Stephen Curry has made all kinds of history during this 2015-16 NBA season. He led the Golden State Warriors to an all-time regular season record of 73-9, which broke the Chicago Bulls' previous mark of 72-10 in 1995-96. He made an unbelievable 402 three-pointers this year, which obliterated the old record of 286, which Curry himself set just a season ago. It's crazy to think that after just seven seasons, he's already cracked the top 20 on the career list. He also became the first man ever to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player (his second straight) award in unanimous fashion.
He led the league in scoring this season with 30.1 points per game and also led the league in steals with 2.14 per contest. Like it or not, Steph Curry has become the face of the NBA and as he prepares for his second straight trip to the NBA Finals, it's become quite clear that he may also be the best bargain in the NBA.
Prior to the 2013-14 season, Curry signed a four-year, $44 million contract, making $11,370,786 in base salary this season. While of course that's a ton of cash, it's nowhere near the top spot in the league, which belonged to Kobe Bryant this year at $25 million. One of Curry's opponents in the NBA Finals, LeBron James, was in the second spot at nearly $23 million. There are a lot of big names that you might expect to be near the top of the list, such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh, but I'm betting you'd be shocked to hear that 60 players in total made more money than Curry did this season and four of those are actually on his own team. Here are the 12 that will shock you.
12 Amir Johnson - $12 million
Prior to this season, Amir Johnson, a 10-year NBA veteran signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Boston Celtics. Playing in 79 games this season (starting 76 of them) for the Celtics, who ended up being the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference, Johnson played decently, but here's what Boston got for their investment. Johnson averaged 22.3 minutes, 7.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists. At least Curry's salary next season will be higher than this one.
11 Nikola Pekovic - $12.1 million
Nikola Pekovic was selected with the first pick in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but didn't make his debut in the U.S. until the 2010-11 season due to his contract commitments in Europe. He averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2012-13 and was rewarded with a five-year, $60 million deal, but has played in only 97 games in the past three seasons. During this 2015-16 season, he played in 12 contests and started only three, averaging 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in just 13 minutes per night.
10 Robin Lopez - $12.65 million
That's right. Carmelo Anthony isn't the only member of the lowly New York Knicks to make more cash than Steph Curry this year. Melo's $22-plus million contract is somewhat understandable given his ability to score and such (still don't think he's a top three player as his salary suggests), but the fact that Robin Lopez, who averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest this season made over a million dollars more than the league MVP did is outrageous. So did his brother, but we'll get to that a little later.
9 Ricky Rubio - $12.7 million
I really didn't want to include this one on the list, as I'm actually a big fan of Ricky Rubio and I think as the Timberwolves continue to improve that he'll only get better, but seeing as how he's a point guard as Curry is, I felt obliged to put him on here, especially given the fact that he averages 20 points less per game than Curry does and his field goal percentage is only .374. Curry's is .504 and just his three-point shooting percentage alone is nearly eight points higher at .454. Rubio, however, did average two more assists per game than Curry did. That must be worth an extra $1.3 million.
8 Nene - $13 million
At one point during his 14-year NBA career, Nene may have been worth this amount of money, but this year was certainly not that point. Nene was still a very solid player when he was moved from the Denver Nuggets to the Washington Wizards four years ago, but his production has declined over the past few years. After averaging more than 14 points just two seasons ago, Nene dipped into single digits for the 2015-16 season, netting just 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 57 games. Only in 11 of those was he in the starting lineup.
7 Al Jefferson - $13.5 million
Al Jefferson didn't have the most spectacular 2015-16 season, despite making over two million dollars more than Steph Curry. While Curry was busy breaking records, Jefferson was busy dealing with suspensions and injuries. Back in December, he was suspended five games for violating the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program and was just two games into his return before he missed six weeks due to a tear in the lateral meniscus of his right knee. In the 47 games he did play (only 18 of them were starts), Jefferson averaged just 12.0 points and 6.4 rebounds.
6 Andrew Bogut - $13.8 million
Andrew Bogut is actually one of four Golden State Warriors that make more than Steph Curry. In his prime with the Milwaukee Bucks, the former number one overall pick may have been worth this kind of coin, but he hasn't averaged double-digit points since the 2011-12 season and has only averaged double-digit rebounds once in that same time frame. This season, Bogut played in 70 games with 66 starts and averaged just 5.4 points and seven rebounds per game. In case you're wondering, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala also all make more than Curry.
5 Chandler Parsons - $15.38 million
Honestly, I really wasn't surprised when the Houston Rockets declined to match the three-year, $46 million offer that Chandler Parsons received from the Dallas Mavericks before the 2014-15 season. I'm thinking that Parsons himself thought it was a good move, as it's hard to get shots with James Harden and Dwight Howard on your team, but I'm wondering if the Mavericks are rethinking their own choice. It's not that Parsons has played poorly, but are Parsons' 13.7 points and 2.8 assists per game really worth more than $15 million?
4 Eric Gordon: $15.51 million
Eric Gordon has become a decent player in the NBA, far better than I actually would have expected, but would you believe me if I told you that he's the 30th-highest-paid player in the league? Because that's exactly what he is. While he averaged more than 15 points this season, he also managed only 2.7 assists and two rebounds per night and a finger injury limited his time to only 45 games this year. The surprises just keep on rolling on this list.
3 Roy Hibbert: 15.59 million
Coming in one spot higher on the salary list at number 29 is Roy Hibbert. Yes, the same Roy Hibbert that averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds on a really bad Los Angeles Lakers team. Granted, Hibbert was only brought in by the Lakers after they couldn't land a bigger free agent last summer and they really took on no risk by taking on the final year of his four-year/$58-plus million deal. In his defense, Hibbert was a two-time All-Star with the Indiana Pacers and that contract may have seemed legitimate at the time, but after his poor production this season, it's crazy to think that his salary was more than four million dollars more than Steph Curry's.
2 Enes Kanter: $16.4 million
If I were giving you a list of members of the Oklahoma City Thunder (you know, the team that Curry and the Warriors just eliminated from the NBA Playoffs) that made more money than the MVP, you'd probably just name off Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, right? Well, you'd be right on those two. Durant made a cool $20.16 million this year and is poised to make even more in free agency, while Westbrook made $16.74 million, more than five million more than Curry. However, there were two others on that team that surpassed him in salary as well. Serge Ibaka made $12.25 million and a man that started only one game this season, Enes Kanter, actually made more than $16 million. Crazy.
1 Brook Lopez: $19.69 million
Even crazier is the number one entry on this list, Brook Lopez. While I certainly don't want to diminish Lopez's productivity this season after he averaged 20.6 points per game, but does anyone see Brook Lopez as a top 10 NBA player? Because that's what his salary would suggest. Yes, Brook Lopez is tied for tenth on the NBA salary list, ahead of guys like Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Paul George, MVP runner-up Kawhi Leonard and of course the MVP himself, Steph Curry.
This list just goes to show you how valuable Curry is. When it's time for Curry's next contract, you'd better believe he's earned the maximum pay raise possible. The Warriors will eventually have to pay up.
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