The NBA’s 10 Highest-Paid Benchwarmers


Ever taken a look at the bench during an NBA game and saw that guy sitting there in his warm-up gear, cheering on his team? If so, then you’ve noticed the twelfth man on an NBA roster. The twelfth man is the unofficial term for the last man on the depth chart of an NBA team. Teams have to dress twelve players for a game. However, typical teams only play eight or nine men in an average game. Sometimes a team will play ten players in the event that there is an injury or other issue with a starter. The last man on a team’s roster will often only play with a few minutes left in the game when his team has a considerable lead or is totally out of the game.

It’s pretty uncommon to see a twelfth man enter an NBA game but people love when it actually happens. Don’t let yourself feel too sorry for these benchwarmers, though. While they hardly get to see any game action and are often mocked for being cheerleaders of sorts, they are still paid handsomely compared to the average Joe.

The NBA’s minimum salary is $490,000 a year for rookies and $1 million for players who have been in the league for at least five years. Some of the NBA’s twelfth men are rookies who are just getting their feet wet, but others are experienced veterans who provide mentorship and guidance for younger, more capable players on the team. Here’s a look at the NBA’s highest-paid benchwarmers for the 2013 season.

10. Tornike Shengelia – Brooklyn Nets – $780,000

Tornike Shengelia is a native of Georgia who played nineteen games for the Brooklyn Nets last year, averaging around 4.9 minutes per game. The 22-year-old scored thirty points during those nineteen games, eleven of which came in his league debut against the Boston Celtics. Shengelia has had multiple assignments this season with the Springfield Armor, the Nets’ NBA Development League affiliate. His $780,000 salary is a $300,000 increase over what he earned in his rookie year.