NBA99: Ranking the 6 best contract values in the NBA this season

These six players deserve to be paid more lucrative contracts, considering their on-court production and contributions to team success.
Boston Celtics v Utah Jazz
Boston Celtics v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

In light of FanSided releasing its NBA99, ranking the top 99 performers of the 2023-24 season, we're building a separate list looking at some of the best contract values in the league.

For the purpose of this writing, young stars still on their rookie contracts, like Tyrese Haliburton, Paolo Banchero, and Jalen Williams, were not considered because of how clearly above their pay grade they play.

These players may not receive the national recognition they deserve or don’t stand out in the box score on a nightly basis, even though they make massively underrated contributions to the overall success of their team, to the point where they are making the contracts they previously signed look like bargains.

Without these guys out-producing their salaries, the outlook of their respective teams would look completely different.

6. Jarrett Allen, Big, Cleveland Cavaliers

Heading into this season, many pegged All-Star point guard Darius Garland and 2022-23 Defensive Player of the Year finalist Evan Mobley as the two most likely players to emerge as the second option for the Cleveland Cavaliers behind Donovan Mitchell, but Jarrett Allen had other ideas.

Allen looked the part of an All-Star center despite not being selected to participate in the festivities in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been a constant for a Cavs team that battled injuries all season long and managed to keep themselves out of the Play-In Tournament.

Cleveland ranked sixth in the league in defensive efficiency this season, and Allen’s presence in the paint has been a crucial factor. He averaged 1.1 blocks per game and disrupted opposing offenses using his length, athleticism, and feel for the game, even when he’s not swatting shots.

Moreover, he has taken his game to new heights on the offensive side of the floor, averaging career-highs in points (16.5) and assists (2.7) per game. His improved playmaking combined with his off-ball activity will always make him a lob threat, and his tenacity on the glass (sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounds) has turned Allen into an excellent counterpart for Mitchell — their play styles mesh well together.

Earning $20 million for 2023-24, Allen’s net rating (6.8) is closer to All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns (8.0) than it is to center Myles Turner (4.1), who is making nearly $21 million this season — Towns is making roughly twice that amount. 

5. Herb Jones, Wing, New Orleans Pelicans

Arguably the best perimeter defender in the league, Herb Jones profiles as the prototypical 3-and-D wing, the most highly coveted skill set around the NBA.

Jones’ offensive game is beginning to catch up, making him a vitally important and valuable player for the New Orleans Pelicans. He is someone who should strike fear into his opponents.

A tenacious and versatile defender who thrives in on and off-ball roles thanks to his relentless motor and incredible 7-foot wingspan, Jones will be a perennial All-Defensive team candidate for years to come. He can guard every position on the floor thanks to his unique blend of size, quickness, athleticism, and an incredible sense of forecasting a player’s next move.

Shooting a career-high 41.8 percent from beyond the arc on a career-high 3.6 attempts per game, Jones has increased his accuracy from long distance by roughly 10 percentage points compared to his first two seasons as a pro while shooting 3s at a higher rate than ever.

New Orleans signed Jones to a four-year, $53.8 million contract extension last offseason, which has looked like a tremendous bargain considering his impact on both ends of the floor. Remarkably, Jones is only beginning to scratch the surface of his capabilities, and it is even more striking that the Pelicans have him under control at such a team-friendly cost for the foreseeable future.

4. Grayson Allen, Guard, Phoenix Suns

Could it be possible that the Phoenix Suns were the winners of the three-team trade that sent Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks? Phoenix receiving Grayson Allen as part of the deal has proven to be an incredible addition to a Suns roster that has needed someone other than Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal to provide a scoring boost.

Allen is an efficient shooter, leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (46.1) and finishing within striking distance of 50/40/90 shooting splits (he shot 49.9 percent from the field and made 87.8 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe) -- his ability to space the floor has opened up so much for Phoenix’s star trio, making him a pivotal piece of the puzzle for the Suns.

However, Allen has shown he can do more than shoot the ball, averaging a career-high 3.0 assists (setting a single-game best with 14 on Feb. 8 against the Utah Jazz) while providing adequate perimeter defense.

With a base salary of $8.5 million this season, Allen is criminally underpaid, considering his production and contribution to Phoenix’s success. As a sign of just how underpaid he was this year, the Suns just signed him to a four-year, $70 million contract extension this offseason, and that still might be a bargain.

3. Coby White, Guard, Chicago Bulls

Coby White is on the shortlist of contenders for this season’s NBA Most Improved Player of the Year, but perhaps no player this season has seen their career trajectory take a turn for the better than the Chicago Bulls guard has.

When the Bulls signed White to a three-year, $36 million contract extension last summer, it felt like a reasonable price for a player they drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. However, he has blown the value of his contract out of the water this season, looking like a player who deserves to make twice as much money as he currently is.

Amid the uncertainty surrounding Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine and their futures in Chicago, White has developed into a starting-caliber guard, which has helped ease the burden of being without two key backcourt players for much of the season.

Nearly doubling his nightly scoring output from last season (9.7), White averaged 19.1 points while shooting a career-high 37.6 percent from beyond the arc while attempting 7.0 3s per game.

A skilled ball-handler with shooting touch, athleticism, speed, and ideal size for a combo guard (6-foot-5,195 pounds), White possesses the physical tools and draft pedigree to suggest this isn’t a fluke – he was just a late bloomer. His ability to stop and start on a dime while being a blur in transition and a threat to pull up from virtually anywhere makes him incredibly difficult for opposing teams to defend.

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2. Donte DiVincenzo

After the New York Knicks used their entire non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign veteran combo Donte DiVincenzo this offseason to reunite with his former college teammates from Villanova, Jalen Brunson, and Josh Hart, he has proved to be an extremely valuable signing.

Trailing only Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic in total 3-pointers made this season (283), DiVincenzo has been a flamethrower for the Knicks, shooting 40.1 percent from beyond the arc on 8.7 attempts per game. His ability to stretch the floor for New York has created space for Brunson, Hart, Julius Randle, and company to thrive in the paint.

DDV’s ability to handle the ball and facilitate for others as a secondary playmaker has taken some of the pressure off Brunson and allowed him to operate off the ball more, a role he’s proven he can use to his advantage. Moreover, his defensive prowess as a high-energy player who can guard multiple positions has helped him develop an indispensable asset for the team.

In hindsight, it’s hard to understand why no one outbid the Knicks for DiVincenzo, who has an average annual salary worth roughly $11.7 million (earning $10.9 million in 2023-24). Alas, he and Brunson have formed an incredible backcourt tandem, which has paved the way for New York to be a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

A proven winner at every stage of his basketball career who happens to be a knockdown shooter and solid defender, DiVincenzo has been one of the best values of the season.

1. Derrick White

Derrick White has been an integral part of a Boston Celtics team that looks like they’re in a class of their own as title contenders this season. Based on the advanced stats, White has a case to be considered Boston’s second most valuable player. 

Averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.0 steals while shooting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc on 6.8 attempts per game, White is enjoying a breakout campaign. 

An All-Defensive guard whose offensive game is beginning to catch up, White’s impact on the success of the Celtics isn’t always reflected in the box score, as is reflected by him garnering All-Star consideration this season despite his counting stats being good but not great.

White is a player whose national recognition and perception do not align with how he is viewed across the league and in the media. His two-way prowess has made all the difference for a Celtics team that has been virtually unstoppable in 2023-24 and is one of the main reasons they are the consensus favorites to win the championship. He is outperforming his $17.6 million salary season by a wide margin.

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