Trae Young might be amid the worst start in his career, but over his career, he’s been one of the most underpaid NBA players in history. Per HoopsHype, Young ranks as the No. 8 most underpaid dating back to 1990.
The site uses a metric called Real Value to estimate how much each player should be paid based strictly on on-court impact, so intangibles aren’t accounted for. The ranking is based on the difference in dollars between career earnings and Real Value. Here’s what they had to say about Young:
Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 0-4
Real Value: $102,941,899
Career earnings: $26,534,551
Difference: $76,407,348 (287.95 percent)
Similar to Doncic, Trae Young has been an All-Star, borderline All-NBA-level guy from his second season on, which, unfortunately for him was during his time on a rookie-scale contract.
Young was most underpaid in 2020-21 when he put up 25.3 points and 9.4 assists while making $6.6 million, $24.4 million less than the $31.0 million Real Value believes he was worth that season.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Hawks were able to reach the Eastern Conference Finals that year, with Young on such a value contract.
Trae Young might be averaging nearly 29 points and 10 assists, but it’s on the least efficient shooting splits of his career. But this extended shooting slump won’t last; he’s an absolute gem.
Now, some of the HoopsHype list is comprised of players outperforming rookie contracts. Young has been a bright light since being drafted by Atlanta a handful of years ago; he’s certainly outperformed his rookie contract, but that difference will shrink dramatically in the coming seasons.
Coming off a season in which Ice Trae averaged 28.4 points on the best shooting of his career — 46% from the field, 38.2% from beyond the arc, and 90.4% from the free throw line — the Hawks committed to him with a supermax. His All-NBA honors earned him an extra $34.5 million. Making an All-NBA team triggers a clause in the designated rookie maximum extension that increases his projected salary from $172.5 million to $207 million over the next five seasons.
This is a pretty interesting experiment, especially considering the most underpaid player since 1990 is LeBron James. The highest-paid player ever is also the most underpaid, speaking volumes about his impact over the last two seasons.
Seasons overpaid vs. underpaid: 3-16
Real Value: $629,352,546
Career earnings: $390,511,090
Difference: $238,841,456 (61.16 percent)
Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire