Former NBA Commissioner David Stern took a sport that was largely American and white, to a sport that became international and diverse. In fact, Stern did such a good job of making basketball without borders, that the NBA has become one of the most diverse and international leagues in the world. There was a time when the majority of players in the NBA were white, but African American players such as Bill Russell played a pivotal role for African American inclusion and equal rights in the NBA, and foreign players such as Yao Ming connected continents such as Asia to America. Just go to any court in the Philippines today and it’ll be more packed than any court in New York City. Go to any city in China and you will see Kobe and LeBron jerseys everywhere. The world loves the NBA.
Clearly, basketball has become a global, diverse, and paradigm shifting sport. It is no coincidence that the Sacramento Kings have recently invited Sim Bhullar – a 7’5” Indian American – to their camp. It just happens to be that Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is also Indian American. Ranadive sees Sim as a path to the second largest populated country in the world – India.
It almost appears that the majority group that once dominated the NBA has now become a bit of a minority group. Having said that, there has been a resurgence of white players in the NBA that are very different from Bob Cousy and Larry Bird’s generation. Gone are the stereotypes from the 1990’s that “White Men Can’t Jump” or that white people can’t do anything but shoot from the outside. Chandler Parsons, Manu Ginobili, and Ricky Rubio are some of the most unconventional white players that you will ever see. They are stereotype-busting players that can jump, penetrate, and handle the ball with the best of them.
So, it is interesting to note who some of the best and highest paid white players in the league are today. Below is a top 10 list of the highest paid white players for this upcoming season, with the biggest surprise being the omission of a German superstar who is way too kind to his team.
10 Danilo Gallinari - $10,854,850
Gallo is only 26-years-old, but his body is already breaking down. Gallo hurt his ACL last year and didn’t play a game. However, when healthy, the 6’10” small forward is one of the deadliest players in the league. Gallo can shoot the 3-point ball with consistency, but he also has the ability to attack the basket. At 6’10”, Gallo has the talent to be a stretch four without giving up too much in the rebounding category. At ten million, Gallo is priced just right, but if he keeps getting hurt the way that he has been, it is a big loss for the Nuggets. Luckily for Gallo, there are guaranteed contracts in the NBA unlike the NFL.
9 Andrea Bargnani - $11,500,000
The number one pick in the draft had a lot of expectations on his shoulders, and rightly so, since he was selected with the number one pick. However, the Dirk clone, never really became a Dirk clone. Yes, Bargnani can hit the occasional three-pointer, but he is far too inconsistent from the outside for defenders to take his long ball seriously. Furthermore, his foot speed is too slow for him to blow by defenders when he attacks the basket. What makes all this even worse is that he is a terrible defender and rebounder, yet he somehow continues to get over paid year-by-year.
8 Nikola Pekovic - $12,100,000
Pek has proven to be a legitimate NBA starter in the NBA. Since Pekovic was originally overseas prior to being selected in the 2008 draft, he was largely unknown to most NBA fans. However, Pek was successful overseas, so it is no surprise that the tough Montenegrin has been able to translate his bruising type of basketball to the NBA. Pek is not a great shot blocker, but he loves contact and physicality. He is easily one of the strongest NBA players in the league, which gives the Timberwolves the toughness that they sorely need.
7 Andrew Bogut - $12,972,973
The former number one pick in the draft has never lived up to the hype of being the number one pick, but he has been able to overcome a slew of unfortunate injuries that were some of the worst that the NBA has ever seen. Like most Aussies, Bogut is as tough as nails. Although his offense is still suspect, Bogut is one of the best anchors on defense in the league. The Warriors have always been known to be an offensive minded team, but when Bogut is healthy, he gives the Warriors an edge on defense with his shot blocking ability and size. And with the plethora of offensive weapons that the Warriors have, Bogut only has to focus on defense at this point in his career.
6 Chandler Parsons – $14,700,000
Chandler Parsons had a bit of a falling out with the Houston Rockets, so he is more than happy to play for the rival Dallas Mavericks. Parsons was hoping the Rockets would match the offer that Mark Cuban threw his way, but they elected to sign Trevor Ariza at a much cheaper deal instead. Parsons, however, is one of the young and upcoming players in the NBA. He possesses the rare ability to hit the three-point shot and penetrate into the paint. He is also one of the most athletic players in the league and at 6’9” he possess great size at the small forward position.
5 Gordon Hayward - $14,746,000
Gordon Hayward had a bit of a tough time when he was a rookie in the league with a prima donna player like Deron Williams. However, with Deron’s departure and a new head coach, Hayward was able to hit the refresh button and become the face of the Jazz’s franchise. Hayward was an absolute stud in college and led Butler to the NCAA Championship game before falling just short. He possesses great size at 6’8” and can do a bit of everything. He is not a number one option at this point in his career, but he has definitely become a legitimate number two option.
4 David Lee - $15,012,000
Who knew that a kid that nobody heard of from the University of Florida could be this good? David Lee is basically Kevin Love without the three pointers. Like Love, Lee is a walking double-double. The 6’9” left-hander doesn't mind banging in the paint and getting garbage points all around the rim. Lee also has a very good fifteen footer that he uses when he plays high-low with Bogut. Lee has never been a great shot blocker, but he is the perfect piece to have around three point bombers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
3 Brook Lopez - $15,719,062
When healthy, Brook Lopez has been referred to as the best center in the NBA. Lopez possess great size, footwork, and a very underrated 15-footer. Lopez is one of the few centers in the league that you can throw the ball to in the post and let him go to work. Because he is so good on offense, he has the ability to draw double teams and kick it out to open three-point shooters. However, for all of Lopez’s talent, he continues to be a very poor rebounder. Lopez has never averaged even 10 rebounds per game. Additionally, his right foot problems have made him a very injury prone player who very rarely plays a complete season.
2 Kevin Love - $15,719,063
The walking double-double, and soon-to-be Cavalier, is one year away from receiving a max contract. K-Love’s skillset is one of the rarest in NBA history. Very rarely can someone attempt as many three-pointers as Love does and rebound at the clip that he does. When you are shooting 3-pointers, you are in the furthest positioning for an offensive rebound, yet last year, K-Love was the third best rebounder in the league. The main reason for that is because Love is such a good defensive rebounder. This is the reason why K-Love racks double-doubles with such ease. The scary thing for the rest of the NBA is that K-Love is now going to be grabbing those same defensive rebounds in Cleveland and throwing full-court outlet passes to a sprinting LeBron James.
1 Marc Gasol - $15,829,688
Selected with the 48th pick in the draft, the overweight younger brother of Pau Gasol, was supposed to be nothing other than a big man that was only good for his six fouls. Today, he and Zach Randolph form one of the most formidable frontcourts in the NBA. DeMarcus Cousins once said that the only time he ever feels sore after a game is when he plays against Memphis. But Gasol is not only a bruiser and great defender, but he is also an above average shooter and passer. He continues to hit over 50% of his field goals and has become one of the most underrated shot blockers in the league. This makes Gasol not only the highest paid white player in the league, but a player with one of the best contracts in the league.