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The 2015 NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors has been one of the most exciting series in recent years. The underdog Cleveland Cavaliers are up 2-1 and game four is scheduled for tonight. In this write-up, chart-it looks at each player's share of their team's total points scored and total salary. You can find the data used in this write-up here and here. The source code for the data analysis can be found here.
LeBron’s importance to the Cavs has been widely discussed, particularly in light of injuries that will force three of the Cavs starters to miss the finals. The 2015 NBA finals are essentially LeBron James versus the Warriors. But just how important is he? Let’s look at points scored by each player in Figure 1 below. LeBron has scored more than 42 percent of the team’s points during the first three games of the series. The next highest is Timofey Mozgov, who’s scored just over 13 percent of the team’s points. Mathew Dellavedova, a key player for the Cavs during the series, has scored 10 percent of the team’s total points.
The Warriors points are more evenly distributed with both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson each scoring about a quarter of the team’s points. Andre Iguodala is in third place with 12.7 percent.
Figure 2. Points Scored and Assist Points
The Cavs have a more lopsided salary distribution with LeBron earning 40 percent of the total salary among players fielded by the Cavs in the finals (46 percent excluding Kyrie and 25 percent of the total Cavs salary). Dellavedova’s salary is just under a million dollars, the lowest salary among all of the players who have played this series.
Figure 3. Player Salaries **
** The left column under "% Total" is the player's share of the total salary of the selected players (i.e., players who have been active during the finals). The right column is the player's share of the team's total salary.