Every season, there are several players who outgrow their contracts.
Today, we are going to show some love to a group of players who are doing it so far this season with the All-Underpaid Team.
There are a number of directions this exercise can take depending on various factors, namely how you rate the players and what you consider to be underpaid. With that in mind, I set some rules for myself as I flipped through Basketball Reference’s NBA 2021-22 player contracts page looking for the lowest paid players in the league.
- The team must include a starting point guard, shooting guard, forward, power forward and center, plus a sixth man in any position.
- Players with rookie level contracts are not eligible. That means there are no Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball, Ja Morant, etc. Otherwise, this exercise becomes too easy.
- The team should include players with different types of contracts. Again, this drill would be too easy otherwise because you could put together a great team of players with minimal contracts right now. Plus, it helps add some variety.
- It’s about a player’s salary this season, not the length of his entire contract.
I understand? Excellent. On the underpaid team …
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The underpaid NBA team
PG: Dennis Schroder, Celtics
Salary 2021-22: $ 5.9 million
This was perhaps the best deal of the offseason.
In 2019-20, Schroder finished second behind Montrezl Harrell in the Sixth Man of the Year vote. He played well but fell short of expectations in his only season with the Lakers, causing him to miss the payday he once seemed destined for in free agency and signed a test contract with the Celtics.
The kicker is that Schroder’s time with the Celtics could be short-lived as he will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, but that doesn’t stop him from breaking this list.
SG: Seth Curry, 76ers
Salary 2021-22: $ 8.2 million
This is pretty simple – 3-point shots come at an additional cost today, and Curry is one of the most accurate 3-point shooters in the league today.
In fact, forget it, Curry is one of the most accurate 3-point shooters in the league. history.
Over the span of eight career seasons, Curry has made 44.2 percent of his 3-point attempts, ranking him second only to Steve Kerr (45.4 percent) for the highest 3-point percentage of all time in his career. career, and that also comes in actual volume. . Curry averages 4.2 3-point attempts per game in his career, accounting for more than half of his field goal attempts.
Not bad for an undrafted player, huh?
Curry is having a bad year by his standards and is still hitting 41.1 percent of his 3-point chances. Additionally, he has taken on more offensive responsibility with Ben Simmons out of the lineup and both Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid are missing additional time, bumping their field goal attempts (11.7), 3-point attempts (5.4), free throw attempts ( 2.4). and average score (16.2) at the highest professional level.
As NBA.com’s Benyam Kidane recently wrote, Seth is much, much more than Steph’s younger brother.
SF: Luguentz there, Thunder
Salary 2021-22: $ 1.8 million
The captain of this season’s All-Underpaid Team.
Unselected in 2019, Dort first joined the Thunder on a two-way deal. He worked his way into the Thunder’s starting lineup in the second half of his rookie season and eventually signed a four-year, $ 5.4 million deal, the final season of which he is a team option.
It didn’t take long for that deal to look like a heist.
Not only has Dort quickly established himself as one of the league’s most feared perimeter defenders (they call him the “House of Dorture” for a reason), but he continues to expand his game offensively. We’re not even halfway through the season and he already has nine 20-point games. In the first two seasons of his career combined, he had 10 of those games.
He still has a lot of room for improvement, but Dort is already someone who could fit in with just about any team in the league.
FP: OG Anunoby, Raptors
Salary 2021-22: $ 16.1 million
The four-year, $ 72 million extension that Anunoby signed in 2020 only looks better with time.
Anunoby has proven to be a valuable role player just by the strength of his ball-selling defense. (Few players are as versatile as he is at that end of the court and he can be incredibly disruptive with his long arms.) It has taken him some time to develop on the other end of the court, but he has proven to be a dependable 3-point shooter who adds something new to his game every season.
He only appeared in 15 games this season, but Anunoby looked like a Most Improved Player candidate before suffering a hip injury with career-high averages of 20.1 points and 2.7 assists per game.
The Anunoby deal looks like one of the best extensions given to players in the late draft classes, assuming, of course, that you can stay healthy.
MORE: How much are the Lakers paying Russell Westbrook?
C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
Salary 2021-22: $ 30.5 million
According to Basketball-Reference, there are, wait, 29 players who will make more money than the current MVP this season, a list that includes Kevin Love, Andrew Wiggins, Tobias Harris and John Wall. The crazy part? Jokic is only on the books for $ 32.5 million next season.
You probably don’t need me to tell you how ridiculously good Jokic is at basketball. (If you do, click here, here, here, here, or here.) It is safe to assume that you will earn a lot more in your next contract.
Sixth man: Alex Caruso, Bulls
Salary 2021-22: $ 8.6 million
The four-year, $ 37.0 million contract that Caruso signed with the Bulls in the offseason seemed just right at the time, but he looks like a Sixth Man of the Year and Defensive Team candidate with his early-season game. Defensively, he protects just about everyone while getting steals and deflections at a rate few can match. Offensively, his 3-point shots have taken a hit, but he does all the little things – timed cuts, extra passes, chasing fumbles – that make a difference.
All teams could use an Alex Caruso.
Honorable mentions: Zach LaVine, Bulls ($ 19.5 million); Patty Mills, Nets ($ 5.9 million); Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks ($ 4.3 million); LaMarcus Aldridge, Nets ($ 2.6 million); Andre Drummond, 76ers ($ 2.4 million); Carmelo Anthony, Lakers ($ 2.6 million); Jalen Brunson, Mavericks ($ 1.8 million)