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The top NBA draft picks will make millions—and Shaq has some money advice for them

Zion Williamson #1 and the Duke Blue Devils bench
Grant Halverson | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans will have the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, held on Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m. The Memphis Grizzlies have the second pick, and the New York Knicks will draft third.

In total, 60 players will be drafted. The top 30 picks, those selected in the first round, are projected to earn more than $1 million each in their rookie season. The 30 players selected in the second round won't make less than the league minimum salary, which is over $560,000.

The Pelicans are widely expected to select Zion Williamson, the 18-year-old star from Duke University, who became the third freshman ever to win the Naismith Men's Player of the Year award last year.

The first pick comes with the biggest salary. NBA rookies' pay is determined by a salary scale that changes each year based on the percentage by which the league raises teams' salary caps. Last year's No. 1 pick, Deandre Ayton, signed a two-year, $17.7 million contract and earned a base salary of $8.2 million his first year in the NBA.

Shaquille O'Neal's money advice to young people

Basketball hall-of-famer Shaquille O'Neal, a No. 1 draft pick himself, has some advice for these rookies who are suddenly coming into a lot of money. It's the same advice he wishes he could tell his 20-year-old self, who blew through $1 million in an hour, and he sums it up with a simple analogy:

"Alright children," he said while speaking to CNBC's Bob Pisani at BITG's Charity Day in 2018. "This is $100," he continued, motioning to a blank sheet of paper. "What you want to do is, you want to rip the $100 in half."

Take one half, he says, and "save it. Don't ever touch it. Put it away. Don't even look at it. Now you've got $50 left. Now, the smart people ... the billionaires of the world, they'll take half of that $50 and put all that away," he says, while adding another quarter of the piece of paper to the "save pile."

"This right here," he says of the remaining quarter, is your fun money: "You want to buy houses, you want to buy cars, you want to buy planes, you want to travel? This right here is what you have fun with."

In short, O'Neal recommends saving and investing 75% of your earnings for retirement and other long-term goals, and living off the remaining 25%.

"A guy taught me that a long time ago, and it's been working for me," he tells Pisani.

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