Using our Real Value metric, which is explained in full detail here, we have determined the most underpaid NBA players for the 2022-23 season.
Although you might be expecting to see a list full of players exceeding the expectations of their minimum or mid-level contracts, it’s actually the big-name stars who dominate this list, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the difference one superstar can make for a team’s fortunes in the Association.
Even if they’re on a max contract, superstar-level players in the NBA are so important that they can still be considered underpaid, as you’re about to find out.
Below, the 20 most underpaid players in the NBA for 2022-23.
Real Value: $70,068,735
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $33,047,803
The second-place finisher in MVP voting this year after winning the award back-to-back campaigns also won Finals MVP for the first time as Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets on a dominant run to the 2023 championship, a stretch in which Denver lost just once and its final 11 postseason outings. Jokic remains the best contract in basketball despite already earning a max salary, as Real Value believes he was underpaid by $37.0 million for his services in 2022-23. It’s not hard to see why, either, as Jokic’s ultra-efficient style of play is always going to be highly thought of by analytics. It has already led Denver to a lot of team success, with more surely on the way in the future.
For more Nikola Jokic salary info, click here.
Real Value: $55,282,823
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $30,351,780
Despite a disappointing ending to the season for Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics, our Real Value metric still believes him to be the second-best value contract for 2022-23, as he was underpaid by nearly $25 million in this campaign. Tatum won All-Star Game MVP this year, was 1st Team All-NBA and led the Celtics to a 57-win season and to within a game of reaching the Finals for a second straight year before falling short to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. With Tatum overperforming his max-level salary, the Celtics will continue to have a chance to build contenders around him for years to come.
For more Jayson Tatum salary info, click here.
Real Value: $57,254,111
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $33,616,770
Joel Embiid led the league in scoring this season at 33.1 points per game, the second year in a row he has accomplished the feat, all while chipping in 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per contes as the Philadelphia 76ers went 54-28 and reached the Eastern Conference semis yet again. What’s left for Embiid is to get the Sixers past that second round of the playoffs mark, something the team hasn’t accomplished since 2000-01.
For more Joel Embiid salary info, click here.
Real Value: $24,440,045
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $4,215,120
The first player in our ranking this season not to be on a max contract, Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton has been putting up huge numbers thus far in the NBA and greatly outperforming his salary, which is how Indiana remained in the play-in race for as long as it did despite many expecting the team to bottom out prior to the campaign. Haliburton was an All-Star for the first time in 2022-23 and wound up averaging 20.7 points, 10.4 assists and 1.6 steals per contest on 40.0 percent shooting from three. The Pacers have a special talent on their hands in Haliburton and should continue to exceed team expectations as long as the former Iowa State Cyclone maintains this level of play. As such, it’s widely expected Haliburton is about to sign a very wealthy extension this offseason, one that can be signed for up to five years.
For more Tyrese Haliburton salary info, click here.
Real Value: $31,565,768
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $12,119,440
Off-court issues aside, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant has been one of the most underpaid players in the league since getting to Memphis, as Morant has already been Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and a 2nd Team All-NBAer in just his first four seasons. Of course, the Grizzlies just enjoyed the last season of Morant’s rookie-scale contract, which paid him $12.1 million in 2022-23 (for an underpay of $19.5 million, per Real Value). Morant’s max extension kicks in starting in 2023-24, and that will have the explosive guard making $33.5 million next campaign.
For more Ja Morant salary info, click here.
Real Value: $20,478,596
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $2,726,880
The second Sixers player on this list already (making Philadelphia’s failure to get past the second round of the playoffs yet again all the more disappointing considering it had two of the six most underpaid players in basketball on the roster, including the league MVP), Tyrese Maxey was a fantastic value contract for 2022-23, earning just $2.7 million while having a Real Value of $20.5 million for a $17.8 million difference. Luckily for the 76ers, Maxey will have another year of being a greatly valuable contract, as the Kentucky Wildcat is set to earn $4.3 million in 2023-24 before hitting restricted free agency next summer. We’ll see if Philadelphia can build an even stronger team with Maxey and Embiid overperforming their contracts to the level in which they have so far. Like Haliburton, Maxey is now eligible for a five-year rookie scale extension, one that might be worth northwards of $200 million.
For more Tyrese Maxey salary info, click here.
Real Value: $19,858,024
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $2,130,240
Another member of the 2020 draft class, Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has been nearly as valuable as Maxey so far in his NBA career thanks to his elite outside shooting and underrated off-the-dribble scoring ability. Part of the reason why Memphis has been so good over the past few seasons, even when Morant has been forced to miss time with injury, has been the highly efficient – and cheap – play of Bane, who, as a late first-round pick, has been a very minor cap hit for the Grizzlies since getting drafted. It’ll be more of the same for Bane and Memphis next year, with the high-scoring guard set to make $3.9 million in 2023-24, giving the Grizzlies another chance to contend in the West behind their elite backcourt.
For more Desmond Bane salary info, click here.
Real Value: $25,029,940
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $8,920,794
Cleveland Cavaliers All-Sar Darius Garland is in a similar boat to Morant in that this was the final season of his rookie-scale contract before his new max salary kicks in next year. Even so, Garland did a great job of outperforming his salary yet again in 2022-23, making $8.9 million but performing at a Real Value of $25.0 million for a $16.1 million positive difference. That’ll change starting next season when Garland is set to earn $33.5 million.
For more Darius Garland salary info, click here.
Anthony Edwards (Minnesota)
Real Value: $26,595,317
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $10,733,400
Former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards has performed at that level and then some so far in his NBA career, already considered by most as a Top 5 shooting guard in basketball at worst. The metrics believe that to be the case, too, with Edwards posting a 2022-23 season that had a Real Value of $26.6 million, a $15.9 million difference from his actual salary of $10.7 million. Edwards has another season of being on a rookie-scale contract, giving the Minnesota Timberwolves one more year to build a contender around a star-level player that has one of the best value contracts in the league. Of course, that becomes more difficult for Minnesota to do when it’s set to pay two centers a combined $77 million-plus in 2023-24 like it’s 1996, but that’s a discussion for another day.
For more Anthony Edwards salary info, click here.
Real Value: $22,620,433
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $8,478,720
Pretty much the entire 2021 draft class had a somewhat disappointing sophomore season, and that includes Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley. In particular, his playoffs showing was rough, as the New York Knicks frontcourt bullied him and Jarrett Allen to a five-game defeat in the first round. Still, he was one of the most underpaid players in the league last year thanks to his rookie-scale contract, as he had a Real Value of $22.6 million while earning just $8.5 million in actual salary for a $14.1 million difference. The concern is: What happens if Mobley doesn’t start to show star-level improvement in his third season? He’ll still likely want a max contract soon thereafter while his potential, age and production will agree he warrants one. But what will Cleveland do then? Turn him from greatly underpaid to slightly overpaid while also paying out max deals for Garland and Donovan Mitchell? The Cavaliers have some interesting decisions to make in the not-too-distant future.
For more Evan Mobley salary info, click here.
Real Value: $34,968,380
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $21,100,000
Sacramento Kings big man Domantas Sabonis enjoyed another All-Star campaign in 2022-23, averaging 19.1 points, a league-leading 12.3 rebounds and an impressive 7.3 assists per game while helping Sacramento break its long playoff drought. Despite what happened in said playoffs, when Sabonis’ impact took a bit of a hit as the Kings were ousted in round one, the former Gonzaga standout still had a hugely successful year, one in which he outperformed his $21.1 million salary by $13.9 million, according to Real Value. With Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento boasts a strong 1-2 punch that should have it in the playoffs for years to come.
For more Domantas Sabonis salary info, click here.
Luka Doncic (Dallas)
Real Value: $49,970,317
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $37,096,500
It’s impressive to see how many superstars outperformed their max salaries in 2022-23, a list that Luka Doncic also belongs to, as the monstrously talented guard earned an enormous salary of $37.1 million and yet was still one of the 12 most underpaid players in the league, according to Real Value. Doncic’s Real Value for the campaign was a whopping $50.0 million, no surprise considering his high levels of scoring, rebounding and playmaking, and high-usage style of play, good for a difference of $12.9 million.
For more Luka Doncic salary info, click here.
Immanuel Quickley (New York)
Real Value: $14,572,090
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $2,316,240
The runner-up in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2022-23, Immanuel Quickley had a very impressive campaign, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists mostly off the bench for New York. Still on his rookie-scale contract, that of a former No. 25 pick, Quickley is greatly outperforming his salary and should continue to do so next season, when he’s set to earn just $4.2 million. Quickley still has more upside thanks to his elite quickness, shiftiness and ability to score off the dribble, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to become a full-time starter in 2023-24, and how that might affect his restricted free agency the following offseason.
For more Immanuel Quickley salary info, click here.
Austin Reaves (LA Lakers)
Real Value: $13,792,921
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $1,563,518
Austin Reaves would rank much higher in this ranking if we only factored in his post-All-Star-Game numbers when the former Sooner really took his game to another level. Still, Reaves was one of the most underpaid players in the league for 2022-23, earning just $1.6 million while having a Real Value of $13.8 million. Now set to be a restricted free agent after a very impressive postseason showing (16.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 44.3 percent shooting from three), Reaves will be financially compensated in a much fairer manner starting next season with the question being: Will it be by the Lakers or another team?
For more Austin Reaves salary info, click here.
Jordan Poole (Golden State)
Real Value: $16,074,947
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $3,901,399
By far the biggest surprise on this list, Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole had a down season after earning a major contract extension the offseason prior, one worth four years and $128.0 million. Regardless, that extension hadn’t kicked in yet in 2022-23, so Poole did largely outperform his actual salary of $3.9 million, posting a Real Value of $16.1 million, according to our metric. What’s more, Poole’s dip in play wasn’t felt as strongly until the playoffs, when his numbers fell off a cliff, from 20.4 points on 43.0 percent shooting in the regular season to 10.3 points on 34.1 percent shooting in the postseason. With a huge tax bill on the way and Draymond Green entering free agency (Klay Thompson is also eligible for an extension, by the way), Golden State has to hope Poole can perform at the level seen in the 2021-22 campaign before it has an albatross of a contract on its hands.
For more Jordan Poole salary info, click here.
Nicolas Claxton (Brooklyn)
Real Value: $20,242,136
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $9,350,000
A springy big man with great finishing and rim protection chops, Brooklyn Nets center Nicolas Claxton was one of the most underpaid players in basketball last season, outperforming his contract by $10.9 million, according to Real Value. Claxton enjoyed a career year in 2022-23, putting up 12.6 points and 9.2 rebounds on an astonishing 70.5 percent shooting mark from the floor, the most accurate clip in the NBA last season. Claxton has one more year left on his current deal which will pay him $9.6 million in 2023-24, a mark the athletic center will surely outperform once again before hitting unrestricted free agency in the 2024 offseason.
For more Nicolas Claxton salary info, click here.
Franz Wagner (Orlando)
Real Value: $15,408,925
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $5,258,280
Orlando Magic fans don’t need to be told this but Franz Wagner has quietly been one of the best players from the 2021 draft class and was probably the only member of that crop who didn’t disappoint in 2022-23. Wagner averaged 18.6 points and 3.5 assists as a sophomore player in the NBA, shooting 48.5 percent from the floor and 36.1 percent from three while outperforming his salary by $10.2 million, per Real Value. Alongside Paolo Banchero, Wagner is a potential franchise cornerstone in Orlando, one who will likely continue to outperform his contract until he finally receives his rookie-scale extension.
For more Franz Wagner salary info, click here.
Tyler Herro (Miami)
Real Value: $15,864,198
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $5,722,116
Heat guard Tyler Herro is in the same boat as Poole where he didn’t have a hugely impressive season in 2022-23 after receiving a large extension the offseason prior (Herro’s was worth four years and $120 million) but that didn’t matter as far as this exercise goes, considering the extension hadn’t kicked in yet last year. That means Herro, in his first season as a full-time starter, was able to outperform the final year of his rookie deal by $10.1 million to make him one of the 20 most underpaid players in 2022-23, according to Real Value. Even so, another injury-marred playoff run, Herro’s name has popped up in trade rumors so far this offseason, though Miami is reportedly trying to keep him as it angles to build a stronger contender around Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
For more Tyler Herro salary info, click here.
Trey Murphy (New Orleans)
Real Value: $13,313,901
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $3,206,520
Things may look a bit bleak around the New Orleans Pelicans at the moment due to the drama surrounding Zion Williamson and the trade scuttle over the franchise as a whole but one recent bright spot has been the play of Trey Murphy III, who had a breakout sophomore season in 2022-23, averaging 14.5 points and 3.6 rebounds on 40.6 percent shooting while earning just $3.2 million. On his rookie-scale contract for another two seasons, if Murphy maintains the trajectory he is currently on, New Orleans could have one of the most valuable deals in the league on its hands in 2023-24.
For more Trey Murphy salary info, click here.
Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City)
Real Value: $16,209,742
Actual Salary for 2022-23: $6,287,400
One of the league’s most entertaining young guards, Oklahoma City floor general Josh Giddey plays with a flash and style unlike that of most others, hitting no-look passes, behind-the-back dribbles and tough shots consistently as the Thunder continue to improve their on-court product, even reaching the play-in tournament last season. Giddey played a huge part in that team success, putting up 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists while outperforming his rookie-scale contract by $9.9 million in 2022-23. As Giddey’s outside jumper continues to improve, the Australian maestro will only get more difficult for opponents to stop and more entertaining for fans to enjoy.
For more Josh Giddey salary info, click here.
Source: Yahoo Sports