Today marks the annual deadline for franchises around the NBA to decide about third- and fourth-year team options for their players under rookie-scale contracts, otherwise known as first-round picks. The Bucks haven’t had any such player for a number of years after trading every first-rounder from 2019–2021 in various deals, but their 2022 first-rounder MarJon Beauchamp fits the bill, and today the Bucks officially decided to keep him around another season. Per BH alum Eric Nehm of The Athletic:
The Bucks have picked up the third-year option on MarJon Beauchamp, per a league source.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) October 31, 2023
There was little doubt that Milwaukee would pick up his option. Technically, rookie-scale contracts are only guaranteed for two seasons, with team options in the third and fourth years. It’s rare that a third-year option isn’t picked up, though it’s happened a few times in recent seasons with draftees who have fallen significantly short of their potential or have had some off-the-field issues (or for whatever reason the Suns didn’t up Jalen Smith’s). Fourth-year options sometimes aren’t picked up either for similar reasons, like current Hornet James Bouknight this year.
But for players like Beauchamp or even those who might be complete unknowns after barely playing as rookies, there’s not much risk in picking these up. For one, they’re cheap by NBA standards: even lottery picks’ third-year salaries are between $4m and $8m unless they were drafted in the top five. Beyond the team-friendly salary, players on rookie-scale deals are valuable in trades too because of their youth, and an extra year of team control is appealing to trade partners. Beauchamp also happens to be arguably the Bucks’ best trade asset remaining, though the team currently seems committed to developing him, even if he’d be available in the right deal.
Beauchamp will make just over $2.7m in his third season in the league, a raise from the $2.6m he’ll make this year. Though his stats haven’t been much to look at, he’s flashed scoring potential at times—notably in this year’s preseason (not talking about his 81-point pro-am)—and shown promise as a wing defender, so Bucks fans are pretty optimistic about his future on the team. That may have simply been because he’s been the Bucks’ only young guy/first-round pick in recent years and not his actual skills or on-court results, but he sure seems poised to take a step forward this year, developing into... something? Hopefully a quality role-player at least.
So far, he’s getting a chance to prove his NBA future with 16–17 minutes in each of his appearances this year. The second-year wing missed Monday’s game due to illness, but Eric also tells us that he’s probable for tomorrow’s game in Toronto. He projects to continue seeing minutes on the wing behind Khris Middleton and Malik Beasley, able to play both the 2 and 3, battling for playing time with guards/wings Pat Connaughton, A.J. Green, rookie Andre Jackson Jr., and (to an extent) forward Jae Crowder.
Congrats to The Chosen One (or whatever he’s calling himself on Twitter now)!