With the offseason still relatively young, there have been some members of the 2018 NBA Draft that have gotten an early pay raise. Many of these players are entering their fourth season in the league, which means that their rookie contracts will end in the summer of 2022. Players like Trae Young, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have been paid big bucks to stay with their respective franchises.
It begs the question of who is next and for how much? There are some pretty great rising superstars in the league and will be asking for a hefty increase in their salary. These 8 young players from the 2018, 2019, and 2020 drafts could see a max contract in the future.
19.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG
There were some that believed that Edwards should have won Rookie of the Year this past season. At 19 years old, Edwards nearly averaged 20 points per game with a respectable rebounding average. By the time he gets into his prime years, he could be one of the best all-around shooting guards in the league.
The Timberwolves have three years, if Edwards doesn’t make First-Team All-NBA, to make this decision, but it seems pretty cut and dry. Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell might not even be on the team, so they will have plenty of money to spare.
16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Barrett took a step in the right direction during his sophomore campaign. His field goal percentage and three-point shooting all increased, as well as his points, rebounding, and assists. The former No. 3 overall pick fits well within Tom Thibodeau’s system. This will be year three for Barrett, so we expect to see him continue to develop.
Barrett has a game that could be as high as the likes of Jimmy Butler, another former Thibs All-Star. We saw how much money Butler just received the last few years from the Heat. When it comes to extension time in two years, Barrett could get a max contract too.
Michael Porter Jr.
14.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG
This is the biggest year of Porter’s career dating back to high school, college, and the pros. Porter played one game his rookie year. Then, his sophomore year, which was his rookie season, went well, but it wasn’t until last season where we saw what he could do. Porter averaged 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and shot 44.5% from the three-point range.
The Nuggets have not made a big splash in the trade market for a player like Bradley Beal because it would cost them a player like Porter. At 23 years old, he is young and could be an All-Star down the road. If he plays a full season and sees a jump from last year, this could be an expensive decision for the Nuggets.
20.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG
The happiest person from the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander max contract extension should be Sexton. Like Gilgeous-Alexander, Sexton plays on a bad team. The Cavaliers are still a few years away from competing at a high level. Sexton has been the subject of trade rumors in the past, but if he stays, he could get a big contract from the team.
Sexton has averaged over 20 points per game the last two seasons. Last year, Sexton averaged 24.3 points per game as the team’s leading scorer. At 22 years old, Sexton will be a top target by any team given what he can bring to the table.
16.0 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.2 BPG
When Chris Paul took less money to stay with the Suns, the immediate thought was that some of that cap space was going to be used to help bring Ayton back after this year. Ayton saw a decrease in points per game but shot over 62% from the field last year. His defensive awareness also took a jump as he became a complete center.
Ayton should want to return to the Suns, especially with the possibility of playing with Paul and Devin Booker for the next four years. Ayton won’t be cheap as 2018 No. 1 overall pick has played extremely well. Could this be the year that Ayton makes his first All-Star appearance?
15.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG
If Lonzo Ball is worth over $20 million a year, then imagine what LaMelo is worth. The Charlotte Hornets are stingy in the strangest of ways with their money. After all, look at what happened with Kemba Walker, who was their leading scorer. Then, look at what they offered Gordon Hayward last offseason.
Regardless, the 2021 Rookie of the Year was the youngest player to record a triple-double in a game. Ball made the Hornets relevant because of the electrifying plays he brings to the court. Don’t be surprised if Ball makes an All-NBA appearance the next few years. At 19 years old, he could be in the same boat as Trae Young or Luka Doncic one day.
18.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 7.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
How much better can Morant get overtime? The 2020 Rookie of the Year has athleticism comparable to a younger Russell Westbrook. Between the incredible playmaking to the high-flying dunks, Morant makes Memphis a fun team to watch. With a few veterans added to the mix, Morant is poised to have his best season yet.
Morant has not made an All-Star appearance, but that seems like it could change this year. The Grizzlies haven’t offered a max-like contract since Mike Conley Jr. Morant has a ceiling higher than Conley, so that should give us plenty of reason to believe that he is going to get a max deal someday.
25.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Aren’t we kind of expecting this? Williamson became the fourth-youngest player to ever start in an All-Star Game last year. He averaged 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in his first full season while shooting 61.1% from the field. The Pelicans are completely lost without Williamson on the floor and in the market of the NBA.
Williamson is on pace to become one of the faces of the NBA once LeBron retires. He is just 21 years old but has the frame of someone who has played in the pros for years. Williamson, like Morant, enters his third season in the league. This could be the year that he finally gets on the All-NBA list and sets himself up for a big-time pay raise.