Nerlens Noel is only 23 years old right now. A member of the 2013 NBA Draft class, Noel is finally off of his rookie deal and ready to spread his wings a little bit. Because of the fact that Noel is just now finishing up his rookie deal, the numbers are a little bit skewed with other 23 year olds. For that reason, I opened it up to a few years of variance.
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The first name on the list is a big one. Andre Drummond was a big name in NBA news last year after signing a monster, 5-year, $127 million contract with the Detroit Pistons. The contract was a bit overblown, but Drummond had proven his worth after leading the NBA in every important rebounding category the previous season. He was also an All-Star and selected to the All-NBA third team of 2016. Both very notable accomplishments.
Next up, we have Steven Adams, who signed a big $100 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This one was a little more of a head scratcher as Steven Adams had proven to have value but, at 24-years old, Adams really had no major accomplishments in the league. Unless looking like the villain in the Disney movie, Mulan, counts for something.
After these two, the list narrows significantly. Joel Embiid, Clint Capela, and Willy Hernangomez are all 23-years old and have looked good in their time in the league, but all are still under their rookie contracts. The next big contract would be 25-year old, Rudy Gobert, who has a very expensive contract with the Utah Jazz. He, however, has made an All-NBA Second Team and an All-NBA First Team. Jonas Valanciunas is also 25 and makes $16 million a year.
Clearly there are young players with big contracts in the league, but most of them have at least proven their worth at this point. Noel still has yet to give the league an idea of what his real potential can be.