It pays to play in the National Basketball Association. In fact, NBA players are on average the highest-paid athletes in the world, according to Statista.com. The average salary in the NBA for the 2021-2022 season is $7.3 million.
The top ten highest salaries in the NBA for the 2021-2022 season are all north of $39 million, including superstars Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors, the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James.
But who brings home the biggest bag, really?
Well, that depends on how you choose to slice it. If we’re talking who is the highest paid by an NBA franchise? Then Curry, who in August signed a guaranteed four-year $215 million extension with the Warriors, leads the pack by most accounts.
If we consider off-the-court deals, James is far and away the top guy, according to Forbes.
Here are Spotrac.com’s 10 highest paid NBA players based on their average annual value, which takes a player’s contract and divides it by the contract’s number of years.
By this calculation, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid trails only Curry on the list. Embiid signed a mega contract worth nearly $196 million over four years with the 76ers in August.
Fifth on the list is reigning NBA champ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek power forward who led the Bucks’ roaring comeback against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals after being down two games to zero in the best-of-seven series. Antetokounmpo signed a five-year, $228 million contract extension in 2020.
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Here are the highest-paid NBA players by AAV (average annual value):
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors; $53.8 million— $215.3 million over four years
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; $48.9 million— $195.9 million over four years
- Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat; $48.7 million— $146.3 million over three years
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets; $48.5 million— $194.2 million over four years
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; $45.6 million— $228.2 million over five years
- Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers; $44 million— $176.2 million over four years
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers; $44 million— $176.2 million over four years
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; $44 million— $176.2 million over four years
- LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers; $42.8 million— $85.6 million over two years
- James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers; $42.7 million— $171.1 million over four years
Here are the 10 highest paid NBA players based on their 2021-2022 season salaries, according to ESPN. This figure accounts for the league’s annual salary cap, which it set at $112.4 million this season.
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors; $45.7 million
- James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers; $44.3 million
- John Wall, Houston Rockets; $44.3 million
- Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers; $44.2 million
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets; $42 million
- Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers; $41.1 million
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; $39.3 million
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; $39.3 million
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers; $39.3 million
- Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers; $39.3 million
Forbes put out its list in October of highest earning NBA Players when including their earnings off the court.
‘King’ James sits at the top. The 37-year-old and four-time NBA champion is set to make $111.2 million this season, with $70 million coming from deals with Nike, Fortnite and Tonal among others.
Curry is high on this list, too. He comes in at number two. Forbes projects the 33-year-old will earn $92.8 million this season with $47 million coming from deals that include Under Armour and FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange company.