By most accounts, the 2021 NBA Draft had a consensus top-four order: Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs. The first three went as expected. The Detroit Pistons selected Cunningham, the Houston Rockets chose Green, and Mobley went to the Cavaliers with the third pick.
But then the Toronto Raptors were on the clock. And Raptors president Masai Ujiri is never one to shy away from mixing things up. Remember, this is the same guy that traded for Kawhi Leonard on a one-year rental that ultimately led to a championship.
Ujiri and the Raptors decided to go with Scottie Barnes out of Florida State. It may turn out to be a great pick, but it goes against what conventional wisdom seemed to suggest.
Suggs didn't have to wait much longer to hear his name called. The Orlando Magic took him with the fifth overall pick. Despite the small slide, it's going to end up saving Suggs money in the long run — and conversely, costing Barnes more than a million dollars.
Each player that gets drafted will sign on a rookie salary scale, making between 80% and 120% of the total value of each pick. Assuming both players sign for the 120%, Barnes will earn $33,064,628 and Suggs will make $29,956,217 over their first four seasons.
But that won't be what they take home. There's still the matter of taxes.
Barnes will owe $10,839,878 in Canadian federal tax, which has a progressive tax rate up to 33%. He'll also owe an additional $4,376,386 in Ontario taxes, the province that Toronto is in. All told, Barnes will have most of his money taxed at a 46.16% rate for a total of $15,216,264.
Meanwhile, the majority of Suggs' money will be taxed at 37%, the highest U.S. federal tax rate. Suggs will owe $11,048,227 to the U.S. government.
That's all he'll pay in taxes, though. Florida has no state income tax, so Suggs will owe about $4.2 million less in taxes than Barnes will.
As a result, despite having a smaller salary, Suggs will take home $1,059,626 more than Barnes during his rookie contract. If both players end up becoming stars and re-sign with their respective teams, those savings will be even greater.
It's a dream come true to hear your name called on draft night. For Suggs, it was worth the extra wait.