Unlike everyone else on this list, Lauri Markkanen isn’t fighting for a new contract, or for a spot on the team. We know Markkanen is going to be the featured player on the roster going forward this season and next, but when his deal finally comes due, what is his value going to be?
If he keeps playing as he has been, with 25+ points per game, eight or nine rebounds, and a stellar true-shooting percentage, then you could easily see him warranting around $30 million a year. Especially if he lands himself a second All-Star spot. Then you can really see him warranting that kind of payday.
But if he doesn’t land another All-Star spot, or if he declines in efficiency, then not only do you have to rethink what his contract offer would be, but you have to now put into question the entire direction of the franchise. The reason why the Jazz are seen as potential contenders is due to Markkanen’s growth.
If he stumbles, then the assumption that this team can have a winning record goes out the window. If anyone on this list stumbles and falls, they’ll get replaced or traded. If Markkanen stumbles and falls, the entire team’s direction and future has to be reworked. Few people in the NBA, maybe aside from Luka Doncic and Victor Wembanyama have that much pressure on their shoulders heading into the new season.