I’m going to let you in on a little secret: playing in the NBA will make you really rich. There are only about 450 players in the entire league at any given time, so it makes sense that the job would pay a ton, given how brutal the competition is for a spot on the court.
Heading into the 2019-2020 season, the lowest-paid player in the league is expected to make about $85,000, according to ESPN, which makes his salary about twice that of the average American salary but far less than most of his colleagues.
These are the 25 highest-paid players for the upcoming season, and it should come as no surprise that many of these men are also among the absolute best ballers in the league.
25. DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs — $27.7 million
Former Raptors star and current Spurs star DeMar DeRozan was the 15th highest-paid player in 2018, and he slips 10 spots heading into 2019, despite making the same amount of money. DeRozan’s offensive production slipped a bit last season, with his 21.2 points per game being his lowest total since 2014, which was also the last time he’d missed being named an All-Star before last year. He still helped lead the Spurs to the playoffs, but they were bounced in the first round.
23. (Tie) Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers — $28 million
We named Al Horford one of the 25 best players in the NBA last season, and he’s certainly getting paid like he is. In the offseason, the five-time All-Star center signed with the 76ers after three seasons with the Celtics. His numbers in Boston were never as amazing as they were when he played for the Atlanta Hawks during his first years in the league, but the 33-year-old big man still has plenty to offer, thanks especially for his knack for taking high-percentage shots. Horford is set to make $28 million this season, which is down slightly from his $28.9 million salary a year ago.
23. (Tie) Nikola Vučević, Orlando Magic — $28 million
Orlando’s Nikola Vučević was 25th on this list a year ago, making $24.6 million, but he’s set to clear $28 million from the Magic in 2019-2020, thanks to a new max deal he signed in the offseason. He earned that pay bump by putting together the first All-Star season of his career last year, averaging 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, all three of which were career highs. If Vučević continues to put up numbers like that, you’ll likely see him vault even higher on this list in coming seasons.
22. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers — $28.9 million
The 2018-19 season wasn’t a marquee one for Cavs forward Kevin Love, seeing him miss more than half of the season with a nagging toe injury. In the 22 games he did play, Love was his usual, dependable self, averaging 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Since the departure of LeBron James in 2018, the Cavs have made Love their star attraction, paying him $28.9 million for the upcoming season, which represents a raise of nearly $5 million from last year. He’s the team’s only player among the top 60 highest-paid ballers in the league for 2019.
21. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers — $29.8 million
One of the league’s best rising stars, Damian Lillard led the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals last season in his second consecutive All-Star year. Heading into his eighth NBA season, Lillard is making bank, with his $29.8 million salary being a slight bump from his $27.9 million paycheck in 2018. He averaged a career-high 6.9 assists per game last season while also contributing nearly 26 points per game for an exciting offense.
20. Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets — $30.3 million
Making about $1 million more than he did during the 2018 season, Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap still managed to drop a bit on the yearly ranking from 12th. He helped Denver shock much of the league by finishing second in the Western Conference before losing in the second round of the playoffs. Millsap’s 12.6 points per game were his fewest since 2009 but the 34-year-old former All-Star is making the money of a star in his prime.
19. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers — $30.5 million
Six-time NBA All-Star Paul George was traded to the Clippers this year, after just two stellar seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. His salary remains the same from a year ago, according to ESPN, earning $30.5 million for his considerable talents. George has averaged at least 21.9 points per game every season since 2015, showing why he’s paid like one of the game’s elite talents. However, he’s not quite the highest earner on his new team.
18. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks — $30.6 million
After he had a breakout season in 2018-19, the Bucks locked Khris Middleton into a new, five-year deal in 2019, significantly upping his salary. Last year, Middleton made $13 million, barely cracking the top 100 of the league’s top earners. The 28-year-old forward made his first All-Star game last season, averaging career highs in rebounds (6.0) and assists (4.3), while also contributing more than 18 points per game to the league’s best team, in terms of overall record.
17. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets — $31.7 million
It’s hard to believe that Kyrie Irving hardly ranked among the top 50 highest-paid NBA players in 2018, but he was making $20 million with the Celtics. The star point guard, who has made the All-Star team in six of the past seven seasons, signed a lucrative deal with the Nets in the offseason, suddenly putting him into the top 20. Irving is a reliable 23-plus-point scorer, but he upped his value even more in 2018 by averaging career highs in assists (6.9) and rebounds (5.0).
16. Mike Conley, Utah Jazz — $32.5 million
The arrival of Mike Conley in Utah makes the Jazz one of the most intimidating teams heading into the 2019 season. He was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason, after spending all 12 seasons of his career there and becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. He averaged a career-high 21.1 points per game in 2018, proving he’s worth the massive amount of cash he’ll earn this time around. In 2018, Conley’s $30.5 million salary ranked him in the top 10 for the NBA’s top earners, but he drops a bit this year, despite making $2 million extra.
15. Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics — $32.7 million
Things have been rough for Gordon Hayward since signing a massive, four-year deal with the Celtics in 2017, despite making great money. He suffered a devastating ankle injury that forced him to miss the entire 2017 season, and his production in 2018 was well below what it typically had been for the former All-Star. He’ll be a major focal point of the new-look Celtics, following the departure of star teammates Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, along with new partner Kemba Walker. This will be a big year for Hayward to prove he was worth that large contract.
10. (Tie) Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat — $32.74 million
There are five players tied with the salary of $32.74 million for 2019-20 for 10th place, and we’re going to sort in alphabetical order. Jimmy Butler has had a wild few seasons, bouncing from Chicago to Minnesota to Philadelphia since 2017. The four-time All-Star has landed in Miami for the upcoming slate, and fans are hoping he’ll stay for a while. Butler has proven himself to be one of the league’s best defenders, and he’s typically capable of at least 20 points per game on a given night, as he’s shown since 2014.
10. (Tie) Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers — $32.74 million
Just like his former teammate Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris has bounced around a lot in the past few seasons. Since 2015, he’s played for the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers signed him to a nice five-year deal in the offseason, which gives him his massive salary. Harris is the highest-ranking player on this list to have never been named an All-Star. You get the sense it’s only a matter of time, because in 2018 he put up career-high averages with 20.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
10. (Tie) Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers — $32.74 million
It’s about time Kawhi Leonard cracked the top 25 salaries. In his eight seasons in the NBA so far, he’s led both franchises he’s played for to championships: the San Antonio Spurs in 2013-14, and the Toronto Raptors last season. He decided to take his talents to Los Angeles after earning his most recent ring, joining the Clippers and collecting a $32.74 million check this season. Leonard has missed 95 games over the past two seasons, but he put up career-best numbers in 2018-19, averaging 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
10. (Tie) Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors — $32.74 million
He sometimes gets lost in the shadow of fellow his Splash Brother, Stephen Curry, but Klay Thompson is getting paid handsomely to be a supporting player for the Warriors. He’s been instrumental in helping the team win three championships since 2014 and has made the All-Star Game in each of the past five seasons. A year ago, he was making $18.9 million, which didn’t put him in the top 50, but now he’s sitting pretty with $32.74 million for this season alone, nearly doubling his money. With the departure of Kevin Durant this offseason, Thompson will have to shoulder more of the load for the Warriors than he has for the past few years.
10. (Tie) Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics — $32.74 million
The final player tied at that $32.74 million mark is three-time All-Star Kemba Walker. He wasn’t even ranked in the top 100 for salaries last season but put together an incredible year of offense, where he scored 25.6 points per game, by far his career high, and played in all 82 games. Walker will play for the Celtics this season after having spent all eight seasons of his NBA career in Charlotte. He certainly earned his payday, averaging at least 20.9 points per game in every season since 2015.
9. Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons — $34.4 million
Pistons superstar Blake Griffin has long been one of the league’s most popular players, making six All-Star teams since he debuted in 2010. Last season, his first full campaign in Detroit, saw him put up career-high scoring numbers by averaging 24.5 points per game. The only Pistons player in the top 30, Griffin can look forward to $34.4 million in his bank account this season. Pistons fans, meanwhile, are hoping his ailing knee has fully healed in time for him to lead them to the playoffs again.
8. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors — $34.9 million
Kyle Lowry earned his place on this list by being an All-Star in each of the past five seasons and helping the Raptors franchise win its first title ever last season. Of course, he’s been making at least $30 million every season since 2016, so he’s used to being this high on the list. The star point guard saw his scoring numbers slip a bit last year, but his assist game has never been better, with him averaging 8.7 of them per game, by far the highest mark of his career.
7. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers — $37.4 million
You’d have to go back to 2011 to not find LeBron James among the 10 highest-paid players in the NBA. The 15-time All-Star and four-time MVP is the most recognizable basketball player since Michael Jordan, and he gets paid like it. The King will be collecting another $37.4 million this season from the Los Angeles Lakers, in his second season with the franchise. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for Lakers fans, as James sat out 27 games, the most in any single season for him. He averaged 27.4 points in the games he did play, but he also missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season.
4. (Tie) Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets — $38.19 million
We’ve got a three-way tie for fourth place, those making $38.19 million, and we’re going to list them in alphabetical order. First up is former MVP Kevin Durant, who split from Golden State for Brooklyn this offseason. The four-time NBA scoring leader has made the All-Star team in each of the past 10 seasons and continues to be one of the game’s most dominant forces. Durant tore his Achilles tendon during the NBA Finals last season, so Nets fans are hoping he’s ready to take their franchise past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
4. (Tie) James Harden, Houston Rockets — $38.19 million
Few players have shown they’re worth this kind of money like James Harden. The Beard has led the league in scoring for the past two seasons, and he had a historic campaign last season, putting up the 10th most single-season points in NBA history. His $38.19 million salary is a nice bump from his $30.4 million paycheck a year ago, when he was 10th on the list. Believe it or not, Harden isn’t even the highest-paid player in his own locker room.
4. (Tie) John Wall, Washington Wizards — $38.19 million
In 2017, five-time All-Star John Wall signed a massive deal to stay with the Washington Wizards, leading to the salary he’s continuing to earn. He’s missed 91 games in the past two seasons but he’s typically averaged a double double for his career. Heading into the 2019-2020 season, Wall is tied with Kevin Durant as the highest-paid players in the Eastern Conference this season, whether you think he’s earned that status or not.
2. (Tie) Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder — $38.5 million
We have one more tie for the spot of the second-highest-paid player in the NBA this season, with each man earning $38.5 million. Nine-time All-Star Chris Paul has long been considered one of the best point guards in history, and his pay matches that reputation. After two seasons with the Houston Rockets, Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook during the offseason. The 34-year-old star averaged 17.1 points and 8.0 assists per game during his time in Houston, showing he’s still got plenty to offer.
2. (Tie) Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets — $38.5 million
Speaking of that blockbuster trade, Russell Westbrook swapped uniforms during the offseason to join the Houston Rockets, making him the team’s new highest earner. Westbrook has been ranked among the league’s top-10 earners since the 2016-17 season, and he’s backed that status up all the way. The former MVP and eight-time All-Star has averaged a triple double for each of the past three seasons. We named Westbrook the sixth-best player in the league heading into last season and, honestly, we may have undersold him.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors — $40.2 million
Who else did you expect? For the third season in a row, Steph Curry is the NBA’s highest-paid player — but this is the first time he, or anyone, has crossed the $40-million mark. The three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP has been an All-Star for six straight seasons and continues to torch the scoring books. He averaged 27.3 points per game in 2018-19, the second-highest mark of his career, and averaged a career-best 5.1 three pointers per game. There’s no reason to see him dropping from this pedestal any time soon.