Every offseason, there are overpaid NBA free agents that leave fans scratching their heads. I’ll start by prefacing that this cycle of free agency has been much tamer than previous years. We’re far removed from 2016 when limited role player Timofey Mozgov got a 64 million dollar contract. But there are still cases every year when someone makes more than their value. In this piece, I’ll take a look at the three most overpaid NBA free agents from this year so far.
The Three Most Overpaid NBA Free Agents
Jarrett Allen: 5 Years, $100 Million
Jarrett Allen is number one on this list, and it’s not necessarily his fault. The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Allen in January, knowing he was on an expiring contract. With Collin Sexton and Darius Garland presumably the backcourt of the future, the Cavs needed a reliable big, and Allen fit the bill as a walking double-double. But when the Cavaliers took center Evan Mobley third overall in the draft, it created a logjam at the position.
Allen is 6′ 11″ who plays more of an old-school big man game. He’s excellent in the pick and roll and has increased his points per game every year. Mobley is a slim 7′ 0″ but has more of an offensive skill set than Allen. Both are incredible shot blockers, but Mobley has the length and ability to cover the perimeter. The issue with Mobley is he needs to expand his moves in the post and improve his 30 percent clip from three that he shot in college. Particularly if the Cavaliers want him to play the stretch-four position.
This is a team that already has Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr in the frontcourt for 2021. And despite Love wishing to play elsewhere since 2019, the Cavs have remained committed to him and his gargantuan contract. Allen will presumably start while Mobley comes off the bench and works his way into being a starting stretch four. With Sexton being in a messy contract situation, it’s fair to think the Cavs could’ve made this less messy by taking one of the other top prospects on the board. That said if they trade Love and his contract, the signing can be salvaged. If they trade Sexton or let him walk, the signing should be viewed as costly.
Doug McDermott: 3 Years, $42 Million
Doug McDermott is a perfect example that if you can shoot threes, you’ll get paid in today’s NBA. I’ll give McDermott his due, he’s a career 40.7 percent shooter from deep in his seven-year career. On top of that, he’s coming off his best season where he had a 61.6 percent effective field goal percentage. All that aside, he ranked 390th out of 533 players in defensive rating last season. His career defensive rating is a subpar 113.4. Last season the San Antonio Spurs ranked in the middle of the pack in defensive rating. So this move doesn’t figure to help that at all.
The Spurs making McDermott one of the overpaid NBA free agents is confusing with the talent in place already. Second-year lottery pick Devin Vassell was drafted to be a three and d wing. And although he didn’t live up to expectations last year, the Spurs should be patient with him. In his career, McDermott has only played starting minutes once and that was last year. The Spurs are taking a gamble that last year wasn’t a fluke.
McDermott thrives on catch-and-shoot situations or shooting off of ball screens. For his skills to be maximized, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White have to step up as playmakers. The Spurs have been under .500 for two straight years and are stuck in mediocrity. They were 22nd in three-point percentage last year, so McDermott should help that at least. Reggie Bullock got 30 million dollars over three years and plays the same role as McDermott. A contract like that would’ve been much more realistic.
Zach Collins: 3 Years, $22 Million
To conclude the list, we have another signee of the Spurs. On the surface, a 7.3 million dollar average doesn’t seem overpaid in the slightest. But Zach Collins has yet to show he’s the player the Portland Trail Blazers drafted in confidence over all-stars Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo in 2017. Most notably, Collins is returning from an ankle injury that saw him play his last game in the Orlando bubble. He missed the entire 2020-21 season.
The ankle injury required three surgeries in ten months. To commit three years to someone coming off that severe of an injury is perplexing. It only gets more mystifying when you consider he’s making more annually than contributors to the 2020 NBA champs Bobby Portis and P.J. Tucker.
Collins was a high draft pick out of college for a reason. In his one year at Gonzaga, he shot 65.2 percent from the floor and was almost unguardable whence he established position in the paint. Unfortunately, his offensive skill set hasn’t evolved much since entering the league, and he still lacks a jump shot. The Spurs have Keldon Johnson and Thaddeus Young to man the stretch four spots, so Collins could see most of his minutes at center. His defensive rating dipped by ten points from 2018-19 to 2019-20. Time will tell if the 23-year-old can recover from this setback and put the pieces of his game together.
Overpaid NBA Free Agents Will Have A Chip On Their Shoulder
All three of the players on this list will have something to prove in 2021. Allen will look to prove he can play alongside Mobley and that a center who can’t shoot is worth 20 million. McDermott will look to prove he wasn’t a fluke with the Indiana Pacers and help open up driving lanes for Murray and White. And Collins will look to rewrite his bust narrative and prove at just 23, he has a lot of room left for growth. Until October, Spurs, and Cavaliers fans will be left holding their breath.