Since the 2017-18 season, the NBA has had two-way contracts as a new means to give teams more opportunities to find diamond-in-the-rough types of players, and to give those players homes as they try to make their way through the early stages of their professional basketball careers.
Two-way contracts allow teams to sign young, usually undrafted (though sometimes even second-round-pick) players to a deal that lets them split those guys’ time between the NBA and the G League. That gives those players the chance to spend time in the NBA and practice against the best of the best while also giving them the opportunity to get more playing time in the G League, where they can really hone their skills through in-game action.
Thus far, there’s no question the two-way program has been a success for both teams and players, and multiple very promising careers have already sprung up through two-way contracts.
Below, check out our ranking of the 10 most successful players who started their NBA careers on two-way deals.
Duncan Robinson (Miami)
The player who averages the most nightly three-pointers for their careers is, unsurprisingly, Stephen Curry at 3.7.
However, not many know that the second-place player on that list is currently Duncan Robinson, who is knocking down a ridiculous 3.3 three-pointers per game over the first three seasons of his career as a member of the Miami Heat.
Robinson was a key piece on the Miami team that reached the 2020 Finals, as he shot 39.7 percent from deep on over seven attempts per contest over the course of that playoff run. Meanwhile, this season, his shooting numbers are actually a bit down… and yet he’s still hitting 40.5 percent of his 8.6 nightly triples.
Robinson has quickly become one of the top shooters in the world, as head coach Erik Spoelstra likes to say, and he’s in line to get paid this offseason when he finally hits restricted free agency, with many reportedly expecting the sharpshooter to nab a deal in the $15-20 million range annually.
Not bad for a player that started out on a two-way contract making $275,000 and who averaged just 3.3 points in his first NBA season with the Heat. Interestingly enough, Robinson hit just 28.6 percent of his threes in his rookie year.
For the latest Duncan Robinson rumors, click here.
Lu Dort (Oklahoma City)
Already widely considered one of the best defensive guards in the league, but one who is developing offensively at a very impressive rate, too, Lu Dort spent one year on a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder before signing a standard deal with the team last season.
That standard deal, however, is for four years and will pay Dort merely $5.4 million over its course, which now looks like an absolute one-sided steal of a contract for the Thunder.
In 2020-21, Dort is averaging 14.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals and shooting a respectable 34.6 percent from three. Dort only just turned 22, too, indicating that there’s still untapped upside on the offensive end for him to reach to go along with his already elite perimeter defensive abilities.
A scary proposition for opponents, but an unfortunate one for Dort, as his contract will not remotely match his production anytime soon.
For the latest Lu Dort rumors, click here.
Chris Boucher (Toronto)
Toronto Raptors big man Chris Boucher actually signed two-way contracts with two separate teams, the Golden State Warriors and Toronto, before establishing himself as a full-time NBA player.
The Warriors at the time believed they needed someone readier to step in and contribute if required, which is perfectly reasonable considering they were still a team with championship-or-bust aspirations back then. In hindsight, however, they probably wish they had stuck it out with Boucher, who is now one of the top floor-spacing, rim-protecting big men in basketball.
This season, Boucher is averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for the Raptors, and shooting nearly 39 percent on 3.8 nightly three-point attempts. And he’s doing it on a two-year, $13.5 million contract that he signed last November, which is non-guaranteed in 2021-22.
That’s a great value contract for Toronto, though rest assured: If the Raptors want to keep Boucher around in 2022 when he hits unrestricted free agency, his next deal will have to be more valuable than that – far more valuable.
For the latest Chris Boucher rumors, click here.
Monte Morris (Denver)
If any team knows what they’re doing with two-way contract players, it’s the Nuggets, who come up three times in these rankings with Monte Morris coming in at No. 4.
Finding his footing in the NBA didn’t take long for Morris, who, after a single season on a two-way contract after being drafted 51st overall in 2017, was signed to a three-year, $4.7 million contract the following offseason.
Morris responded by averaging 10.4 points, 3.6 assists and 0.6 turnovers over 82 games in his first year on a standard contract in 2018-19, and ever since then, the Iowa State product has been one of the league’s top backup point guards, with a rare ability to create for others while taking care of the basketball.
The Nuggets value their backup point guard so much that they signed him to a three-year, $27.8 million extension early in December of 2020, a deal that Morris has more than lived up to to this point.
For the latest Monte Morris rumors, click here.
Alex Caruso (LA Lakers)
After an extremely impressive Summer League showing prior to his rookie year, Alex Caruso would sign a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, which he’d perform under for two years before signing with the Lakers on the first standard deal of his career ahead of 2019-20.
Caruso was particularly productive for a two-way player in his second campaign with Los Angeles, when the Texas A&M product averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 assists over 25 games.
The Bald Mamba would go on to be a key piece for the 2019-20 championship-winning Lakers squad, and now, still a very solid two-way role player for L.A. who’s set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, some reportedly expect him to get offers worth nearly $10 million annually.
That’s quite the jump from two-way contract salaries.
For the latest Alex Caruso rumors, click here.
Torrey Craig (Phoenix)
After a solid college career at the University of South Carolina Upstate, Torrey Craig spent three seasons playing overseas in New Zealand and Australia, the latter location in which he’d win a league MVP award as well as a championship.
Craig wouldn’t even reach the NBA until his age-27 season when the Nuggets brought him over on a two-way contract. After a single campaign on that two-way deal, Craig would get re-signed by Denver on a standard contract, one worth two years and $4.0 million.
After two solid seasons with the Nuggets, where Craig became a trusted two-way forward with some spot-up shooting ability, Denver would rescind his qualifying offer in order to find a backup big man to replace the departed Mason Plumlee, which led to Craig joining the Milwaukee Bucks prior to this season.
And though things didn’t work out between Craig and Milwaukee, the now-30-year-old has bounced back as a member of the Phoenix Suns, where he’s currently playing some of the best basketball of his career.
Quite the career journey thus far for Craig.
For the latest Torrey Craig rumors, click here.
Shake Milton (Philadelphia)
The No. 54 pick of the 2018 draft, Shake Milton’s first contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team who traded for his rights that night, was actually a two-way deal.
Milton’s first season, where he split time between being with Philadelphia and their G League affiliate (where he’d average nearly 25 points nightly over 27 games), was impressive enough for the Sixers to sign him to a four-year deal worth $5.0 million prior to the 2018-19 campaign.
Since then, Milton has become a valued bench scorer for Philadelphia, one who’s averaging 13.4 points and 3.0 assists this season for a Sixers team that sits second in the East to this point.
For the latest Shake Milton rumors, click here.
Naz Reid (Minnesota)
After a blue-chip high school career, Naz Reid actually went undrafted after spending a single solid-though-unimpressive season at LSU.
Since then, however, Reid’s career has been on nothing lower than an upward trajectory, as the New Jersey native was originally signed to a two-way contract by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the summer of 2019, but didn’t even last 16 days on the deal before the team realized they needed to switch him a standard contract because of his upside following a strong Summer League showing from the big man.
Reid and the Wolves would agree to a four-year, $6.1 million deal, the maximum allowed for undrafted players, on July 17, 2019, and the 21-year-old has not disappointed since signing the deal.
In this, just his second NBA season, Reid is already averaging 11.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in fewer than 20 minutes of nightly action, and shooting 51.7 percent from the floor.
Not bad for being a two-week two-way contract player when he started out.
For the latest Naz Reid rumors, click here.
Ryan Arcidiacono (Chicago)
Ryan Arcidiacono’s NBA career began with the San Antonio Spurs, who signed him to a two-way contract after the point guard’s illustrious Villanova career before waiving him and re-signing him solely to their G League team.
After a season there, Arcidiacono would sign a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls, where he’d end up carving out a role thanks to his solid playmaking, shooting, and extremely scrappy, high-energy level of play.
In just his second NBA season, in 2018-19, Arcidiacono wound up starting 32 games for Chicago, averaging a career-high 6.7 points and 3.3 assists and shooting 37.3 percent from three.
Chicago liked Arcidiacono’s contributions so much that year that the following offseason, they signed the 6-foot-3 guard to a three-year deal worth $9 million, one that could expire this offseason if the Bulls choose not to exercise his team option.
It remains to be seen where Arcidiacono’s career goes from here, but he’s a decent defender and plays with loads of energy, so there’s a chance another NBA team picks him up if the Bulls decide to let him walk this offseason.
Either way, considering he started out on a two-way contract, his NBA career has been a solid one to this point.
For the latest Ryan Arcidiacono rumors, click here.
PJ Dozier (Denver)
Already on his third team in four seasons, PJ Dozier actually originally signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks after going undrafted out of South Carolina before latching on with the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to 2017-18, who used their final two-way contract spot to sign him.
After a season with Oklahoma City, Dozier got signed to a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics for the 2018-19 season, though Boston declined to extend him a qualifying offer after his lone campaign with the club.
To that point, Dozier had seen action in just eight NBA games, though he had already been named a G League All-Star by then, so he was coming along slowly but surely.
After his time with Boston, Dozier would get signed to a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets, and although his first season with the team was a quiet one, this year, he’s blossomed into a solid rotational piece for one of this season’s better Western Conference teams.
Dozier is averaging 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals this year over 45 games, becoming a trusted backup guard for Michael Malone’s group.
Dozier’s story is a great example of why the two-way contract is so effective; he clearly wasn’t ready for an NBA role over his first two years out of college, but by allowing him to split time in the G League and the NBA, Oklahoma City and Boston helped develop him into the rotation-level guard he is today.
That would have been harder to do prior to the inception of the two-way contract, as Dozier likely would have headed straight overseas after college had his career began a decade ago, and who knows if he ever would have found his way back to the NBA.
For the latest PJ Dozier rumors, click here.