10. Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves (R)
2013-2014: $4,002,120 (Team Option)
2014-2015: $5,070,686 (Team Option)
2015-2016: $6,723,730 (Qualifying Offer)
Although his torn ACL clearly lowers his value, Rubio’s brief stint in the NBA proved he can be one of the elite point guards in the NBA right now. But because he stayed in Spain for two seasons after Minnesota drafted him, he’s still got three more seasons on his rookie deal – which means, for the time being, Rubio could be really underpaid. Then again, if his ACL just doesn’t hold up and he loses that signature quickness, we might have to swallow our words. But we’ll put our money on the former.
9. Serge Ibaka – Serge Ibaka (R)
2013-2014: $3,293,976 (Qualifying Offer)
The 2012 postseason was Serge Ibaka’s coming out party – even though he had an excellent regular season, it was in the playoffs when his rim-patroling proved its most effective. Once he develops a consistent jump shot, Ibaka will be one of the most value big men in the NBA. Both he and James Harden will be restricted free agents next summer, and both of them will get paid. OKC, however, will most likely not be able to afford both, so the question now becomes whom they value more. Either way, Ibaka’s looking a huge payday in the near future. But for now, he’s stuck at $2.2 million as Sam Presti smiles somewhere.
8. Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets (R)
2013-2014: $3,610,686 (Qualifying Offer)
Lawson outmuscled fellow UNC alum Ray Felton for the starting point guard job in Denver and sent his career into a tailspin. Meanwhile, the Nuggets excelled in the post-Melo reign, with Lawson leading the run ‘n gun offense. Against the Lakers in this past year’s playoffs, Lawson dropped 32 points, handed out six assists and grabbed five boards in a must-win Game 5. He may not be an elite NBA point guard, but he’s easily in that second tier and looking at a number of suitors offering serious cash come restricted free agency next year.