Sums and differences of rookie-scaled contracts since 1995

Thanks to a mistake I made in Excel, I recently updated a post from over two months ago about how much money a first-round prospect could lose in the 2014 Draft if they were drafted at a worse slot than they’re slated to go, or how much extra cash they could make if they rose.

I’m actually going to post that here as well, but along with the sum and differences of every rookie-scaled contract of first-rounders since 1995, back when Joe Smith, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, among others, were selected. You can find yearly rookie-scaled salary at RealGM from 1995 to 2020 (a really cool page in my opinion), and the earnings from first-round draftees are consistent with what shows up in the Salaries section of Basketball-Reference’s player pages. The key thing is to multiply the salary on RealGM by 1.2, as most players get that 20 percent bump allowed in their rookie salary.

The first tables I made were for the total amount of salary each draft pick could make. These, along with every other table in this post, assume every first round pick got the 20 percent raise and played every year of their rookie contract. I also attached extra sheets about what percentage a non-first overall pick makes compared to the top draftee and the increase in salary each year from first round picks. The lockout-shortened seasons mark the biggest increases/decreases from year to year, among other noticeable things.

Take a look if you’d like. Each season is the first year of a rookie contract, so Garnett’s would be 1996, Kobe Bryant‘s 1997, Anthony Bennett‘s 2014, and so on. Below that are differences in cash from each draft slot:

Below are differences in three and four-year rookie contracts. At first I listed players with their draft slot for easy comparing, but it made tables too messy. Basketball-Reference’s draft pages might help.

Again, each season marks the first year of a rookie contract so Garnett’s would be ’96, Bryant’s as ’97, Bennett’s as 2014, and so on. Easy to mistake that when looking at sheets in the middle.

Hopefully that helps those who are posting re-drafts, something I’m seeing a lot of lately. Crab Dribbles is currently in the middle of their series from 2003 to 2013 while Amin Elhassan and David Thorpe of ESPN looked at some draft classes too (Insider-only). There’s also been some good, fun Twitter discussion about where Kawhi Leonard would land in a 2011 re-draft. Just how much would he make if he went from 15th overall to, say, second? What about others who would get a nice bump in pay?

We can look at that and a few other players who may come to mind. I had a lot of fun reading re-drafts so I actually made some of my own to look at the biggest raises from each rookie class. I’m sure a few re-picks are debatable as they’re not team-specific to begin with. I also left off initial second-rounders, but it goes to show what an uptick in the sum of rookie contracts can be like. Players with the largest increase in pay from each class are sorted by their rookie years, and I included some notes about picks I wasn’t sure of or thought were more interesting than others:

The largest increases happen when players went to the very top versus late-1sts going into the late-lotto, etc. Some players like Michael Carter-Williams (and possibly ones from draft classes down the road) would’ve had raises in their rookie contracts as large as the first year of a mini-max contract. I also think actual draft slots have an impact on second contracts, which is another post but it can be tested by what Evan Turner makes next season.

Anyway, hope this was interesting. For those continuing to do re-drafts and/or looking at this year’s prospects, hope this helps and adds a little more to discussions. Keep up the good work.

As a reminder, salaries are according to RealGM.

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2 thoughts on “Sums and differences of rookie-scaled contracts since 1995

  1. […] Any other thoughts are certainly welcome. You can find previous years here. […]

  2. […]  Last summer, I fooled around with that layer of fun for every rookie class since 1995, but this post covers the 2015 NBA Draft. ↩ […]

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