How Much Do NBA Players Make?

Jimmy Remland
By Jimmy Remland 6 Min Read
6 Min Read

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is home to some of the most talented and celebrated athletes in the world. From jaw-dropping dunks to clutch three-pointers, these players captivate fans globally. But beyond their on-court prowess, there’s another aspect that intrigues fans and aspiring players alike: their salaries.

In this article, we’ll explore the financial landscape of NBA players, shedding light on how much they earn, the factors influencing their paychecks, and the highest-paid superstars in the league. Let’s get started!

1. Average NBA Player Salary

The average NBA player salary is a topic that piques curiosity. As of the 2023-2024 season, the average annual salary for an NBA player stands at an impressive $7,455,058. This figure reflects the collective earnings of all players, from rookies to seasoned veterans. However, it’s essential to recognize that this average can vary significantly based on experience, skill level, and individual contracts.

2. The Highest-Paid NBA Players

Who sits atop the salary throne in the NBA? Let’s take a look at the top earners:

  1. Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors): Curry reigns supreme with a jaw-dropping salary of $51,915,615. His combination of scoring ability, leadership, and global appeal has made him a financial powerhouse.
  2. Kevin Durant (Phoenix Suns): Durant, a former league MVP, commands a hefty paycheck of $47,649,433. His versatility and scoring prowess have elevated him to elite status.
  3. LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers): The King himself, LeBron James, earns $47,607,350. His impact on and off the court continues to shape the league.
  4. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets): The reigning MVP, Jokic, shares the same salary as LeBron at $47,607,350. His unique playmaking abilities as a center have revolutionized the game.
  5. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers): Embiid’s dominant presence in the paint translates to a cool $46,900,000.

These figures highlight the immense financial rewards available to NBA stars. But remember, these salaries don’t just reflect their basketball skills; they also account for endorsements, merchandise sales, and other income streams.

3. The Minimum NBA Salary

While the top earners grab headlines, it’s essential to acknowledge the league’s minimum salary. For the 2023-2024 season, the minimum salary is $925,258. Even though this amount seems modest compared to the superstars’ earnings, it’s still a substantial income for most people.

4. Factors Influencing Salaries

Several factors determine NBA player salaries:

  • Experience: Veteran players with years of service command higher salaries.
  • Performance: Outstanding performance leads to lucrative contracts.
  • Market Value: A player’s popularity, jersey sales, and marketability impact their earning potential.
  • Position: Certain positions (like point guards and centers) tend to earn more due to their impact on the game.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): The CBA between the NBA and the players’ union outlines salary rules and structures.

5. Rookie Contracts and Scale

Rookies, fresh out of college or international leagues, sign their first NBA contracts. These deals are structured based on the draft position. The higher the pick, the more lucrative the contract. For instance:

  • First-Round Picks: These players receive guaranteed contracts with a sliding scale. The earlier the pick, the higher the salary. The first overall pick can expect a multi-million-dollar deal.
  • Second-Round Picks: Their contracts are non-guaranteed, but they still earn a decent living. The minimum salary for second-rounders is around $925,258.

6. Max Contracts and Supermax Deals

Max contracts are reserved for elite players. These deals allow teams to retain their stars by offering the highest possible salary. Here’s how they work:

  • Max Salary: The maximum salary a player can earn based on experience and the salary cap. It’s a percentage of the cap.
  • Supermax: Introduced in 2017, the supermax deal rewards players who meet specific criteria (like MVP awards or All-NBA selections). These contracts can exceed the regular max salary. However, they come with high expectations and pressure to perform.

7. Player Movement and Free Agency

NBA players change teams frequently. Free agency periods allow players to explore new opportunities. Key points:

  • Bird Rights: Teams can exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents using Bird Rights. These rights apply to players who’ve been with a team for three years.
  • Sign-and-Trade Deals: Players can sign with a new team and then be traded. These deals facilitate player movement while maintaining financial viability.
  • Mid-Level Exception: Teams over the cap can use this exception to sign players. It’s a fixed amount, and it varies each season.

8. The Global Impact

NBA players aren’t just athletes; they’re global icons. Their influence extends beyond the court:

  • Endorsements: Players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant earn millions from endorsements. Brands recognize their star power.
  • Jersey Sales: A player’s jersey sales contribute to their income. Curry’s “Splash Brothers” jersey is a fan favorite.
  • International Market: The NBA’s popularity worldwide boosts players’ marketability. China, in particular, has a massive NBA fan base.
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