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NBA AM: Unexpected Big Paydays Of 2017?

We know the stars will get paid, but each year there are unexpected players who get big raises too.

Lang Greene



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Unheralded Players Potentially Headed for a Big Payday

The 2017 unrestricted free agency class will be headlined by Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, but notables such as Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry and Gordon Hayward have player options and can enter the frenzy as well.

All of the above guys, barring injury, are going to command top dollar. Without question.

However, there will be a group of unexpected guys headed for a large payday as teams will look to find the next diamond in the rough. We saw it this past summer with players like Tyler Johnson, Allan Crabbe and Evan Turner commanding large deals on the open market.

With the salary cap expected to endure another bump upward next summer, you can expect there will be another crop of unheralded guys inking lucrative contracts.

Let’s take a look at some candidates who could walk away from next summer with a somewhat unexpected fortune:

Jonathan Simmons, Guard-Forward, San Antonio Spurs
2015-16 Stats: 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 50% FG, 38% 3PT
2017 Free Agency Status: Restricted

As a rookie last season, Simmons played in just 55 games on a stacked Spurs squad that rolled off more than 60 victories. But his per-36-minute averages of 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists speak volumes on what Simmons could potentially offer in a bigger role. For a recent example of how reserve guys in San Antonio that play the good soldier fare in free agency, look no further than center Boban Marjanovic.

Marjanovic inked a three-year, $21 million deal with Detroit earlier this summer after a rookie campaign of logging just 508 minutes of court time in 54 appearances. Of course, the Pistons are banking on the 7’3 center’s upside, but Simmons could be next up to receive an unexpected big deal in 2017.

Andre Roberson, Guard-Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder
2015-16 Stats: 4.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 50% FG, 31% 3PT
2017 Free Agency Status: Restricted

Roberson upped his average points (5.6) and rebounds (5.6) per game during last season’s playoffs and his role should be bigger this season after guard Dion Waiters’ departure in free agency. Yes, Roberson has his limitations as a shooter, but he is a strong perimeter defender who can guard multiple positions on the floor. Also, Roberson had an exceptional Western Conference Finals, averaging nine points and 7.4 rebounds on 44 percent shooting from three-point range.

The Thunder have other priorities next summer with guys such as Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams eyeing free agency. Will their presence be what’s needed for Roberson to slip through the cracks and secure a larger deal elsewhere?

James McAdoo, Forward, Golden State Warriors
2015-16 Stats: 2.9 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 54% FG
2017 Free Agency Status: Restricted

While Golden State may have won free agency this summer by securing Kevin Durant’s autograph on a new contract, the team took a hit with their usual depth in the process. Gone are guys such as Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Rush, Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights.

McAdoo has played sparingly in his first two seasons, but there is a prime opportunity for the forward to secure meaningful minutes in the rotation each night. With the Warriors expected to be in the title hunt, this could serve as a perfect opportunity for McAdoo to showcase his skills while improving his market value for next summer in the process.

Jared Sullinger, Center, Toronto Raptors
2015-16 Stats: 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 44% FG, 28% 3PT
2017 Free Agency Status: Unrestricted

Sullinger is expected to assume the backup center duties behind Jonas Valanciunas. This is not a bad spot for Sullinger considering the fact Bismack Biyombo received a four-year, $70-plus million deal in Orlando this summer after primarily serving as Valanciunas’ backup.

Sullinger signed a one-year deal with his eye on 2017 free agency. Toronto represents a great locale for Sullinger and his monetary pursuits.

Shaun Livingston, Guard, Golden State Warriors
2015-16 Stats: 6.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 54% FG
2017 Free Agency Status: Unrestricted

The 30-year-old Livingston has carved out a niche as one of the best backup point guards in the game today. Livingston’s versatility will have him in high demand next summer. With Steph Curry (definite) and Kevin Durant (likely) headed to free agency in 2017, expect the veteran guard to do his due diligence and fully explore his market value.

Michael Beasley, Forward, Houston Rockets
2015-16 Stats: 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 52% FG, 33% 3PT
2017 Free Agency Status: Unrestricted

We have been down this road with Beasley before. He puts together a solid season of work, raises expectations and then struggles the following year. Inconsistency has plagued Beasley, but there’s no denying he’s an above-average scorer when locked in.

Beasley, 27, is still young enough to change the narrative of his career up until this point and he will have every opportunity in Houston this season to prove his worth before free agency in 2017.


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Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders



From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

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We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

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#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz



With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler



What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:


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