Category Archives: 2014 NBA Draft

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.

When a prospect slips in the draft, how much salary do they lose?

This post has been revised after noticing a mistake in salaries of four-year rookie contracts. My air head regrets the error. 

With top college basketball players declaring for the draft left and right save for Jabari Parker, whose decision seems very much up in the air, I looked at the contracts for first round picks and how much money is really lost when top prospects slide in the draft. There are also cases when a player like Anthony Bennett gets drafted, when a team either reaches for a draftee or takes a player that might not have been on the radar for that draft slot.

But to start, contracts for first round picks are scaled ahead of time (up to the year 2020 can be found here) with teams having the option to offer as little as 80 percent of the fixed price or as high as 120 percent, according to Larry Coon’s Players often have that slight raise with Anthony Davis as just one example, but taking less than the slot scale has happened before thanks to Andre Roberson. Those contracts can last up to four years, but teams have options after the first two seasons to either release their once-first rounders or hold onto them at what’s likely a bargain price.

Below is a table looking at the scaled salaries for first rounders in the 2014 NBA Draft, sorted by draft slots. The first sheet is the combined salary, year after year, of the first four years. That’s assuming they all play through their rookie contracts and take the slight raise that teams can offer. The second sheet is the salary each season with the raise percentage they could get in their fourth.

But the first sheet is most important as it’ll be applied to a second batch of tables comparing how much money could be lost between draft slots. Take a look at the most money each slot could make through their first four seasons:

For a player like Anthony Davis, whose combined salary over four years is around that $20 million range, he makes as much over those seasons as Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and LeBron James make this season alone, among others. But that’s for Davis, who was drafted first overall in 2012. The 8th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft will make just under half of the 1st overall pick’s salary over four years (unless their contract includes incentives).

It’s simply a huge get for a franchise to score a first round pick that’s not only productive and can stay in the league, but an overall positive on the court. The sooner they’re a positive contributor the better, obviously, but even if a player hangs on for three years of his contract despite producing little and then becomes a key cog in Year 4, it still seems worth it given how many contracts around the $10 million/year range end up not so terrific. Looks like fun times all around for teams with those first rounders.

As for the draft prospects projected to go in the first round, slipping in the draft may provide positives such as a chip on their shoulder and a better fit with a better team. However, depending on how far a prospect slides and how high they were slated to go, it can be quite a blow to their bank account. For example, if the first overall pick and sixth of the 2014 Draft each play out all four years of their rookie contract (and take that raise they can be offered), the difference in salary between them is over $10 million. Maybe something comes up with Joel Embiid that hurts his draft stock or teams have second thoughts on Andrew Wiggins, who knows. Crazier things have happened, for better or for worse.

Regardless, dropping in the draft means an obvious decline in the salary they can earn and below are tables hopefully showing the difference for each draft pick over the course of two, three, and four seasons under their scaled pay. Again, that includes taking the slight raise they can be offered. Salary lost is in parenthesis while salary gained — if a prospect is drafted ahead of their projected slot or range — is not.

Also, because the sheets were fairly large, I made columns of draft slots on the bottom of them and to the right side in case it becomes hard to tell which draft slot is which. Anyway, take a look if you’d like:

Jabari Parker could very well be that player who slips in the draft not because of a performance issue but the overall talent that’s at the top. Is it worth it for him to trade being a top-5, maybe top-7 pick in this year’s draft in exchange for being a top-3 pick in 2015 and Duke being a title contender next year?

Some other highly-touted prospect is bound to drop in the draft regardless, but hopefully to a team that he’ll fit right in with. Trey Burke, Gorgui Dieng, and Tim Hardaway Jr. probably weren’t the ninth, 21st, and 24th-best available players in last year’s draft but they all look like they’ll end up as solid gets for the teams that chose them.

Which players will be this season’s Burke, Dieng, or Hardaway? Better yet, will anyone be the next Anthony Bennett in terms of rising in the draft for whatever reason? I guess we’ll have to wait, um, like 76 more days for all of this, though. Ugh, but if some player drops or rises then hopefully the tables posted above can help look at the impact it’ll have in their paychecks.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome. You can find previous years here.

Month by month lottery movement in GIFs and tables

About a month ago I wrote about the ongoing battle in the middle of the NBA lottery and how that’s often a spot where a team can increase their odds at a top-3 pick by as much as 33 percent, depending on where they are with a couple months left in the season.

For the heck of it, I took a look at this season’s lottery movement month by month, starting with December 16. I chose that odd starting point because of this season ending on April 16.

Below is a GIF of teams with their odds of landing a top-3 pick, and below that is a table showing changes in percentages by each month. Neither of them take account into draft picks owed from trades.

lotto on Make A Gif

I’m in the process of putting together something similar to that GIF, but way more interesting to look at and to be shown on the night the lottery balls come out. More than likely I’ll post it sooner, though, because boredom.

For now, it seems like New Orleans, a team that would be scary with another lottery pick, never gained enough steam to get within the top-5 protection their draft pick has. That’s even with missed time by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. They only have one percent more of a chance at landing a top-3 pick as Goran Dragic and the Suns. As for Milwaukee, they’ve been consistently the worst team in the league standings-wise for the whole season. Congrats, Larry Drew and Larry Sanders.

With a month left in the season still, there’s bound to be more movement below the Bucks and especially in the fourth through seventh spots. Detroit’s also in position to keep their top-8 protected draft pick, but who would they even draft to play with Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Brandon Jennings? For all that talent, there are still quite a few holes to fill. Some of those will disappear with Drummond’s progression, though. Hopefully.

Lastly, below is a table showing percentages by month and records:

Any other thoughts are welcome.

The battle in the middle of the NBA lottery

By this point of the season, teams that started (and remain) with depleted rosters have come down to earth, making their way to the bottom of the league’s standings. Sometimes they become so bad they separate themselves from the rest of the pack, like the 2010 New Jersey Nets who were 4-48 at about this time four years ago, the 2012 and ’13 Charlotte Bobcats, and this season’s poor, poor Milwaukee Bucks.

A couple other teams are bound to be just as hopeless. Together they’ll combine for half, sometimes even two-thirds of the chances of lottery teams scoring a top-3 pick. Below is a slot-by-slot breakdown of the odds of reaching the final three:

  1. 64.3%
  2. 55.8%
  3. 46.9%
  4. 37.8%
  5. 29.2%
  6. 21.5%
  7. 15.0%
  8. 10.0%
  9. 6.1%
  10. 4.0%
  11. 2.9%
  12. 2.5%
  13. 2.2%
  14. 1.8%

The odds of landing a top-3 pick are still decent in places four through six, spots often up for grabs between several teams, some legitimate enough to be a force the following season with their current roster and a draft pick high enough to land a future star.

Take this season’s ongoing battle, for example. Six teams currently have between 18 and 20 wins, the difference between fourth and ninth place in the lottery and over a 30 percent chance of sitting in the top three on draft night. After those teams is a group of 22 and 23-win squads well within reach such as New Orleans, who already has a gem in Anthony Davis. Score a top-3 pick and the West has another team to worry about in 2015 and on.

Here’s a look at this season so far, not taking into account draft picks owed:

Tier 1 and 2 are pretty similar in terms of skill level and the stages of their franchises, though making up ground on Orlando and Philadelphia seem like quite a task. Each team can become that much worse with a trade before the deadline, but there’s still room for others to move up and grab anywhere from a fifth to a third of the lottery pie.

But is it really worth it for teams to tank for a serious chance at a high draft pick? It depends. Teams outside the top three or four in the lottery are vastly different from each other. Below are some examples of teams less likely to tank:

  • Teams that don’t own their own draft pick, like the current 20-32 Knicks. There’s no incentive for them to lose more games.
  • Others, like the 2010 Pacers and usually the Bucks don’t believe tanking helps as much as staying competitive while rebuilding.
  • Teams with rising stars such as the early days of LeBron James and currently the Brow, though I wish Cleveland hung on for one more top pick. Same with New Orleans with Nerlens Noel, or even a top-5 pick this summer.
  • Teams with good pieces looking to rise through a blockbuster trade, like the 2010-13 Rockets.
  • Teams that just acquired a star, like the 2005 Golden State Warriors with Baron Davis. I would include the 2013 Raptors or the current Kings except Rudy Gay has never even been an all-star. This can also apply to teams that splurged in the summer but struggled out of the gate, like this season’s Pistons after grabbing Josh Smith.
  • Teams stuck in no man’s land with established stars, like the 2006 and 2007 Timberwolves with Kevin Garnett and the 2013 Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki. The 2009 Suns can also fall in here, but the standings at the end of the season showed a 17-game difference between ninth and 10th place in the West and 10 games between 13th and 14th in the lottery.
  • Playoff hopefuls going through injuries, like a ton of teams out East earlier this season, the 2013 Blazers, and the 2013 Timberwolves.
  • Talented pieces that don’t fit, like the 2013 Raptors and 2010 Grizzlies. Seriously, the 2010 Grizz featured Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Hasheem Thabeet, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Allen Iverson, Ronnie Brewer, Mike Conley, Jamaal Tinsley, and Marcus Williams. They might also fit under the teams that…
  • …want to see what they have versus resting them for a higher draft pick, but I honestly don’t remember a ton about that squad other than the names they had at one point or another. The 2013 Wizards and Timberwolves are probably better examples with them looking at the John WallBradley Beal combo and the Ricky RubioKevin LoveNikola Pekovic trio, respectively.

Basically, every situation is different.

Over the next two months, we’ll see which teams battle for a better slot in the lottery and which would rather chase for a playoff spot. At the moment, it seems like places eight to 14 will see a lot of action between East teams moving in and out of the playoff race. Places four to seven should also be active, and Sacramento is just too talented to be in fifth place.

Historically, teams have moved up and scored a top-3 pick (2005 Blazers), but others have lost major ground yet still hung on (2013 Wizards). Below is a history of lottery movement since 2003. Standings are as of February 11 of every season but 2012, which I moved up to March 11. That’s a week off compared to this year, sure, but standings are just about the same with teams already having played a similar percentage of games.

Anyway, take a look if you’d like (here’s a link too):

I didn’t adjust for playoff slots in the tables as of either February and March 11, as well as draft picks owed to other teams for any of the tables. Percentages were based off sites such as, its team pages, and draft-based sites like DraftExpress. Percentages may still be off by a hundredth of a percentage point, but whatever.

Feel free to chime in with any other comments.

Mediocre NBA teams deserve special slogans too

“Riggin for Wiggins” is just one slogan the 2014 NBA Draft and its potential prospects have created for teams tanking in March and April. Bill Simmons may or may not have gotten carried away with them last night. Check it out:

I can’t say much, especially when I’ve always thought about tweeting “play like Shart for Smart”, so I saved it for my blog. Nice. That’ll boost my credibility.

But if we could go back in time, I’d also make slogans for teams that tried to stay good in the short term in exchange for a dent in the future. Here they are. Read if you dare:

Washington Wizards: So distraught without Gortat

Charlotte Bobcats: Understand the rationale for Big Al

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ain’t jack without Jack

New York Knicks: Scrawny without Bargnani

Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings-lite with Brandon Knight.

New Orleans Pelicans: Turn away as we trade for Holiday.

Detroit Pistons: Happily writhe for Josh Smith.

Dallas Mavericks: Overzealous for Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers: I’m just sayin, Chris Kaman?

If none of these worked for you, I apologize. Proceed to jump through the laptop and hit me with a frying pan.

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