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What Former No. 1 Overall Picks Are Making

The contractual path for a No. 1 overall pick in the NBA is fairly well-scripted. First comes a bargain rookie scale contract, then a five-year max extension that forestalls restricted free agency, and finally a chance to hit the unrestricted free agent market. It’s that last step that’s proved difficult. Seven of the last eight No. 1 overall picks are still on either their rookie deals or maximum-salary rookie extensions, but only two former No. 1 picks are playing on max deals that they negotiated as unrestricted free agents. Just as many former No. 1 picks are making the minimum salary this season.

That’s partly because not every No. 1 pick turns out to be worth the max, or even worth the full value of a rookie scale contract, as the case of Anthony Bennett proves. The five No. 1 picks taken between Tim Duncan in 1997 and LeBron James in 2003 are no longer playing in the NBA. That says as much about No. 1 picks as it does about the endurance of Duncan, one of five active former No. 1 picks to sign a contract or an extension this past offseason. He probably could have commanded more than what he received from the Spurs this past summer if he were willing to entertain the thought of leaving the only NBA team he’s ever played for.

The list below shows what each active former No. 1 pick is making this season, rounded to the nearest $1K, along with information on the contract that produced that salary. The team listed is the player’s current team, not necessarily the team that drafted him.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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