Ranking the NBA players most likely to earn a supermax extension

A supermax contract in the NBA accounts for 35 percent of the salary cap. Only a select few players are eligible; here are the candidates to watch out for.
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
3 of 6

Best NBA supermax candidates: 4. Bam Adebayo, Heat

Is Bam Adebayo the best defender in the NBA? It's a fair question, and it's why the Miami Heat will sign him to the maximum allowed contract when the time comes. He has not made All-NBA yet, but Adebayo's first Defensive Player of the Year award is only a matter of time. Next season feels like a solid bet.

Adebayo is the perfect modern center on the defensive end. He can handle the physicality of Joel Embiid in the post, or he can chase Trae Young over screens on the perimeter. Adebayo is one of the few true five-position defenders, a switch-everything cheat code around which the entire Heat defensive apparatus revolves.

Despite a cruddy eighth-seed finish, the Heat found themselves in the NBA Finals for the second time in three years this summer. Adebayo generally gets shoved out of the spotlight in favor of Jimmy Butler, whose bravado and shot-making talent is more camera-friendly, but Adebayo is neck-and-neck with Butler in terms of importance to Miami's success. He completely changes the calculus of the opposing offense and he's a talented offensive player in his own right.

Last season was Adebayo's best to date. He averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on 54.0 percent shooting. He's still rounding out of the rough edges of his scoring profile — the pull-up middies are a work in progress, the 3-point shot isn't there yet, and he doesn't always finish strong in the paint — but he's a nimble face-up scorer with genuine passing equity at the five spot. He's a genuine star and a worthy supermax candidate if he meets the criteria.