How Much do Basketball Players Make a Year?

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If you are looking to make the most money playing a professional sport, the National Basketball Association is the sport for you.  As of 2018/2019, the NBA ranked the highest with an average salary of 6,388,007 million dollars, according to Basketball  Not a bad paycheck for an average player.

The minimum amount of money a player can make ranges from $836,464 to $2,393,887.  The $836,464 is the minimum a rookie can make while a veteran with ten or more years of experience cannot make less than $2,393,887.  In the 2018 NBA draft, the number 1 overall pick was awarded a 6.74 million dollar salary while the last pick in the first round received $1.34 million. 

All rookies drafted in the first round begin their careers with a four-year contract.  Second-round picks do not get a guaranteed contract, but they will be given the opportunity, according to, to receive a larger contract quicker.  Most NBA players’ contracts increase substantially after their rookie deal.

Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors led the way in 2018/2019 with a salary of over 37 million dollars.  His salary will increase too close to 3 million dollars each year until 2021-2022 when he will receive almost 46 million dollars. He is guaranteed $166,476,240.

Eleven players had a 30 million dollar salary or higher in 2018-2019.  All eleven of these players will have significant increases in their salaries over the next few years.  By the time 2021-2022 comes around, seven players will average over 40 million dollars a year.  The NBA is far and away leading the way in player salaries.  Second place belongs to the Indian Premier League with an average salary of 5.06 million dollars with Major League Baseball slightly trailing in third place with 4.51 million dollars.

If you paid attention to what was going on at the trade deadline, you would have heard the term “supermax” being thrown around left and right.  According to, a supermax contract permits a team exclusive rights, dependent on the player meeting certain requirements, to a contract extension up to five years with a starting pay of 35 percent of the total salary cap.  The supermax contract allows players to receive a contract that is more money than they could receive from any other team during free agency.  This gives hometown teams a little leg up on the competition.

This supermax contract came about during the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder and formed a superteam with the Golden State Warriors.  Owners wanted to make sure things like this didn’t happen so that there could be some parity in the league.  The goal of the supermax contract was to give owners the opportunity to offer their superstar a better contract than anyone else to keep the player from jumping ship. 

However, because of the three requirements to reach a supermax contract, very few players qualified for this opportunity.  Many eligible players turned down the offer and join stronger teams.  As far as parity was concerned, it didn’t seem to work.  Players this offseason looked to join up with each other on various teams across the league.  It was because players were teaming up and not the supermax contracts that will create some parity in the league this year.

The only way that lower salary teams will have a chance at competing is if the league institutes a hard cap that enforces a spending limit.  Otherwise, the rich will always have the chance to get richer.  Teams can never compete with the salaries of the Lakers, Celtics, or Warriors.  It made for an exciting free agent day, but teams that can’t compete in salaries were left to just watch and sulk.  They watched as richer teams got better and they didn’t have the resources to even consider competing to bring in top talent.

The salaries offered in the National Basketball Association are great from the player’s perspective.  And, there has never been more excitement and buzz over a free agency day as happened this past July.  Players could get paid and bigger franchises could load up with a couple of superstars to make their push for an NBA title. 

But, fans of teams that don’t have the money to spend had nothing to look forward to on free agency day.  Most fans will have to wait for one of those bigger franchises to travel to their home cities to see them face off against their home team. And, until the NBA finds a way to allow teams to balance out financially, those fans won’t have a lot to cheer for moving forward either.