Nerlens Noel may not have quite the potential that Joel Embiid has obviously, considering Embiid is a significantly better offensive player, but they both were drafted high and had high hopes but have been unable to deliver on their expectations so far. If we decide to pay Noel strictly on potential, we can throw max money at him right now. That’s not how it works though.
Joel Embiid is an offensive threat the second he gets the ball. A very talented player on both ends of the court, Embiid has insane potential in the league. He is still on his rookie contract so its not a perfect comparison in that aspect either, but if Noel can reach the potential that was seen in him out of college, he will be a premier player in the league.
The next example I am going to go with is JaVale McGee, a former Dallas Maverick. This would be an example of a player who never fully met their potential as McGee has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, but also flashes of insanity. The fact that he is now 29 and shown that he is not ready to be a consistent player definitely affects his 1-year, $1.4 million contract.
Lastly, I may stretch it a little bit with the potential that was seen in now retired center, DeSagana Diop. Diop was a highly touted recruit out of high school when he was selected 8th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Diop took a few years to develop before finding his stride as a defensive expert in Dallas. Diop played until 2013 with the biggest contract being a 6-year, $32 million deal. Again, an imperfect comparison, but fun nevertheless.
Clearly it is impossible to determine the value of Nerlens Noel based on contracts around the rest of the league, but it is interesting to see how well other players are paid though. If you want to base Noel off a contract like Steven Adams then it is clear that he should be getting max money. But, if you base more off of his career to date, then the question of how much gets a little more interesting.