The NBA season is off to a great start, and some of the best players in the league are currently on big contracts. How much will they be worth come playoff time? Take a look at this ranking from 10-1!
The “best nba contracts 2021” is a ranking of the top 10 most valuable NBA contracts for this season. The list was compiled by ESPN and features mostly players who are free agents or have recently been traded.
Superstars are essential for winning a championship, but they come at a cost. If you look at the salary of the best players in the league, you’ll see that they’re all above $40 million each year. The finest athletes are deserving of praise, but they can’t achieve it on their own.
NBA GMs are known for bringing in top-tier talent, but the greatest of them also know how to build out a team with role players who surpass their contracts. Value bargains might be the difference between a quick flight home and a long march to the summit.
When compiling our top-10 list of value contracts, we followed just one rule:
In our standings, no player earns more than $5 million this year.
The top ten value contracts for 2021-2022 are shown below.
Otto Porter Jr. is number ten on the list.
In 2021-2022, $2,389,641 will be spent.
Otto Porter Jr. entered the league as the third overall choice in the 2013 draft. He never lived up to the lofty expectations placed on a top-5 pick, moving from Washington to Chicago to Orlando before being signed on a one-year, prove-it contract by Warriors GM Bob Meyers.
Porter Jr. has shown this.
For the sake of the team, he’s set his ego aside. He only takes 6.6 shots a game, preferring to use his three-point shooting to spread the floor for his teammates rather than attacking the hoop. Porter Jr. averages 1.15 points per possession on spot-up looks, which puts him in the 83rd percentile in the league, and he’s helped the Warriors get into the top ten in offensive rating by providing players like Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole freedom to move in the half-court.
On defense, Otto Porter Jr. utilizes his 6-8 length to torment opposing wings. When he comes in for Andrew Wiggins, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr generally assigns the former Georgetown star the assignment of guarding the best player on the floor, and he’s done a good job of it, keeping his man to a decent 46.4 percent field goal percentage. Porter Jr. has been more than just a good on-ball defender in 2021-2022; he’s also been a disruptor, with a steal rate of 2.4 percent, which puts him in the 87th percentile.
Carmelo Anthony (nine)
In 2021-2022, $2,641,691 will be spent.
Gary A. Vasquez of USA TODAY Sports contributed to this report.
Carmelo Anthony’s tale is well-known among NBA fans. He began his career with the Denver Nuggets, where he had postseason success under head coach George Karl, although he never advanced to the NBA finals. He wanted a trade to New York in the hopes of bringing a championship to his local Knicks, but was unsuccessful. He was released from the league at the age of 34 because no club wanted to sign an elderly offensive black hole who didn’t play defense. At the end of 2019, Houston took a risk on him, and Portland signed him for two years. Now, Anthony is a reinvented spot-up shooter for the Lakers, where he assists in making space for Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.
Carmelo Anthony is shooting almost half of his shots from beyond the arc this season, hitting on 38.9% of his attempts. He’s also a threat from the midrange, connecting on 47.6% of his shots from 16 feet to the three-point line, offering the Purple and Gold an isolated option in the half-court when LBJ isn’t available.
Lakers fans like Anthony’s three-point shooting, cheering him on every time he takes a shot from long range, but they’ve developed a deep affection for his effort on the less enjoyable end of the court. Until this year, the former third-round pick hadn’t tried on D in what seemed like an eternity. Anthony is now putting in 100 percent effort on defense and takes delight in shutting down opponents. Overall, he’s forcing his assignments to shoot 2.2 percent lower than their regular average, and his block rate this season is 2.6 percent, which puts him in the 75th percentile.
JaVale McGee (#8)
In the years 2021-2022, $5,000,000 will be spent.
JaVale McGee is a fan of the all-encompassing advanced metrics.
Here’s how it works:
McGee’s projected plus/minus above an average player in the NBA is +4.5 points per 100 possessions, putting him in the 96th percentile.
With a 17.1 player impact rating, NBA.com ranks him 10th in the league (minimum 15 minutes per game).
JaVale McGee has a +18 net rating according to Basketball-Reference.
When the Phoenix Suns’ starting center Deandre Ayton is resting, JaVale McGee provides superb rim protection, which is a luxury only a few teams in the NBA enjoy. McGee, 33, is tall and athletic. He boasts a 4.6 percent (96th percentile) block percentage and is a good one-on-one defender versus opposing big men. Overall, he’s the league’s top backup defensive center.
On offense, Suns head coach Monty Williams is unlikely to have planned a single play for McGee this season, but he is averaging 10.2 points per game thanks to lobs from CP3, rim runs, and offensive rebounding. By repeatedly diving to the rack and forcing opposing teams to choose their poison, he’s shown to be the ideal complement to Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
JaVale McGee would be higher on our ranking, but he only plays 16 minutes each game, which isn’t enough to have a significant influence.
Keldon Johnson is number seven.
In 2021-2022, $2,145,720 will be spent.
The Spurs selected Keldon Johnson 29th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. Perhaps GM R.C. Buford and head coach Gregg Popovich saw a little Kawhi Leonard in the Kentucky forward. Maybe the Spurs used some of their enchantment on him. Who knows what will happen.
What we do know is that Johnson is far beyond the terms of his near-minimum contract. The third-year winger averages 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 44.1 percent from three-point range on 3.5 attempts a night. Johnson has a great outside stroke, but he’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He drives the ball 8.1 times a game and connects on 42.4 percent of his rim attempts.
Keldon Johnson, who is 6-5 and 220 pounds, has the size to be a top-notch ballhawk in the league. Johnson is often assigned on the opposing team’s greatest perimeter option by Gregg Popovich, but his assignments are still 2.2 percent below their usual shooting average. Johnson also has a powerful engine. He leads the club with 1.07 kilometers run on defense per game, demonstrating that he doesn’t only defend his man, but also dashes across the floor, closing out on open three-point shooters and tormenting midrange players.
Grayson Allen, No. 6
In 2021-2022, the budget will be $4,054,695.
Image courtesy of Getty Images/Michael Reaves
Grayson Allen has a three-year agreement that is back-loaded. He’ll make a bit more than $9.6 million next season, and more than $10 million the next year. Allen is getting a meager $4 million this season, making him one of the greatest bargains in the league.
Allen is a fantastic three-point shooter. He makes 23% of his field-goal tries from long range, connecting 38.9% of the time. He’s a hit with the shooting numbers. On spot-up looks, he connects on 1.29 points per possession, which puts him in the 94th percentile. On his 5.6 catch and shoot chances per game, he has a 56.7 effective field goal percentage. With a turnover rate of 6% (95th percentile), Allen plays a mistake-free style of basketball, making him the ideal floor-spacing wing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Grayson Allen had a reputation as a soft offensive specialist coming out of Kentucky, and that was basically accurate for his first three seasons in the NBA. This isn’t the year. Coach Mike Budenholzer seldom assigns Allen the task of containing the opposition team’s premier perimeter threat. He also doesn’t need to conceal him on the most vulnerable perimeter choice. Allen has a 41.8 defensive field goal percentage, which is one of Milwaukee’s best. He’s also working hard on the less glamorous side of the game, contesting 6.2 shots per game and 1.4 deflections per game while covering 1.02 defensive miles per game, which ranks third on the Bucks.
Monk Malik No. 5
In 2021-2022, $1,789,256 will be spent.
Last season, Malik Monk averaged 11.7 points per game while shooting 40.1 percent from beyond the arc for the Charlotte Hornets, but he received little interest in free agency during the offseason. Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager, jumped in and signed the Kentucky product to a one-year contract that has turned out to be one of the finest bargains in the game.
Malik Monk had a slow start to the season, but since being inserted as a starter eight games ago, he’s averaging 20.3 points per game while shooting 50.8 percent from three-point range, forming an instant synergy with LeBron James and helping the Lakers to a 5-3 record. Malik Monk has played a James Harden-like style of contemporary basketball this season, taking almost 80% of his shots at the rim, where he finishes a whopping 73.2 percent of his efforts, or from three-point range, where he connects on 39.6 percent of his tries. Overall, he’s averaging 12.0 points per game while shooting 58.5 percent from the field, giving the Purple and Gold a much-needed cheap offensive punch.
If you’re a follower of the NBA, you already know Malik Monk can score, but this season he’s focusing on defense for the first time in his career. Monk was particularly bad on the less pleasant end of the court last season in Charlotte, finishing with a 49.8 defensive field goal percentage and allowing his assignments to shoot 4.3 percent higher than their average rate. Now fast forward to this season, and he has a defensive field goal percentage of 42.8, down seven points from previous year. Monk, at 6-3, isn’t big enough to be a lockdown winger, but he’s holding his own against some of the league’s best offensive weapons, which has helped his +/- rating soar. With Monk on the floor, the Lakers are +8.2 points per 100 possessions in 2021-2022, which puts him in the 86th percentile of all NBA guards.
Bobby Portis, No. 4
In 2021-2022, $4,347,600 will be spent.
Image courtesy of Getty Images
For a little more than $4 million, Bobby Portis is providing top-flight center minutes to the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Compare his stats to the salaries of some of the Eastern Conference’s other top starting fives:
– Bobby Portis: 15.4 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game, 42.8 3P%, 3.1 WS, 42.1 DFG%, $4.3 million salary
– Joel Embiid: 27.0 points per game, 10.6 rebounds per game, 38.5 3P%, 4.6 WS, 49.0 DFG%, $31.5 million salary
– Domantas Sabonis: 19.1 points per game, 12.0 rebounds per game, 32.3 3P%, 5.7 WS, 47.4 DFG%, $18.5 million salary
– Julius Randle: 19.0 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game, 31.2 3P percent, 1.7 steals per game, 41.3 DFG percent, $20 million salary
– Bam Adebayo: 18.7 points per game, 10.2 points per game, 0.0 3 percent, 1.8 WS, 42.8 DFG percent, $28 million salary
– Jarrett Allen: 16.9 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game, 12.5 3P%, 5.9 WS, 41.3 DFG%, $20 million salary
Is Bobby Portis the Eastern Conference’s top center?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no Joel Embiid is a contender for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Sabonis is one of the league’s most talented big men. Jarrett Allen has a case to be the greatest defensive center in the NBA, while Adebayo is a switchable center who can torment all five position players on the floor.
Nonetheless, Portis’ stats are comparable to the finest fives in the East. He boasts the second-best defensive field goal % in the group and outshoots every other starting big man from outside the arc by a wide margin. Portis’ pay in comparison to his contemporaries is the most important difference in their slash lines. He earns a pittance compared to the other starting centers.
Bobby Portis is one of the league’s greatest values. On defensive shifts, he spreads the floor, guards the rim, and moves his feet effectively. The Arkansas native has one year remaining on his contract before being paid, so the Bucks should take advantage of him while they still can.
Jalen Brunson is number three on the list.
In 2021-2022, $1,802,057 will be spent.
If you didn’t know who Jalen Brunson was before the season started, you’re not alone. The 33rd overall pick in the 2018 draft is now well-known.
Brunson is a one-of-a-kind offensive player. He has an uncanny ability to go into the lane and finish powerfully at the basket. When his driving paths are closed off, he also possesses a good midrange pop game. In general, he has great shooting stats at all levels:
75.9% from 0 to 3 feet
51.9 percent from 3 to 10 ft
50.0 percent at 10-16 ft
44.9 percent on the 16-foot-3-point line
33.6 percent of three-pointers
Brunson isn’t just a scorer; he’s also shown to be a facilitator this season, with an average of 12.2 potential assists per game and 15.2 assist points generated.
Brunson, who is in the last year of his deal, proved his importance earlier this season when superstar Luka Doncic was out, helping the Dallas Mavericks to a.500 record.
In this league, Jalen Brunson is capable of starting at point guard. In fact, if you ask Lakers fans who they’d rather have at No. 1: Brunson or Westbrook, the vast majority would prefer to see the Mavericks’ third-year guard in purple and gold, and analytical statistics back that up.
Take a peek at:
Jalen Brunson: 12.9 PIE, +1.1 EPM, 1.8 BPM.
Russell Westbrook’s EPM, BPM, and PIE are -1.1, -1.1, and 12.1 respectively.
This season, Brunson earns less than $2 million, while Westbrook earns more than $44 million.
That is what value is all about.
Jordan Poole, No. 2
Salary in 2021-2022: $2.161,440
courtesy of Warriors Wire
Jordan Poole, 22, has already established himself as a top scorer. He’s averaging 17.2 points per game, providing off-the-dribble scoring for a Warriors club that has plenty of 3-and-D weapons but lacks guys who can penetrate into the lane and wreak havoc outside of Stephen Curry. Poole is one of the league’s finest finishers, hitting on 74.4 percent of his shots at the basket and 52.1 percent from 3 to 10 feet, demonstrating that he’s already perfected the technique of drawing up short and firing a floater over a big man in only his third season.
Much of the credit for Golden State’s early-season success goes to Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins, but the Warriors wouldn’t be tied with the Phoenix Suns for the best record in the league without Poole’s rise this year. He’s turned the Warriors into a true pick-your-poison squad. Poole is more than capable of scoring 10 points in a row when opposing teams press Stephen Curry on the perimeter and take away his outside shot. Jordan Poole’s ability to create scoring opportunities, along with Curry’s offensive prowess, has been the driving force behind the Warriors’ astonishing one-season turnaround.
Jordan Poole isn’t a defensive stalwart. Despite this, the Warriors have the greatest defensive rating in the NBA, and the former Michigan star is no slouch on defense. With a 44.5 defensive field goal percentage and 1.5 deflections a game, he holds his own on the perimeter.
Jordan Poole is a better version of last year’s Six Man of the Year, Jordan Clarkson, this season.
Compare their figures from 2021 to 2022:
Jordan Poole: 17.2 points per game, 3.4 assists per game, 2.4 rebounds per game, 7.4 net rating
Jordan Clarkson: 15.1 points per game, 2.3 assists per game, 1.4 touchdowns per game, 9.4 net rating
Jordan Poole will be sent to the bench as Klay Thompson returns to the starting lineup. He’s outperforming Jordan Clarkson, the league’s top second unit player last season, at a fraction of the cost, giving the Golden State Warriors one of the league’s finest vacuum scorers for a fraction of the cost.
Desmond Bane is number one.
In 2021-2022, $2,033,160 will be spent.
The Memphis Grizzlies are 29-14 and have the best record in the NBA. They are legitimate championship candidates. Desmond Bane has been at the core of the Grizzlies’ climb to the top, unlike the other players on this list who have played supporting roles in helping their teams win.
This season, Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, and Steven Adams have all been out for extended periods of time. But, along with Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane has been in all but one of the Grizzlies’ games, playing hard on both sides of the floor every step of the way and frequently securing difficult victories through pure willpower.
Two things stand out while watching Desmond Bane play:
1. He is always convinced that he is the greatest player on the floor.
2. He works harder on the court than the other nine sportsmen.
The basketball connection between Desmond Bane and Ja Morant is similar to that of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Ja Morant, like Curry, is the Grizzlies’ motor, but like Green, Bane’s no-fear attitude rubs off on the rest of his teammates, giving Memphis a legitimate opportunity to win the title this season.
Beyond Bane’s demeanor, sophisticated statistics adore him. With a +3.1 EPM, Dunks and Threes puts him in the 93rd percentile of all NBA players, while FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR puts him towards the top of the league in WAR at 2.8.
Desmond Bane’s classic tunes are also solid. On the less pleasant end, he’s averaging 17.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, 2.4 assists per game, and a 42.7 3P percent despite routinely facing the opposition team’s top offensive weapon.
Desmond Bane has played like a $30 million-plus player for the Grizzlies this season while earning just a little more than the league minimum, making the second-year winger the best value in the league.
Contracts of Value Are More Important Than Ever
When you look at our list, it’s clear that the clubs who are able to sign players at a bargain, either via the draft or free agency, are winning.
With Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen, the Milwaukee Bucks have two of the greatest value contracts in the NBA. Otto Porter Jr. and Jordan Poole both make our list for the Golden State Warriors, who have the best record in the NBA.
The Lakers have struggled this season, but most analysts still regard them as title contenders, and they have two of the league’s best value contracts in Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk.
The Suns, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Mavericks have all done a great job of discovering value this season and in the future.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who has the best contract in the NBA 2021?
A: That is a great question with no answer.
Who has the best contract in the NBA?
A: The Los Angeles Clippers have the best contract in the NBA.
Who is the highest-paid center in the NBA?
A: LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is currently the highest-paid center in NBA history.
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