This season a lot has been made about how much NBA players are earning, and for good reason. Some of these guys are making ridiculous salaries just for this season alone and the way things are going those numbers are just going to keep going up. The top earner in the NBA this season is making almost $31 million, while those who come in 15th to 20th are still making $22+ million.
What is perhaps even more surprising is that many of the guys in this list are solid players, but not superstars. Nowhere in this Top 20 list will you find a guy like back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry. You certainly wouldn’t expect the Memphis Grizzlies to be the team with the most entries into the Top 20 highest salaries this season either but that is the case. Keep reading to find out what other salaries might surprise you.
20 Hassan Whiteside - $22,116,750 (tie)
Hassan Whiteside has a lot to live up to as the new big man in Miami after Chris Bosh and Shaq have filled that role. In the summer of 2016 he re-signed with the Heat for $98 million over four years. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2010 and signed a $3.8 million deal over four years with the first two years guaranteed at $1.76 million. His career started to take off in 2015-16 when Whiteside was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team and was the league’s blocks leader. He will continue to get paid earning $23.8 million, $25.4 million, and $27.1 million the next three seasons. His newest contract comes with $71.3 million guaranteed. Whiteside and Goran Dragic look to lead this young Heat team into the playoff picture after losing Wade and Bosh.
19 Andre Drummond - $22,116,750 (tie)
Andre Drummond seems to be getting better every year as the leader of the Detroit Pistons. He was drafted in 2012 and in the 2015-16 season he was the NBA rebounding leader as well as an All-Star and an All-NBA Third Team selection. He re-signed with the Pistons in July 2016 with a five year deal worth a total of $130 million. Drummond will make $23.8 million, $25.4 million, $27.1 million, and $28.8 million respectively through 2021. In his first season Drummond was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and was named the Rising Stars Challenge MVP. He has averaged better than 13 points per game and 12 rebounds per game over his career. He should be able to earn his money and hopefully will get some better pieces around him to make Detroit relevant again.
18 Harrison Barnes - $22,116,750 (tie)
Harrison Barnes was able to cash in on his role as a contributing bench player for the Golden State Warriors when he joined the Dallas Mavericks, opting to sign a four year deal worth $94 million in the offseason of 2016. Barnes was selected to the All-Rookie First Team in 2013 and won the NBA Championship in 2015 in Golden State. He will make $23.1 million in 2017-18, $24.1 million in 2018-19, and $25.1 million in 2019-20. Barnes also won a gold medal as part of Team USA at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. He averaged a career high 11.7 points per game in his last season with Golden State and averages just over 10 PPG over his career which will only go up in Dallas.
17 Chandler Parsons - $22,116,750 (tie)
Chandler Parsons is one of three Memphis Grizzlies on this list of the 20 highest salaries for the 2016-17 NBA season. Parsons was drafted in 2011 and played in Houston where he was an NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection. He has recently played in Dallas before joining the Grizz in 2016. He is probably one of the least deserving guys on this list and hasn’t accomplished much during his career but has averaged 14.3 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. Parsons signed a three year deal worth $46 million with the Mavericks in 2014 after the Rockets declined to match that offer. In 2016 he agreed to a four year max contract with Memphis worth $94.8 million total. We will see if he deserves all that money.
16 Bradley Beal - $22,116,750 (tie)
Even though he is the second best player on his team, Bradley Beal is the highest paid Wizard this year at just over $22 million. Beal signed a max deal before the 2016-17 season started worth almost $130 million over five years. He was the #3 overall pick by the Washington Wizards in 2012 and has spent his entire career with the Wiz. So far his only NBA accomplishment is being named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Beal has two gold medals representing the United States at the junior level. During his four year career he has averaged 16 points a game along with 3.7 rebounds and 3 assists a game. There has been some talk about him not getting along with fellow Wizards guard John Wall, but Beal signed a five year deal so hopefully they can get along.
15 Anthony Davis $22,116,750 (tie)
Anthony Davis is the most deserving of his $22 million salary than the other guys he is tied with. The big man was the #1 overall pick by New Orleans in 2012. That year he signed a three year deal worth $16 million guaranteed with the then Hornets. In 2015 Davis signed a five year extension worth $145 million with the Pelicans. He has earned his money as a three time All-Star and a member of the All-NBA First Team in 2015. The “Unibrow” is a two time NBA blocks leader and was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2015. During his one season at Kentucky he won an NCAA Championship and was named NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
14 Chris Paul - $22,868,827
Veteran point guard Chris Paul is one of the highest paid athletes in the U.S. in addition to his popular commercials with State Farm as Cliff Paul and his endorsement with Nike and other companies. His salary for 2016-17 put his 10th on the list at nearly $23 million. His current deal started with the 2013-14 season as part of a five year deal worth $107 million total. CP3 spent $8.5 million on a mansion in Bel Air in 2012 when he bought it from singer Avril Lavigne. Paul is a nine time All-Star and a six time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection. He was also the All-Star Game MVP in 2013 and has been the president of the NBA Players Association since that time.
13 Dwight Howard - $23,180,275
Center Dwight Howard has been one of the best big men in the NBA since Shaq retired. He was the #1 overall pick for the Orlando Magic in 2004. Howard played for one season with the Lakers and has spent the last few years in Houston. As an unrestricted free agent he opted to sign a three year deal worth $70 million with the Atlanta Hawks in July 2016. In 2013 Howard was a highly sought after free agent, but by 2016 it didn’t seem like that many teams wanted to pay him so he was lucky to find one who did. A month before signing his new contract he declined a one year option worth $23 million from Houston only to basically make the same amount in his hometown of Atlanta.
12 Dwyane Wade - $23,200,000
One of the main reasons Wade reportedly left the Miami Heat after 13 seasons is because he felt like accomplished everything he could there. After LeBron James left, the team started to rebuild and now that Chris Bosh has been unable to play due to health issues, the team has landed in the hands of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. In July 2016 Wade signed a two year deal with Chicago for $47.5 million with $23.2 million coming in his first season with his new ball club. The year before that, Wade signed a one year deal for $20 million with Miami. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer with three NBA Championships, an NBA Finals and NBA All-Star Game MVP, and 12 All-Star selections.
11 Chris Bosh - $23,741,060
Even though he might not play at all this year, or ever again, Chris Bosh is officially the 11th highest paid player in the NBA in terms of salary for the 2016-17 season. Bosh joined the league in 2003 and played for the Toronto Raptors before joining the Miami Heat in 2010. He has won two NBA Championships and is an 11 time All-Star. Bosh signed a $65 million deal with Toronto in 2006. His current contract was signed in 2014 for five years, worth a total of $118.7 million. He is scheduled to be paid $25.3 million for 2017-18 and $26.8 million for 2018-19. Bosh failed his physical due to an ongoing issue with blood clots and Miami Heat president Pat Riley proclaimed that his career with his team was over.
10 Damian Lillard - $24,328,425
Many people though the Portland Trail Blazers were in a lot of trouble when LaMarcus Aldridge joined the San Antonio Spurs leaving Damian Lillard and a group of teammates. The team has been a surprise and has played well, and Lillard has benefitted from more money once the move of L.A. freed up some money for him. Lillard signed a five year deal worth $120 million in the summer of 2015 with more than $24 million in salary for the 2016-17 season. He received a max deal which can vary based on how much money a team has to work with and how many years a player has been in the league. Lillard was named Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was an All-Star in 2014 and 2015.
9 Carmelo Anthony - $24,559,380
Carmelo is another veteran who has earned his paycheck with the New York Knicks. The 14th year man spent a good number of years putting in his time with Denver before going to New York in 2011. He is a nine time NBA All-Star and has won an NCAA Championship and three gold medals at the Olympic Games but never an NBA Championship. We will see if the addition of Derrick Rose helps Anthony get any closer to that goal and earn his money. He had previously signed a five year deal with Denver worth $80 million in 2006. Carmelo gives a lot of his money to charity including $3 million to a new basketball practice facility at his alma mater Syracuse University and $1.5 million to the Living Classrooms Foundation.
8 Dirk Nowitzki - $25,000,000
It may be hard to believe that in his 19th season in the NBA, Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki has one of the highest salaries in the NBA for the 2016-17 at exactly $25 million. At the age of 38, there is always some talk about him retiring during the offseason, but why should he when he can earn that much money to play the game he loves? Dirk has been an All-Star in 13 of his 18 seasons and won an NBA Championship in 2011 when he was named NBA Finals MVP after being named the NBA’s MVP four years earlier. Dirk signed a two year deal with Dallas in July 2016 for an even $50 million which would have him playing all 20 seasons in Dallas.
7 DeMar DeRozan - $26,540,100 (tie)
Last season DeMar DeRozan helped lead the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals and now he is cashing in with a contract worth $26.5 million for the 2016-17 season. DeRozan signed a five year deal with the Raptors worth $139 million in July 2016. Shortly after that he won a gold medal competing for the United States at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, even though he plays professionally in Canada. DeMar is a two time NBA All-Star and is paired up with All-Star guard Kyle Lowry in Toronto. After this season his salary will go up to $27.7 million for the next four seasons each. It will be tough for DeRozan and the Raptors to get by LeBron James and the Cavs but they should be a good team for a while now.
6 Russell Westbrook - $26,540,100 (tie)
Once Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook became the man and he also got paid. He signed a three year deal for a total of $85.7 million in the summer of 2016 to stay with a young Thunder team where he has the capability to average a triple double. Westbrook will get paid $28.5 million for the 2017-18 season and $30.7 million for the 2018-19 season. He is a five time NBA All-Star and two time All-Star Game MVP. Westbrook was the NBA scoring champion in 2015 and could easily score more points than that in the 2016-17 season. He won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games but did not compete in 2016. Westbrook will be able to earn his money as the only really good player on his team.
5 James Harden - $26,540,100 (tie)
James Harden is in a similar situation to Russell Westbrook, losing an All-Star caliber player in Dwight Howard who went to the Atlanta Hawks. Harden even changed positions to point guard under Mike D’Antoni’s system and is another guy who could possible average a triple double. Harden signed a four year deal worth $118.1 million in July 2016. He will make $28.3 million in 2017-18, $30.4 million in 2018-19, and $30.1 million in 2019-2020. His last contract was for five years, worth $80 million with the Rockets. Harden is a four time All-Star and two time All-NBA First Team selection. He was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012 playing for Oklahoma City and also won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games for the United States.
4 Kevin Durant - $26,540,100 (tie)
Kevin Durant made headlines as well as enemies when he went from the Thunder to the Warriors for the 2016-17 season. He signed a two year deal with Golden State for $54.3 million including a player option after the first year if things don’t go as planned. Next season he will make $27.7 million which is a lot more than he made when he signed a five year deal with the Thunder for $86 million in 2010. In 2013 Durant donated $1 million to the American Red Cross to help victims of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. He won the NBA MVP in 2014 and was the All-Star Game MVP in 2012. Durant is also a four time NBA scoring champion and has won two Olympic gold medals.
3 Mike Conley Jr. - $26,540,100 (tie)
NBA fans have likely heard of Mike Conley, but he is certainly not considered to be a superstar in the league and many casual fans might not even know who he is or that he plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. All of makes it quite a surprise that Conley is tied for the second highest salary in the NBA for the 2016-17 season. The Memphis point guard signed a five year deal with Memphis worth $153 million in July 2016, giving him the richest contract by total value in the history of the league and the first deal to be worth at least $100 million with an average value of more than $30 million per season. Some will say that he doesn’t deserve that kind of money to be a good sport; Conley has won the NBA Sportsmanship Award twice and hasn’t done a whole lot else.
2 Al Horford - $26,540,100 (tie)
Al Horford is a great player and is a four time NBA All-Star, but he also isn’t considered to be an elite superstar. He was drafted #3 overall in 2007 and played with the Atlanta Hawks through the 2015-16 season. Horford became a free agent and signed a four year deal with the Boston Celtics worth $113 million total, making more than $26.5 million for the 2016-17 season. This was a step up from his last contract which was a five year deal worth $60 million with Atlanta in 2010. Horford won two NCAA Championships at Florida. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2008 and the All-NBA Third Team in 2011. It remains to be seen if Horford will be worth this huge deal for Boston.
1 LeBron James - $30,963,450
At nearly $31 million, LeBron James is making a ridiculous amount of money this season. If you break it down he is making more than $377,000 every game and almost $9,000 per minute (if he played all 48 minutes). Even though the amount is crazy, LeBron probably does deserve to be the highest paid player in the NBA with his list of accomplishments including three NBA Championships, four NBA MVPs, 12 All-Star Games, three NBA Finals MVPs, and 10 All-NBA First Team selections among many others. James has become known for signing shorter contracts to give him more flexibility and earnings potential. He also makes millions from endorsement deals including $90 million from Nike. In 2015 he purchased a $21 million mansion in Los Angeles leading some to believe he would join the Lakers or Clippers.