Ranking the Rookie Extensions

The 2013 NBA draft class has yet to produce a single All-Star, but eight of its have signed rookie extensions worth a massive $682 million. Let’s examine each one and grade the deals.

These deals were signed in an admittedly clouded situation, given the ongoing talks between the league and the player’s union on a new CBA. It’s still unclear what, if any, changes will be made to the structure of fourth-year extensions, so teams were understandably hesitant. Still, this year’s deals clearly fall into four tiers.

No-Brainers

Giannis Antetokounmpo- 4 years, $100 million

This is obviously a fantastic deal for Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo was the 15th overall selection three years ago, but would easily be the first selection in any re-draft. He’s gotten better every season and his ceiling is still outrageously high.

The deal looks even better given the fact that the Bucks did not need to use their designated player extension on Antetokounmpo, saving them a little cap space and keeping it in their pocket for Jabari Parker down the line.

CJ McCollum- 4 years, $106 million

Portland has a lot committed to several of its young players, but this was a deal they didn’t mind making. McCollum was the league’s Most Improved player last season after averaging 20.8 points and 4.3 assists per game and gives the Blazers another dynamic scorer to pair with Damian Lillard. It’s still unclear if a Lillard-McCollum backcourt can be good enough defensively, but locking up two 20-point scorers for the next four seasons is an easy call.

Steven Adams- 4 years, $100 million

Adams has taken huge strides the last two seasons and is closing in on becoming one of the best centers in the game. He’s a physical force inside and has developed great pick-and-roll chemistry with Russell Westbrook. He isn’t as mobile as you might like and he’ll never help spread the floor, but, if he can protect the rim at an elite level, this is a great deal.

Leaning Yes, But Hesitant

Rudy Gobert- 4 years, $101 million

The Stifle Tower, or the French Rejection, if you prefer, is good. He was one of the best rim protectors in the game last season: opponents shot just 41 percent at the rim against him, the best mark in the league, according to NBA.com. In a vacuum that would make him worth this deal. But the Jazz still need to figure out if his game can coexist with Derrick Favors and his injury history (he played just 60 games last year after an MCL sprain in December) isn’t perfect.

The Jazz are facing a lot of uncertainty going forward. I like the team they’ve assembled this season, but Gordon Hayward and George Hill can be a free agents this summer and Derrick Favors  will be on an expiring contract next season. This feels like the kind of deal a contending team would make and, while I think the Jazz will get close this season, its hard to know if they’re for real.

Are You Sure?

Victor Oladipo- 4 years, $84 million

This is a tough one. Oladipo clearly has talent and drive. But he’s been very inconsistent and his jumper remains a question mark, making him a tough player to commit to in a league that keeps shooting more threes every year. Still, the Thunder probably couldn’t afford to lose him and he likely would have gotten more than this in restricted free agency. The Thunder clearly wanted to lock in young players now and try to figure it all out later. It’s hard to blame them.

Dennis Schroder- 4 years, $70 million

The Hawks likely decided to make Schroder their point guard of the future when they traded Jeff Teague prior to the draft last June. He came into the league very raw and has shown flashes, but his inconsistency makes this deal a head-scratcher. The Hawks predicament is understandable- its not hard to see a team offering Schroder a max-deal in restricted free agency- but this feels like a big commitment to a player who started just 16 games before this season. His shot comes and goes and his decision-making has seemingly frustrated coach Mike Budenholzer at times. We’ll see if he shines in increased minutes this season.

Rotational Big Men

Cody Zeller- 4 years, $56 million
Gorgui Dieng- 4 years, $64 million

This is the new NBA. These kinds of solid, but unspectacular big man are going to get seven-figure deals. Zeller is deceptively nimble and plays well in a system that demands hard work. Dieng will likely never be great, but he’s developed a solid midrange jumpshot and is more than capable of banging down low and absorbing a few blows to keep Karl Anthony-Towns in one piece.

Again, these deals may seem expensive, but remember that Timofey Mozgov and Joakim Noah are both getting about $16 million for this season and the three after that. Who would you rather have?

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