Stretch your imagination for a moment to envision the Thunder winning the lottery tonight, as they have only a slim 0.5% chance of doing. The first thought in the minds of GM Sam Presti and other Oklahoma City higher-ups will surely be one of elation. The second thought may force them to swallow hard.
The rookie scale contract for the No. 1 overall pick this year will be worth more than $25.7MM over its four-year span if his team pays him 120% of the rookie scale amount, as is almost certain to happen. That’s about $16.1MM more than the approximately $9.6MM the rookie deal for the 14th overall pick will likely be worth. Naturally, that would be water under the bridge if the top pick turns out to be a superstar, but it seems that for every Anthony Davis, there’s an Anthony Bennett. The costs increase with each rung up the lottery ladder, and while most teams would surely celebrate a leap in draft position tonight, a higher pick carries consequences, particularly for teams like the Thunder, who already seem destined to pay the tax next season.
Below is a look at each lottery pick and the cost of the rookie scale contract associated with it, assuming that the team will pay the standard 120% of the scale amounts. Only the first two seasons of these deals are guaranteed, but it would be quite surprising if a team declined either its third or fourth year team option on its contract with a lottery pick.
Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.