The top 10 highest-paid players in the league pocketed a combined sum of almost half a billion dollars, and as the league continues to evolve, this is only expected to accelerate. As it stands, here are the top 10 highest-paid NBA players per minute last season (via Sportingpedia).
10. Russell Westbrook ($16,509 per minute in 2678 minutes)
There's been so much thrown around Russell Westbrook's name since he joined the Lakers, but one thing's for sure, he showed up for 78 games this season. It's fair to criticize his style of play and debate whether or not he deserves to earn $16,509 per minute in the 2678 minutes he played, but this was the contract extension offered to him by the Oklahoma City Thunder when he put them on the map. Next season will be Westbrook's final year of his current contract, and all signs indicate this will be his last large paycheck.
9. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($17,852 per minute in 2204 minutes)
If there's a player that will always make his team's expenses worthwhile, it's Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis earned $17,852 per minute in 2204 minutes in the 67 games he played last season. The MCL injury to his teammate Khris Middleton ruined their chances in the Playoffs, but the two-time MVP was as reliable as always for his team.
8. James Harden ($18,310 per minute in 2420 minutes)
The Beard had an underwhelming season compared to his usual standards. He had to move on from the chaotic Nets organization to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he is now set up to compete with teammate Joel Embiid. Harden earned $18,310 per minute in 2420 minutes last season but unfortunately didn't get to help the Sixers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Harden then decided to take on less money this offseason to help his team improve, so we'll see if that sacrifice is eventually worth it.
7. LeBron James ($19,760 per minute in 2084 minutes)
Despite another injury-riddled year and a brutal season by the Lakers, James made $19,760 per minute in 2084 minutes last season. The Lakers devastatingly didn't make it to the play-in tournament, but James' performance this season was the only few things Lakers fans smiled about. Next season will be more interesting for the 4-time champion, who is expected to pass Kareem Abdul Jabbar on the All-time scoring list.
6. Kevin Durant ($20,527 per minute in 2047 minutes)
He may be unhappy with the Brooklyn Nets as of writing, but at least Durant went home with a hefty paycheck. KD was in the MVP talks early in the season, but unfortunate injuries got in his way, and it didn't help that the Nets' locker room was as dramatic as a soap opera. Despite wanting out, KD still bagged $20,527 per minute in the 2047 minutes he played last season.
5. Stephen Curry ($20,706 per minute in 2211 minutes)
Arguably the most accomplished player last season, Steph Curry's hard work paid off as he nabbed a title and $20,706 per minute in 2211 minutes he was on the court. Curry not only led the Warriors to a championship but also won the All-Star MVP, Finals MVP and broke the NBA's All-time 3-point record.
4. Paul George ($36,532 per minute in 1077 minutes)
Another Clipper that cracks the list is George, who made $36 million in 1077 minutes last season. George started the previous season hot, averaging 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.7 assists, but unfortunately, his body could only hold up for 31 games. He spent 1077 minutes in those 31 games, which means he pocketed $36,532 per minute. It's not ideal for a contender like the Clippers to pay their superstars in rehab, but they expect another bounce-back year this season as they get their superstars healthy.
3. Damian Lillard ($37,258 per minute in 1056 minutes)
Lillard's 2021-2022 campaign was cut short due to an abdomen injury, which he decided to get surgery on during the season. Dame might have only played 29 games (averaging 24 points and 7.3 assists) but still earned $37,258 per minute in the 1056 minutes he played last season. He might have been the highest earner per minute last season, but sadly Lillard's team failed to carry on without him after a disappointing 27-55 season. Hopefully, Portland's hero bounces back this upcoming season and is rewarded for his loyalty to Rip City.
2. Kawhi Leonard ($39,344,900 in 0 minutes)
When he's active and healthy, there's no doubt that Leonard is easily considered a top 5 player in the league thanks to his two-way talent abilities. However, throughout his career, Leonard has suffered multiple severe injuries, including an ACL tear from which he is still rehabbing. Still, the Klaw earned good money after making $39,344,900 in 0 minutes while rehabbing. Hopefully, Leonard returns healthy and reminds the world why he's worth the big bucks this season.
1. John Wall ($44,310,840 in 0 minutes)
Despite sitting on the bench and throwing a season away, Wall earned $44,310,840 in 0 minutes, thanks to the hefty contract extension he signed with the Washington Wizards in 2017. Unfortunately for the 5-time All-Star, his stock has depreciated, so he had to buy out of his contract and sign a new 2-year $13.2 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers this upcoming season.
A few takeaways
- No big man on this list says much about what kind of superstars currently dominate this league. (Jokić should make it next year, given his supermax)
- There are 5 point guards on this list, which would indicate that it's the most vital position in basketball.
- Only 4 of the players on the list made it to the Playoffs, specifically Antetokounmpo, Curry, Harden, and Durant.
- 70% of the highest-paid 10 players are from the Western Conference.