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NBA by the Numbers: Salaries, Top Scorers and More

By Red Line Project Staff |  @RedLineProject | Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 

Breaking Down the League's Highest-Paid Players

At the beginning of each season, when the salaries of pro athletes are publicized, we’re always left wondering: How much do they actually take home?

The average NBA player salary is $7.7 million for this season, which will run through June. That figure has increased from an average salary of almost $6.4 million for the previous season, according to Basketball Reference.

While many of the NBA’s highest-paid players are on maximum-salary deals, the 2019-20 salaries for those players vary significantly depending on when the player signed his contract and how much NBA experience he has. 

This interactive chart shows Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, who will make $40.2 million in salary in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chris Paul ($38.5 million) and the Houston Rockets’ Russell Westbrook ($38.1 million). The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James is No. 6 at $37.4 million.

Additionally, NBA salaries continue to increase year-to-year, and the highest-paid player’s earnings are no exception. Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry’s earnings for the 2019-2020 season is $40.2 million, up from $37.5 million for the previous season.

The former MVP, who has won three championships with the Warriors since 2015, signed a five-year contract worth $201.2 million with the team in 2017. The deal pays Curry an average annual salary of more than $40 million, with the annual value eventually increasing to more than $45 million by 2021.

As CNBC Make It noted at the time, LeBron James will have earned more than $387 million in total salary over his career by the time his current Lakers contract expires in 2022, which will give him the highest all-time contract earnings in NBA history.

According to Forbes.com, the financials of NBA franchises have remained constant -- which is good for player salaries. The league’s salary cap is rising, fueled largely by the nine-year, $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and TNT signed in 2014. NBA players are entitled to 51% of the league’s “basketball-related income” as laid out in the collective bargaining agreement. -- Janette Romero

Milwaukee's 'Splash Mountain' Has Been Raining Threes the Past Four Seasons

Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, nicknamed "Splash Mountain", is averaging 10.8 points per game this season. He's averaging 1.4 three-pointers per game.

Last season, Lopez averaged 12.5 per game, including 2.3 three-pointers per game. Both are a departure from previous seasons for Lopez, a 7-footer known for his rebounding and inside scoring.

When Lopez entered the league in 2008 with New Jersey Nets, now the Brooklyn Nets, he had no 3-point field goal attempts. This remained at 0.0 until his 2013-14 season with the Nets, when it increased to 0.1 attempts per game. 

In his last two seasons with the Nets, Lopez began developing his 3-point skills. He jumped from 0.2 to 5.2 three-point field goal attempts per game.

During his season with Lakers, he still performed great, but he didn’t exceed his 2016-17 record for 3-point attempts until his first season with the Bucks. 

In his 2018-19 season, Lopez set his highest record for 3-point field goal attempts of 6.3. His 2-point field goal attempts were lower for the first time since the start of his career in 2008. This trend is projected to remain the same at the end of the 2019-20 regular season. 

When asked about the evolution of his 3-point shooting, Lopez has said that he has always had confidence in shooting a three, but not to the extent of which he was performing. In his first season with the Bucks, Lopez was shooting from 28 feet out or further, trailing only Stephen CurryTrae Young and Damian Lillard. -- Myra Leon

Data: Toronto's Pascal Siakam Continues to Improve, Progress

In the few seasons Pascal Siakam has played in the NBA, he has already established himself as a key player within the Raptors and the league as a whole. He was named the 2018-2019 Most Improved Player and has continued to grow since then.

Siakam has demonstrated consistent progression and growth of skill. He even played in the All-Star game this year.

Over the past four years, Siakam has nearly sextupled his points per game. He began his NBA career in the 2016-2017 season averaging 4.2 points per game, and this season he has been averaging 23.5 points per game.

On this trajectory, Siakam is projected to continue improving. Despite suffering an injury in mid-December, he returned without too much of an issue.

However, in the Raptors most recent game facing the Denver Nuggets, fans and critics alike were commenting on Siakam’s struggle.

Despite this, the general fanbase has been understanding of his struggle. They recognize how as a new player who is rocketing to stardom, he will have bad games. As with all players, each game is a learning experience.

An interesting comparison is between Siakam and Kawhi Leonard’s first four seasons playing. Leonard currently boasts a 27 ppg average in the 2019-2020 season compared to Siakam’s 23.5.

Interestingly, Siakam has shown more immediate growth within his first few years than Leonard. Perhaps this is an indicator of the level Siakam could achieve, if he continues to improve as rapidly as he has been in these first few seasons. -- Joe Crump

Rose Finds Second Life as a Sixth Man

Following his rookie season with the Bulls, Derrick Rose progressed even further for the next two years. Rose’s 2010-2011 season marks his best season to date with a season total of 2,026 points. Rose had earned acclaim with the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. At the age of 22, Rose became the youngest NBA player to date to earn such recognition. 

Rose played most of the 2011-2012 season until ta fateful moment in the playoffs. In the round one 2012 playoff game between the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, Rose tore his ACL in his left knee. His injury needed surgery and as a consequence, Rose was sidelined for the 2012-2013 season. His end season score total was 852 points.

Back on the court for the 2013-2014 season, Rose’s time was short-lived due to an injury with his right meniscus. Rose was out for the remainder of the season. His scoring total was 159 points. Pushing through such a difficult time, Rose healed and came back for his 2014-2015 season. This season proved to be successful, account for his injuries. Although there were surgeries that need to be done on Rose’s knee, taking him out of a few games, Rose returned for the playoffs and finished it. His scoring total was 904 points.

Rose’s final season with the Bulls ended after his 2015-2016 season. Scoring an end total of 1,080 points, Rose finished strong after a seven-season period with his home-town team. Much focus was given to Derrick Rose’s career with the Chicago Bulls because it was his long period with a specific team. Furthermore, Rose’s period with the Bulls accounts for the period in which he was not riddled with injuries.

His career did not end once leaving the Bulls. Rose played for the New York Knicks. With all eyes on him after his trade, Rose scored an end season total of 1,154 points. He bested his last two seasons with the Bulls.

Rose continued to struggle with injuries. During his period with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he even considered if he wanted to continue playing the sport or not. Luckily, he decided against it. After being traded two more times, previously with the Minnesota Timberwolves and currently with the Detroit Pistons, Rose continues to play the sport he loves. With continuous practice and dedication, Rose achieves superb end season totals that can only get better as he improves. -- Lyndal Johnson




The graphic above shows the distribution of salaries between every player on the Chicago Bulls. The biggest salary belongs to Otto Porter jr., who has only played nine games this season. After trading for Porter last season, the Bulls had high hopes for the small forward.

Unfortunately, Porter continues to struggle to stay healthy, constantly working with doctors to get back on the court. Now, the Bulls are paying for that, literally.

The second-largest salary belongs to their best player, Zach LaVine. Coming off ACL recovery and a sluggish season, the Bulls were able to sign LaVine to an affordable contract, despite having All-Star talent. 

Many of the other players have affordable contracts as well. This is because most of them are still on their rookie contracts. Being one of the youngest teams in the league definitely has its benefits. -- Oscar Herrera

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