How Much Does the Average NBA Player Make in His Career?

Playing in the NBA is certainly a lucrative endeavor, especially for superstar players like LeBron James and Steph Curry. But even the lowest-paid players make a decent living compared to the average person. But how much do NBA players make over the course of their careers? And how long do their careers typically last? Let’s take a closer look at how much NBA players earn. 

How long is the average NBA career? 

To get an idea of how long an NBA career could possibly go on for, look no further than the Atlanta Hawks’ Vince Carter. Carter is in his 22nd and final NBA season. He’s stayed in tremendous shape and has taken great care of himself.

He also possesses great athleticism on top of that, adding to his longevity. But Carter is a radical outlier. The average NBA career is much shorter. While there isn’t a lot of data on the subject, the last conclusive research done on it showed that the average NBA player played for roughly 4.8 years. These figures include super-long careers such as Carter and Dirk Nowitzki as well as shorter careers for fringe-type players who don’t last very long in the league. 

This gives the majority of NBA players a significantly short window for acquiring wealth due to their basketball ability. But many players in the past weren’t able to capitalize on their careers due to smaller sums of money being made available to the players of yesteryear.

Thankfully, the NBA took steps to change that and take care of their former players in a major way several years ago.

What are the new CBA provisions for NBA players after retirement? 

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The deaths of two former superstars Daryl Dawkins and Moses Malone prompted the NBA to change the benefits they provided to retired players. They didn’t want to risk another former player dying too young due to health reasons. The NBA instituted a new rule in which they would provide medical benefits to former players as part of their retirement package. 

They were the first major sport to do so, though some argued it was long overdue. Carmelo Anthony was very influential during the CBA negotiations and praised the deal after it was made: 

“That was kind of a big point for us to be able to give back to retired players…Every league sees what happens to retired players after a certain period of time. But for us to be able to take care of those guys, I know how much it means to them.”

This was a great gesture by the NBA to help the people who paved the way for today’s players to make the exorbitant sums they now pull in. It will take care of future retired players but also keeps an eye on the past as well. But how much do players today make, exactly? 

How much does the average NBA player make in his career? 

The average career earnings of an NBA player is about $24.7 million. Compare that to the other major sports’ average career earnings: 

  • NFL: $6.1 million 
  • MLB: $17.9 million
  • NHL: $13.6 million

That makes it the highest of the four major team sports. This is a lopsided amount, of course. The best players make astronomical amounts that hike this figure up while the league’s youngest players and those making the veteran minimum make much less. But this is true of every sport with the exception of the NFL and its massive rosters. 

The bottom line? The NBA is the best league to play in when it comes to average career earnings. None of the others come particularly close, either.