sports) but tried to take a big picture view — they looked at the last five years and they gave bonuses for finishing over .500 and winning playoff games and championships.

So how did the NBA shake out? Here is their top 10:

1. Lakers
2. Celtics
3. Heat
4. Magic
5. Spurs
6. Thunder
7. Mavericks
8. Hawks
9. Nuggets
10. Bulls

Looks to me that by adding weight to playoff wins you basically made this a “win and you’re at the top” contest. The Lakers have been one of the biggest spenders (because they have the revenue to do it) but to be fair have been smart about it and won titles. Boston and Miami much the same, and Dallas has been the biggest spender of them all up until last season.

To me, it’s teams like the Spurs and Thunder that have been the smartest, getting wins while being fiscally responsible. But both of those teams were able to do that with a lucky draw in the lottery of an elite player who wanted to stay in a smaller market (Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan).

By the way, the bottom five are:

26. Raptors
27. Kings
28. Nets
29. Knicks
30. Timberwolves