Few phrases carry the same weight as "max contract" through basketball circles, particularly under the more stringent salary-cap guidelines of the current collective bargaining agreement.
Trust me, those two words are worth an addition to your hoops vernacular in preparation of the upcoming free-agent frenzy.
Even after a tumultuous debut season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard seems guaranteed for a massive payday this summer. But will those same astronomical contract figures be granted to either John Wall or Josh Smith? Is there still a team willing to take a max-deal gamble on the hobbled Andrew Bynum?
These are all questions that will be addressed in the coming months.
But in the case of one potential superstar—a player who's yet to log even a single minute of college (let alone pro) basketball—it's only a matter of when, not if, that massive contract offer sheet slides across the negotiating table. Via Grantland's Zach Lowe:
Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA
@adammcginnis @TrueHoop There are execs who have told me they'd pay him the max right now.2013-5-14 16:34:15
Granted, this is completely stricken to the hypothetical realm at this point.
Andrew Wiggins, the top-ranked player of the 2013 recruiting class, of course isn't actually eligible for any NBA contract for another year. Thus the reason for his recent commitment to the University of Kansas.
A 6'8", do-it-all small forward, Wiggins is a dynamic athlete making incredible strides in all facets of his game. Eric Bossi of Rivals.com hails him as "perhaps the top defender in high school basketball," while his future coach Bill Self labeled him as "an assassin, an alpha dog."
Genetics surely benefited his athletic side. His father, Mitchell, was the 23rd pick of the 1983 NBA draft and scored nearly 4,000 points in his six-year career. His mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, was a Canadian Olympic sprinter and silver medalist.
But athletic ability only accounted for so much of the 23.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists he averaged during his senior season at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. Multiple comparisons to reigning MVP LeBron James best hint at the versatile skill set of this explosive finisher, Via ESPN's Numbers Never Lie:
His And Hers @HisAndHers
Andrew Wiggins' senior year of high school compared to @KingJames' senior year. Could he be an heir to the throne? http://t.co/ucdUxk4ztq2013-5-14 21:58:04
He can shoot from all angles of the court, has improved his ball-handling skills tremendously, and understands how to maximize his athletic gifts on both ends of the floor.
But it's his humble approach (he didn't want to make his commitment a national spectacle, which of course only added to the intrigue) that suggests he's willing to put in the work to maximize his oozing hoops potential.
The question is: Just where does this 18-year-old's ceiling rest? If pro executives are already lining up to roll out the max-contract red carpet, Andrew Wiggins could be a once-in-a-generation type of talent.