Between 2007 and 2011, teams that ranked among the league’s top ten in player costs made the playoffs 82% of the time. For teams that cracked the top five in payroll, that likelihood of reaching the postseason increased to 88%.
Once through the door and into the party, though, anything can happen.
The team with the bigger payroll won just 48% of the 75 playoff series played over the last five years. Of the 20 teams to make a conference final since 2007, just seven have ranked among the league’s top five in player expenses.