Superstar NBA players are paid big money for the amount of points that they can deliver on any given night. Sure, LeBron James is a great all-around basketball player, but neither the Miami Heat nor the Cleveland Cavaliers gave him contracts because he does so well getting back on defense.
Injuries to two stars who were hoped to be key men for their teams made their contracts disasters regarding money earned per points scored. One of those players will be retiring in the near future. The other may never reach his full potential due to a history of knee problems.
As the 2014/15 NBA campaign starts, let’s hope these players are worth the money they make in terms of their offensive production. These are the 10 highest-paid NBA players per point in 2013.
10. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks: $13,095 Per Point
Nowitzki is regarded as one of the greatest power forwards in the history of the NBA. He has won Most Valuable Player honors for the regular season (2007) and the NBA Finals (2011). Nowitzki has averaged 22.5 points for his career, and he started 80 regular season games for the Mavs last season.
Dallas rewarded Nowitzki with a contract that will keep him with the team up through the end of his career. The 36-year-old is signed through the completion of the 2016-17 season. Nowitzki will make $25 million in guaranteed money off of that deal alone.
9. Chris Bosh – Miami Heat: $14,884 Per Point
Bosh was not paid to be a scoring machine and an offensive team leader during the “Big Three” era of the Heat. He was but one piece of a puzzle that included Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. That experiment, one that included James taking his talents to South Beach, worked out well for Miami. The team won two NBA championships, and appeared in the Finals two additional times.
More will be expected of Bosh for 2014-15. James announced last July that he was leaving Miami to return home to Ohio and to the Cleveland Cavaliers, leaving Bosh as the best player on the roster of the Heat. This will be a “show-me” season for the 30-year-old.
8. Paul Pierce – Brooklyn Nets: $15,181 Per Point
Brooklyn attempted to recreate the formula used by the Boston Celtics when the team brought Pierce, Kevin Garnett and others to the roster of the Nets 2013. While the Nets did make it into the playoffs, the team that was responsible for the highest payroll in the NBA could not get past LeBron James and the Miami Heat in postseason play.
Pierce and the Nets have since parted ways. After reportedly being close to joining the Los Angeles Clippers, Pierce signed with the Washington Wizards. The 37-year-old will make over $10 million guaranteed off of what will likely be his final NBA contract.
7. Dwight Howard – Houston Rockets: $15,815 Per Point
Howard isn’t paid to just put the ball into the basket. He is, when fully healthy and at his best, a defensive force underneath, and Howard has the goods to be the top rebounder in the NBA. Howard’s point totals went up in recent years, and his 1,297 points for 2013-14 was tops for him over the past three seasons.
Durability could begin to be a concern for Howard. He underwent back surgery a couple of years ago, and there are worries about his knees being able to withstand full NBA seasons at this stage of his career. The big man carries roughly 260 pounds on his 6-foot-11 frame, and Howard will be entering his 11th NBA season.
6. Joe Johnson – Brooklyn Nets: $17,242 Per Point
Fair or not, any discussions about Johnson‘s career or about his production on the court will be linked with his contract. Johnson was fourth overall in top NBA salaries for 2013-14. He rises to third in the list this coming season, as his contract will be worth over $23 million.
Johnson’s numbers were down last season. He averaged under 16 points per game (15.8) for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign. The 33-year-old will be expected to be a cornerstone on a Nets team hoping to compete for more than just a postseason berth this time around.
Johnson has been both consistent and dependable, but age eventually catches up to all athletes. Brooklyn will need Johnson at his best during the spring months.
5. Pau Gasol – Los Angeles Lakers: $18,316 Per Point
Gasol has understandably begun to show the wear and tear that comes from playing in a dozen NBA seasons. After starting all 82 regular season games for the Lakers in 2010-11, the 34-year-old hasn’t since appeared in more than 65 contests in a campaign. He made 60 starts for the Lakers last season, and he scored a total of 1,041 points.
As was expected, Gasol was allowed to enter free agency last summer. He signed with the Chicago Bulls in July. Gasol will make a guaranteed $22,346,280 off of that deal.
4. Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat: $18,164 Per Point
Wade has put his body on the line and sacrificed it for the Heat season after season. The loyal soldier for Miami has won three NBA titles while with the club. Wade was the 2006 NBA Final Most Valuable Player. He is the best player in the history of the franchise.
There is only so much one man can give.
The days of Wade giving the Heat a full season are well into the past. He hasn’t appeared in 70 regular season games since 2010-11. No longer the top man in Miami, Wade is being paid for what he can hopefully deliver the team in postseason play.
3. Amar’e Stoudemire – New York Knicks: $28,082 Per Point
Stoudemire‘s body began to betray him at what is a young age, even for professional athletes. Damage to his knee cartilage. Foot and ankle problems. Pulled muscles.
It’s hard to believe Stoudemire turns only 32 years old in November.
The veteran of 12 years will be looking to avoid this list a year from now, and not just as a matter of personal pride. Stoudemire is set to be out of contract following the upcoming season. Only one NBA player, the man atop this list, will make more money via his team contract than Stoudemire (over $23 million) in 2014-15.
2. Derrick Rose – Chicago Bulls: $110,897Per Point
Rose‘s battles against injury bugs have been well documented. The 26-year-old with a history of knee problems sat out the 2012-13 season, and Rose was expected to be 100 percent last fall. That lasted 10 NBA starts before Rose suffered a torn meniscus, an injury that ended his season.
Rose has proven himself to have Most Valuable Player talent. He is a big reason so many are predicting that Chicago is the only team that will be able to hang with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014-15. The sad reality of the situation is that the Bulls cannot count on Rose to be there in April and May.
It’s likely that we will never know just how great Rose could have been.
1. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers: $366,913 Per Point
Bryant has more than earned his NBA salaries throughout his historic career. The five-time NBA champion has two regular season Most Valuable Player Awards to his name. Bryant is the best overall pro basketball player of the past 20 years, and his Hall of Fame shrine can already be ordered and sculpted.
That said, the end of his playing days is fast approaching.
The 36-year-old appeared in only six games last season before suffering a knee fracture. There is speculation that 2014-15 will be Bryant’s last NBA season, and it’s possible that he could find himself on next year’s edition of this list if he is unable to remain healthy.
Bryant is set to make $23.5 million this season.