Who are the highest-paid players in the NBA? Steph Curry tops list for sixth year in a row
For the sixth year in a row, the four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry is the highest-paid player in the NBA and of course, his current $48.1 million salary is an all-time record in the sport. Two Lakers stars are close by as Russell Westbrook ($47.1 million) and LeBron James ($44.5 million) trail behind him.
If one thing is for sure, is that NBA salaries have skyrocketed in the last decades. Just as the historic Bulls were ahead of the 1997-98 season and off to win their sixth NBA championship, Michael Jordan signed a $33.1 million contract for a one more year with Chicago, and set a record for the highest single-season salary in NBA history.
Exactly 20 years later, Curry broke his record, and ever since, salaries have gone up the roof! According to Spotrac, 27 players are earning more than Jordan’s historic $33.1 million this 2022/23 season, including a couple of players like CJ McCollum and Tobias Harris, who haven’t even made it to the All-Star team yet.
The following tweet demostrates how much salaries have changed over the years, especially in the past decade:
Courtesy of @FadeawayWorld these are the highest paid players each year since 1984-85 in the NBA.
Of note, these players led the NBA in salary the most years:
— Cyrus Saatsaz (@DogSurfRoadshow) January 22, 2023
The Golden State superstar will reach a new milestone next campaign, as he becomes the first player ever to make over $50 million in a single season. Back to this year, the top five are complete by the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook and LeBron James, as we said before, and are completed by Wizards guard Bradley Beal ($43.3 million) and Nets foward Kevin Durant ($43.0 million).
Here is the rest of the list:
If we have no surprises along the way, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is set to become the highest-earning NBA player with a salary of $63.2 million in 2026-27. Until then, Curry is projected to be on the top prior to his contract expiration at the end of 2025-26 season.
It sounds incredible that the current two-time MVP Nikola Jokic ranks 30th of this list, although he just signed a historic $264 million extension for the next five years.
Why do NBA players earn more than other sports in the United States?
As the average NBA player salary is $9,662,447 for the 2022-23 season, last year quarterbacks (highest-earning players in American Football) are set to make an average of over $7 million. This is pretty remarkable considering the NFL is one of the biggest and most profitable sports leagues in the United States.
Watch ESPN’s report over why athletes in the NBA have the highest average salary per player and earn more money from endorsement deals than NFL and MLB players:
Just last week we published an article on Basketball Insiders about how new data predicted what the NBA could look like in 2030, making a financial projection based on current statistics over who will be the highest-earning teams in the near future. The Golden State Warriors are expected to generate the most revenue among NBA franchises by 2030, with a projected yearly revenue of $628 million – a 143% jump from their current earnings.
Source: Basketball Insider