An NBA salary of $20 million or more is a shining dream. There are 446 players in the NBA. Their typical salary is $2.5 million, with only the top eight players earning more than $20 million. 101 players earn an NBA salary less than $1 million, and 15 earn less than $100,000 a year.
Even more daunting, the odds of getting in the NBA at all are .03%. That’s about the same as getting struck by lightning. Any given student is 400 times more likely to become a doctor or lawyer than to earn an NBA salary. The odds of becoming a firefighter are 1,000 times better. That said, an NBA salary dwarfs those other jobs. An NBA player earns 14 times more than a pediatrician, 44 times more than a typical nurse and 6 times more than the President of the United States. That doesn’t even include endorsement deals.
Typical NBA Salary
The typical NBA salary is $2.5 million per year. That means there are about as many players making more than $2.5 million as making less. As the table below shows, the median NBA salary has grown gradually over the past few years.
The list of players making more than the typical NBA salary includes Kobe Bryant with $25 million, LeBron James with $23 million and Carmelo Anthony with $22.9 million. Some players earning the typical NBA salary are C.J. McCollum, Elfrid Payton and Joel Anthony. Leandro Barbosa and James Johnson also earn the typical NBA salary of $2.5 million.
Some players at the bottom of the NBA salary pile are Jordan McRae, Keith Appling and J.J. O’Brien. Those players make just $30,888 per year each.
Typical NBA Salary by Year
|Typical NBA salary 2011||$2,330,000|
|Typical NBA salary 2012||$2,500,000|
|Typical NBA salary 2013||$2,500,000|
|Typical NBA salary 2014||$2,550,000|
|Typical NBA salary 2015||$2,505,720|
|Typical NBA salary 2016||$2,505,720|
Also see: Highest NBA Salary: Top 20 Players
How Many NBA Players Make Less than $1 Million?
174 players make an NBA salary less than $2 million. 101 earn less than $1 million. There are 36 players in the NBA who earn less than $500,000 per year.
Steve Novak, Forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, earns an NBA salary of $295,327 per year. Novak’s rookie year was 2006. Since then he has played for a number of teams. He played in the Final Four in college. During the 2011-12 season, Novak led the league in 3 pointer percentage.
NBA salary player facts
|Total players earning an NBA salary||446|
|# of players with NBA salary more than $20 million||8|
|# of players with NBA salary more than $10 million||72|
|# of players with NBA salary more than $5 million||146|
|# of players with NBA salary less than $2 million||174|
|# of players with NBA salary more than $1 million||345|
|# of players with NBA salary less than $1 million||101|
|# of players with NBA salary less than $500,000||36|
|# of players with NBA salary less than $100,000||15|
Also see: How Much Money Does an NBA Player Make?
Biggest NBA Salary
Who earns the biggest NBA Salary? The top pay in the NBA goes to Kobe Bryant with $25 million. As high as that is, it’s not Bryant’s highest NBA salary ever. That payout came in the 2013-14 season, when Bryant pulled down a record $30.5 million in contract money alone. That money doesn’t include Bryant’s endorsement deals. Bryant raked in an estimated $27.7 million in 2014-15 product endorsement money. That puts the star’s total earnings for that season at nearly $60 million.
Others in the top ten are Joe Johnson, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. Surprisingly, Dwyane Wade is all the way down at the #10 spot with $20 million. Wade has said he vividly remembers growing up in poverty. When he was six, frequent police raids invaded his home.
NBA Salary 2015-2016: The Top Ten
|NBA Salary Rank||NBA Player||NBA Salary||Facts|
|1||Kobe Bryant||$25,000,000||His top NBA salary was in 2013-14 at $30.5 million.|
|2||Joe Johnson||$24,894,863||This is his top NBA salary to date.|
|3||LeBron James||$22,970,500||His NBA salary plus endorsements gets LeBron James a net worth of $210 million.|
|4||Carmelo Anthony||$22,875,000||Anthony's contract will give him an NBA salary of $28 million in the 2018-19 season.|
|5||Dwight Howard||$22,359,364||Highest NBA salary in Houston Rockets history.|
|6||Chris Bosh||$22,192,730||His NBA salary is 250 times more than his originally chosen career of business manager.|
|7||Chris Paul||$21,468,696||Before he drew an NBA salary, Paul worked at a service station.|
|8||Kevin Durrant||$20,158,622||Durant augments his NBA salary with endorsements and movie appearances.|
|9||Derrick Rose||$20,093,064||Rose is a rags to riches story. He grew up in a dangerous Chicago neighborhood before earning an NBA salary.|
|10||Dwyane Wade||$20,000,000||Wade remembers police raids in his home when he was six.|
For more top NBA salary info, see our article, “Highest NBA Salary: Top 20 Players.”
Total NBA Salary Money
The total NBA salary money each year is about $2.3 billion. That money gets split across all 446 players and 30 teams. The NBA salary money has grown by $450 million since 2011. The NBA sometimes cries poverty during contract negotiations. The average total annual NBA salary money since 2011 is $2.3 billion. Average NBA revenue is $4.4 billion. That means the NBA takes in $2.1 billion per year more than it pays players.
Put another way, players get more than half of all the money in the NBA. The other 47% goes to pay other NBA staff and cover other costs. It also goes to profit. Traditionally, the NBA only pays for about half the cost to build its own arenas. The other 50% comes from public tax dollars.
Total of All NBA Salary Money by Year
|Total NBA salary money 2011||$1,882,517,911|
|Total NBA salary money 2012||$2,003,520,245|
|Total NBA salary money 2013||$2,028,200,655|
|Total NBA salary money 2014||$2,091,944,583|
|Total NBA salary money 2015||$2,335,195,174|
Also see: Stephen Curry Net Worth
NBA Salary VS…
The typical NBA player makes 37 times more money than a nurse at $67,390. The median NBA salary beats the typical retail worker salary of $21,110 by 119 times. NBA players make about 44 times as much as teachers and 14 times more than pediatricians.
NBA players make more money than the President of the United States. Even the middle-of-the-road NBA salary of $2.5 million is six times bigger than the salary of the U.S. President at $400,000.
NBA Salary VS...
|Typical NBA salary||$2,505,720|
|NBA salary vs nurse salary ($67,390)||37 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs retail worker salary ($21,110)||119 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs firefighter salary ($48,270)||52 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs fast food employee ($18,000)||139 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs teacher ($56,320)||44 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs pediatrician ($181,000)||14 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs U.S. President ($400,000)||6 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs restaurant manager ($48,560)||52 times bigger|
|NBA salary vs police officer ($52,361)||48 times bigger|
For more about how NBA salary compares to others, check out our article, “How Much are You Worth Compared to an NBA Player?”
Chances of Earning an NBA Salary
What are the chances of earning an NBA salary? Not good. The chances are just .03%, or one in 3,000. That doesn’t mean one of every 3,000 people is an NBA player. That number is more like one in a million. What it means is that only one in every 3,000 people who really try to be an NBA player will make it.
Compared to other careers, someone who tries to be a doctor or lawyer is 400 times more likely to succeed than someone who goes for an NBA salary. Nurse candidates are 1,100 times more likely to succeed. Teachers are 1,167 times more likely to make it.
The odds of becoming the president of the United States are somewhat slimmer. You are 3,000 times more likely to succeed at getting into the NBA than at becoming the U.S. President.
Your Chances of Earning an NBA Salary
|Odds of earning NBA salary||0.03%|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a doctor||400 times less likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a nurse||1,100 times less likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a teacher||1,167 times less likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a firefighter||1,067 times less likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a police officer||1,066 times less likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company||About the same|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being the U.S. President||3,000 times more likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being a lawyer||400 times less likely|
|Odds of earning NBA salary vs being struck by lightning||About the same|
Also see: LeBron James Net Worth
How to Find the NBA Salary of a Specific Player
Looking for the NBA salary of a specific player? There’s an easy source for that. Spotrac.com lists the salary of every player in the NBA. To use their data, just click the link above and then type a player name into the search box. Spotrac lists NBA salary info for every player in the league.
The site also ranks every player by earnings, from 1 to 466. There’s also detailed historical data showing how much money each player has earned since their career began. Some of the info on the site requires a paid subscription.
NBA Salary Add Ons: Endorsements Deals, Investments
A player almost always earns more than just the base NBA salary listed on their contract. Stephen Curry makes about $11.4 million a year from his salary and another estimated $10 million from endorsement deals. Kobe Bryant makes $25 million a year from his NBA salary and another estimated $27.7 million from product endorsements. LeBron James has made about $150 million in total NBA salary since 2003 and almost twice that from endorsement deals.
Not every NBA player doubles their salary in product endorsement money. Certainly the top 10 to 20 players have a much easier time bringing in the big ad money. However, the typical NBA player does make at least some money in the form of product endorsements.
Also see: Kobe Bryant Net Worth
More NBA Salary Info
In this article, we list the typical NBA salary at about $2.5 million. The average NBA salary is listed elsewhere as $5.2 million. What’s the difference between the median, typical, and average NBA salary?
Median and typical are the same thing. They both mean, what’s the middle-of-the-road NBA salary? In other words, what’s the salary that has just as many players earning more than it as there are players earning less?
$2.5 million is the typical NBA salary. There are 466 players in the league. About half of them earn more than $2.5 million and the other half earn less.
“Average” means, what’s the total salary in the league divided by the number of players. Since there are a few very high earners in the NBA, they pull the average NBA salary higher. Just like including Bill Gates in a pool of ten otherwise typical Americans might give a misleading average net worth number of around $8 billion.
For more NBA salary facts, see our article, “How Much Money Does an NBA Player Make?”