The highest-paid player on each Western Conference NBA team for the 2013-2014 season isn’t always a high-scoring shooting guard.
Rather, in our list we have everything from point guards to centers. There’s also considerable variety in what the highest earners of small/large market teams are earning, as would be expected. On this list you’ll see 2013-2014 season salaries from $8 million to $21.6 million.
According to Forbes, NBA players are the highest-earning professional athletes, earning an average salary of $5.15 million. MLB players earn $3.2 million on average, NHL players make $2.4 million, and the average NFL salary is $1.9 million per year.
So, it pays better to shoot the rock for 82 games a year than it does to lace up one’s spikes for the 162-game grind that is the MLB season. Further, it’s nearly twice as profitable to play the 82 games of the NBA season than it is to participate in the 82 contents that make up the NHL season. Certainly, this doesn’t seem just from a physical punishment standpoint, but demand dictates price, and it’s hard to make a comparison with what NFL players endure only 16 times per year (if their teams don’t make the playoffs).
However, there are around 400 players in NBA at any given time, around 1,200 players in the MLB, and more than 1,600 NFL-ers. Thus, even though the two latter sports are more popular than the NBA, there are significantly fewer pieces of NBA pie to be cut.
In other words, bigger pieces of pie for those running the hardwood. Here’s a look at the highest paid player on each Western Conference squad.
3 Northwest Division
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant, Small Forward, $17.8 million
The second overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, Kevin Durant has been among the best players in the NBA since he entered the league. After distinguishing himself in his first years with the Thunder, the team inked him to a five-year, $89 million deal. Interestingly, Durant, the top scorer in the NBA this season, is only the 15th-highest-paid player in the league.
Portland Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge, Power Forward, $14.1 million
Career Portland Trail Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge is the eighth-highest-paid power forward in the NBA. Since joining the squad in 2006, Aldridge has improved his performance each season. In 2010, the team resigned the 6’11 player to a five-year, $65 million deal with the squad that will pay him $14.1 million for his services during the 2013-2014 season.
Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson, Point Guard, $10.78 million
Point guard Ty Lawson is the highest-paid Denver Nugget this year. Lawson is due to earn $10.78 million for his services during the 2013-2014 season. The former North Carolina Tar Heel signed a four-year, $48 million deal with Denver in October of 2012.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love, Power Forward, $14.6 million
The Minnesota Timberwolves likely love the fact that they’re only paying power forward Kevin Love $14.6 million this year. Love is fourth in the league in points per game, presently, and he is only the 22nd-best-paid baller in the NBA. Translation: great value for the ‘Wolves.
Utah Jazz: Richard Jefferson, Small Forward, $11 million
Veteran small forward Richard Jefferson is the highest-paid player on the Utah Jazz, despite averaging only 10 points per game for the squad. Jefferson is the 11th-highest-paid small forward in the league and likely wasn’t perceived to be worth his $11 million salary by the San Antonio Spurs, who traded Jefferson in July of 2013.
2 Pacific Division
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul, Point Guard, $18.6 million
It’s safe to say Chris Paul vastly out-earns his commercial twin, Cliff. Paul is the highest-paid point guard in the NBA with good reason, as he’s a lock to put up 15 points and nearly 10 assists a game. His services running the point in L.A. are invaluable, and he’s paid accordingly.
Phoenix Suns: Emeka Okafor, Center, $14.4 million
Emeka Okafor was traded to the Phoenix Suns in October of last year, and although he has yet to play a game for the Phoenix team, he’s the highest-paid player on the the squad. The veteran Center has averaged 12.3 points per game throughout his career, along with 9.9 blocks.
Golden State Warriors: Andrew Bogut, Center, $14 million
The Golden State Warriors’ big man, Andrew Bogut, is due to earn $14 for his services during the 2013-2014 NBA season. In his final season with the Milwaukee Bucks two years ago, Bogut averaged 11.3 points per game and 8.3 rebounds. With the Bucks this year, his points are down (8.2 PPG), but his rebounds are up (10.7).
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant, Shooting Guard, $30.4 million
In case you are somehow unaware: the Mamba gets paid. The 35-year-old, who has spent much of the season on the bench due to injury. The Lakers elected to fill Bryant’s pockets for his long goodbye when they re-signed the veteran shooting guard to a two-year, $48.5 million deal which kicks in after his present three-year, $83 million contract expires at the end of the season.
Sacramento Kings: Rudy Gay, Small Forward, $17.8 million
The Sacramento Kings are in seven-year veteran Rudy Gay’s debt to the tune of $17.8 million this season. Gay is in the penultimate season of a five-year, $82 million contract with the club. The former Connecticut standout is the third-highest-paid small forward in the NBA.
1 Southwest Division
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker, Point Guard, $12.5 million
31-year-old Tony Parker is the fifth-highest-paid point guard in the NBA. The Frenchman is in the third year of a four-year, $50 million deal with the Spurs. The man Tony Parker is often feeding the ball to, Tim Duncan, is due to earn $10.3 million for his work this season.
Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard, Center, $20.5 million
When Dwight Howard decided to defect from the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets rewarded him with a max deal: $87.5 million over four years. For the 2013-2014 portion of that arrangement, the center is slated to earn $20.5 million. Howard is the sixth-highest-paid player in the league this year.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, Power Forward, $22.7 million
Dirk Nowitzki has delivered great value to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban during his 15-year career. As such, it’s no surprise that the owner elected to award the German superstar with a four-year, $80 million deal in 2010. Even at age 35, the seven-footer is still delivering nearly 22 points per game, which is consistent with his career average.
Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph, Power Forward, $18.23 million
Power forward Zach Randolph signed a four-year, $66 million extension with the Grizzlies in 2011. If he collects all possible performance incentives, the Michigan State Spartan will rake in $18.23 million in 2014. Randolph is the 13th-highest-paid player in the NBA.
New Orleans Pelicans: Eric Gordon, Shooting Guard, $15.5 million
The final entry on our list, Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans was traded to the club in December of 2011. Thus, the team is on the hook for his four-year, $58 million contract. Gordon is the fourth-highest-paid shooting guard in the NBA behind Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, and Dwyane Wade.