There are plenty of bargains to be found in the NBA, where many young, emerging stars are far exceeding the value of their contracts. We’ve surveyed the Association and have identified the five best bargain-basement players.
5. Mitchell Robinson ($1.5 million)
It isn’t often we have a reason to praise the Knicks, but they managed to unearth a gem in Mitchell Robinson. The human pogo stick is averaging 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 21.2 minutes per game and has been one of the very few reasons to watch the Knickerbockers this season. The next step in Mitchell’s development will be improving his discipline on defense, as “The Block Ness Monster” has a troubling habit of biting on every pump fake in a three-mile radius.
4. Duncan Robinson ($1.4 million)
You didn’t think we’d stop at just one Robinson, did you? Mitchell’s brother from another mother has increased his scoring average from 3.3 points to 10.9 points per game in his sophomore season, and he has become a critical part of Erik Spoelstra’s rotation, thanks to his outstanding marksmanship. Like many young players Robinson’s defense remains a work in progress, but Heat staffers have been impressed with his dedication to his craft and believe he can become a plus defender with a little more seasoning.
3. Kendrick Nunn ($1.4 million)
Although the Warriors deserve credit for snagging Eric Pascahall, they should be hanging their heads in shame for passing up on Nunn. The undrafted rookie averaged 19.3 points per game last season with the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, but failed to earn a call-up to the big club because of luxury-tax concerns and a lack of roster flexibility. Golden State’s loss has been Miami’s gain, as the fearless guard is averaging 15.3 points per game and was recently named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month.
2. Eric Paschall ($898,310)
The Warriors are off to their worst start in 21 years, but the season hasn’t been a total loss, thanks to the presence of Eric Paschall. The Villanova grad is averaging 16.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game and is second among all rookies in points and player efficiency. That’s not bad for an undersized power forward who was taken with the 41st pick in the NBA Draft. Paschall has already led the Warriors in scoring seven times this season and should slot in nicely as a high-energy, low-maintenance sixth man, once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return from their long layoffs.
1. Pascal Siakam ($2.3 million)
Siakam’s monster four-year, $130 million deal will kick in next year, but for for now he’s earning just $2.3 million. That’s a remarkable bargain for an NBA champ who is averaging 24.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game and has become one of the most lethal two-way threats in the league. Siakam’s production has helped to keep the Raptors near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, despite the loss of Kawhi Leonard and a pair of early season injuries to Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.