When Nerlens Noel decided to sign the Mavs' Qualifying Offer, he decided to bet on himself and put himself into an interesting situation. The 6'11" 23-year-old wants to show what he can do and prove his durability during the 2017-18 NBA season. If he is able to come through on the court, he will get paid when next summer's free agent frenzy heats up.
To do so, Noel is going to have to significantly increase the games that he plays in and the minutes he logs.
For the upcoming season, 40 NBA players will be paid at least $20M...a possible annual starting point for Noel's next contract. Those 40 players played an average of 72 games and 33 minutes per game.
During the 2016-17 season, Noel played a meager 51 games and an average of 20.5 minutes between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Mavs. After missing his rookie season in Philly, the Big Man from Malden, Mass has played fewer games in each successive season: From 75 in 2014-15 to 67 in 2015-16 and 51 this past year.
If you want to bring this into clearer focus, here are the game-playing stats for some of the other Young Bigs in the league that are getting paid over $20M/yr:
And, obviously, this doesn't take into consideration actual productivity. We can look at this another time.
I would LOVE the Mavs to lock up Nerlens Noel next summer....IF (and that's a big if) he shows that he isn't physically frail and he can stay on the court.