Ahead of opening night for the 2020-21 NBA season, teams still had a bit of business to take care of in the form of rookie extensions. Monday was the deadline for extending players from the 2017 NBA Draft class, and a number of deals came in under the wire.
Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick from that draft, re-upped with the Magic, who also extended Jonathan Isaac. Meanwhile, there were new offers for Spurs guard Derrick White, Raptors forward OG Anunoby and Clippers swingman Luke Kennard. Those come in addition to a number of extensions that were agreed to prior to deadline day.
There were also some notable players who did not get extensions, including Lonzo Ball, John Collins, Lauri Markkanen, Zach Collins and Jarrett Allen. Those guys could still end up re-signing with their teams, but they will hit restricted free agency at the end of this season.
With all of the action wrapped up, here's a closer look at all of the rookie extensions that were handed out this offseason:
Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic: Four years, $80 million
Isaac is out for the season due to a torn ACL he suffered in the bubble last summer, which was actually the second major knee injury for him in less than a year. But even with his unfortunate health history, he's still a huge part of the Magic's future, as this extension shows. Whatever concerns there might be about him moving forward, the potential reward far outweighs the risk.
When healthy, Isaac is one of the most intriguing young players in the league. His offense was coming along nicely last season, but the real excitement about Isaac thanks is because of his seemingly limitless potential on the defensive end. There aren't many players with Isaac's combination of size and athleticism, which allows him to not only protect the rim, but switch and guard players on the perimeter.
In the 34 games he did manage to play last season, Isaac was putting up 2.3 blocks and 1.6 steals per game. The only other player in the league averaging at least two blocks and one steal? Anthony Davis, who finished as the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.
Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs: Four years, $73 million
White burst onto the scene in the 2019 playoffs, when he helped the Spurs push the Nuggets to seven games in the first round. Though the Spurs' historic 22-year playoff streak came to an end last season, White's development did not. He was especially impressive in the bubble, when he took control of Spurs' offense, and helped them nearly sneak into the play-in tournament.
With DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge still in town, White isn't going to be the main man for the Spurs this season. But this extension signals that they see him as an important part of their future, and for good reason. He's well-rounded on the offensive end, where he can score efficiently and run the offense, and is also a potential All-Defense player moving forward.
Four years and $73 million for White might have a lot of people scratching their head, but he's one of the most underrated guards in the league. This deal was well worth it for the Spurs, and it should take White long to show why that's the case.
OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors: Four years, $72 million
In one of the most memorable plays of last season's playoffs, OG Aununoby temporarily saved the Raptors' season by draining a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the Celtics in Game 3 of the second round. While his teammates mobbed him and the internet exploded, Anunoby barely reacted. "I expected to make it," Anunoby said of his heroic shot. "I don't shoot trying to miss. Every shot I shoot I try to make it. So, I wasn't going to act surprised, because I wasn't surprised."
That's the kind of confidence that has helped Anunoby become an integral part of the Raptors' core, both now and in the future. A prototypical 3-and-D player, he shot 39 percent from downtown last season, and is willing and able to guard whoever head coach Nick Nurse asks him to guard. He's not the flashiest player, or someone who's going to get you 25 points on a regular basis, but he's exactly the type of guy you want and need on a winning team. The Raptors getting him for just $18 million per year is honestly a steal.
Luke Kennard, Los Angeles Clippers: Four years, $64 million
A former lottery pick, Kennard has become something of a forgotten man over the past few seasons, due to a combination of playing for a bad Pistons team and often being hurt. . He's managed just 88 games in the last two seasons combined, with ongoing knee issues the main culprit. In handing him $64 million before he's played a meaningful game for the team, the Clippers must be confident those concerns are behind him.
If so, this will end up being a good bit of business for the Clippers. Because when he can get on the court, Kennard can play, and will be a perfect fit alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. A career 40.2 percent 3-point shooter, Kennard is a real spot-up threat, but he's more than capable of playing with the ball in his hands as well. While not a true point guard by any means, he's another playmaker, which the Clippers really needed -- someone who can get his own shot, but also create for others. Before going down with injury last season, he was averaging a career-high 4.1 assists per game.
Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic: Three years, $50 million
Fultz has had an entire career's worth of drama and intrigue packed into his first three seasons, but he's emerged from it all with a big three-year, $50 million extension from the Magic. Obviously he hasn't lived up to the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick, but in the relative anonymity of Orlando, he's gotten his career back on track -- at least to the point where it's worth it to give him an extension and see if he continues to improve.
Finally healthy, Fultz played 72 games last season, and though the jumper is still not there, his free throw percentage climbed to 73 percent, suggesting some of his confidence has returned. And even without the outside shot, his quickness and athleticism allows him to get downhill and put pressure on the defense, both by finishing at the rim and creating for others.
There are still some holes in Fultz's game, but he's shown he belongs in the league, which wasn't a guarantee a few years ago.
Notable players who did not sign an extension
- Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets
- Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
- John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
- Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers
- Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls