The new Collective Bargaining Agreement in recent years has allowed a great chunk of the media and advertising money to flow into the players' revenue.
This is an exciting era when elite players get paid handsomely for their superb talents, loyalty as well as star quality. Below we discuss the top ten youngest players who are the biggest beneficiaries of this new trend in NBA professional sports remuneration.
10. Joel Embiid - 26 Years Old
Drafted third in 2014, Joel Embiid signed a 5 year, $147 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018. The Sixers placed all their chips waiting for the recovery of 'The Process' in his rookie season. Their wait proved to be wise as Joel quickly showed his mettle by catapulting into the top 15 players of the league.
The versatile modern center plays elite defense and offense when he is healthy. Easily a top-three player in the post, Joel dominates opponents with his skilled footwork and physical intensity. He also spaces the floor well as he is not afraid to shoot jumpers or perimeter shots by taking advantage of what the defense gives him. His trajectory puts him in the conversation to be the best center in years to come.
9. Pascal Siakam - 26 Years Old
Following his Cinderella season, when Pascal played a pivotal role with Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka in their successful clinching of the championship, Pascal became catapulted into superstardom. The Raptors also managed to remain in the elite tier even after Kawhi left for the Clippers. A big part of the consistency in excellence was due to Pascal's intensity, prolific performance, and solid ability to carry the team.
Drafted 27th in 2016, Pascal Siakam quickly signed a 4 year, $136 million contract with the Toronto Raptors in 2020. That is a huge affirmation move by the franchise for a young player whom they have selected, developed, and groomed into a legitimate superstar. The Raptors must continue to retool and enhance the roster around their newfound core player to stay competitive in the future.
8. Andrew Wiggins - 25 Years Old
Drafted number one in 2014, Andrew Wiggins showed initial promise as a starter for the Minnesota Timberwolves. His outstanding ability to score in bunches earned a positive review from several veterans. Based upon his rapid start, in 2017, Andrew Wiggins signed a five-year, $147 million contract extension with the Timberwolves.
However, in recent years, Andrew and the Timberwolves have been subpar in their performance, particularly shown in the high profile break between Jimmy Butler and the team after the team made the only Playoffs appearance during Jimmy's tenure. Andrew has since been traded to the Golden State Warriors. Only time will tell if this former top pick will regain his earlier glory and rise to his unfulfilled potential.
7. Ben Simmons - 24 Years Old
Drafted number one in 2016, Ben Simmons signed a 5 year, $177 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019. Despite being injured his rookie season, he quickly recovered and made his debut season one to remember, winning Rookie of the Year and being a potential nightly triple-double threat.
As a running mate and leading point guard for Joel Embiid, Ben showed his dynamic prowess from the jump. Described as having a similar game to rookie LeBron James, Ben wowed the audience with his triple threat of driving, rebounding, and playmaking. In the latest season, Ben also demonstrated his basketball IQ by dominating in defense as well, raking up steals and blocks. Still on an upward trend, Ben is easily one of the most valuable pieces to start any franchise with.
6. Donovan Mitchell - 24 Years Old
Donovan is a big reason for Utah Jazz's steady perennial appearances in the Playoffs. His explosive, dynamic, and entertaining style of play earned him the nickname Spida. Right from the get-go, Donovan is a winning team player and became the Jazz's core piece to build around.
Drafted number 13 in 2017, Donovan Mitchell signed a five-year designated rookie extension worth up to $195 million in 2020. This year's Playoffs allowed the world to witness the greatness of Donovan Mitchell throughout his scoring exhibition and he is a player to watch for the coming years.
5. Brandon Ingram - 23 Years Old
With his early days in the Los Angeles Lakers drawing comparisons with Kevin Durant's lanky frame, crafty scoring ability, and swift lateral movement, Brandon Ingram has since improved progressively every single season. Following his trade to the New Orleans Pelicans, Brandon Ingram was quickly given the keys to operate as the primary scorer. He became a nightly mismatch nightmare for opponents, allowing his stat line to shine.
Drafted number two in 2016, Brandon Ingram agreed to a five-year, $158 million contract extension with the Pelicans. Brandon was able to bounce back after his blood clot health scare, securing an All-Star spot and earning his big paycheck for the coming five seasons. Safe to say, Brandon is going to be a top 20 player in this league shortly.
4. Bam Adebayo - 23 Years Old
Bam Adebayo is a renaissance big man who brings back post skill sets whilst exhibiting modern combo guard playmaking ability. Due to his versatile plays, great work ethic, and hustling intensity, Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra have been raving about him non-stop.
Drafted number 14 in 2017, Bam signed a five-year, $163 million contract following his amazing All-Star debut season and showcasing his ability to lead a team deep in the Playoffs. The Miami Heat team looks optimistically on the uptrend with this solid center being their pivotal piece of growth.
3. De'Aaron Fox - 22 Years Old
Touted to be the fastest NBA player since John Wall, De'Aaron Fox is a speedy, energetic, and electric player who directs the King's offense. He was given the reins early in his career to steer the Sacramento Kings as its floor general.
Drafted number five in 2017, De'Aaron Fox agreed to a five-year, $163 million contract extension with the Sacramento Kings. As the franchise attempts a reset and brings in more pieces to complement the young star, De'Aaron is given a chance to lead the team back into the Playoffs. The coming seasons will bear witness whether the management was right in going all-in on the De'Aaron Fox movement.
2. Jamal Murray - 22 Years Old
Jamal Murray began his rookie season away from the spotlight. His developmental progress flew under the radar but the veteran coach Michael Malone brought out the best in Jamal. Through his industrious work ethic and impeccable skills, Jamal thrived under the Nuggets system, leading the team to multiple Playoff appearances and frequently within the top rungs of the seedings.
Drafted seventh in 2016, Jamal signed a 5 year, $158 million contract with the Denver Nuggets in 2020. This huge extension quickly proved to be value for money when the world saw how Jamal took over the Playoffs with his blistering offensive showcase, especially the Utah-Nuggets series when Jamal Murray dueled Donovan Mitchell over several 50-point contests. A hard-nosed competitor and prolific scorer, Jamal is showing signs of furthering his playmaking and defense, which bodes well for the rise of the young Nuggets team.
1. Jayson Tatum - 22 Years Old
Coming from a crop of highly touted college players, Jayson Tatum was not the most flashy or hyped, but his potential was widely accepted. Under the egalitarian system of the Boston Celtics, Jayson found the stability, development, and growth opportunity he needed. From being thrown into the baptism of fire by making a deep Playoffs run without veterans to playing alongside All-Stars like Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, to handling locker room conflicts, Jayson learned early the tricks of the trade.
Drafted third in 2017, the superstar forward and the Boston Celtics have agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $195 million in 2020. This huge contract comes as an affirmation of his great improvement as a leader of the team and also a stamp of approval for picking Jayson as the face of the franchise. He plays the mature team game and uses his basketball IQ to pick apart the rival's system and make the right plays for his teammates and himself. He can play well handling the ball, off the ball, focused on defense, or doing whatever the team needs him to do. Being so young at 22, his upside is limitless as long as he continues that great attitude.
With the league being led by so many up and coming young talent with a huge monetary reward, the league is in a good place for a higher level of competition.
The presence of such maximum contracts also means that the NBA might be seeing bigger motivation for the overall rosters to work harder, play better, and win more as every player jostles for their chance at winning a lucrative new contract in the future.