Former Kansas teammates Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins have just been signed to max deals by each of their teams. Are the rising stars worth this kind of money so young?
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: 5 years – $148 Million
After an amazing but short lived rookie season last year, Embiid looked dominant in the preseason and will look to carry his efficient play into opening night. Along the way, he sealed a huge 5 year deal with the Sixers, and looks primed to lead his team for a decade. The Cameroonian big man only appeared in 31 games for Philly last season, but he was able to prove himself as one of the top centers in the game in that little time. With limited minutes, he posted over 20 points a game and had some of the most efficient advanced metrics in the league. With more looks and sharpshooting teammates this season, Embiid will be a monster in the paint. As for defense, it’s possible we could see Embiid eclipse 3.0 BPG very soon, as his length, athleticism, and size at 7’2″ gives him an inside advantage against almost any matchup. As if we weren’t already sure, this deal makes it a certainty. Jahlil Okafor’s time with the 76ers will be ending shortly. There’s no room in the frontcourt for the former Duke star and his play style and slow feet will make success in the NBA hard to come by. Despite a solid offensive rookie year for Okafor, Embiid is the superstar in Philly for now and the future. This signing is just the next step in this team’s rise to the top of the East.
Signing Grade: A+
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 years – $146.5 Million
About to head into his fourth year in the league, Wiggins is now part of a three-headed monster in Minnesota. Jimmy Butler has joined Karl Anthony-Towns along with Wiggins on a Minnesota team craving a playoff appearance. After putting up over 23 a game last season, Wiggins’ point total may decrease a bit with his new star teammate, though his importance and skill will not. The 22 year old has once-in-a-generation athleticism and an incredibly high defensive potential. If Wiggins takes that side of the ball more seriously, he could be First Team All-Defense in no time. Work could also be done on his jumper. Wiggins shot 36% from deep last year, solid, but he can be even better as his career goes on. If he’s able to become a 40%+ guy, it will massively help a Wolves team in dire need of shooting. After receiving ROTY honors in his first season, Wiggins should start garnering some attention as a possible All-Star. With little money now left to give in Minnesota, former first-round draft pick Shabazz Muhammed will have to find a new team next season. Now in a situation with stars around him and veteran role players to help him expand his game, Wiggins could emerge as a true superstar soon.
Signing Grade: A-