• Noel Moon

NBA Player Salaries by Position and Team: Who gets paid the most?

Updated: Jan 19

NBA Players are among the highest paid professional athletes. This analysis takes a look at salary differences across positions and teams.

  • The dataset includes all player salaries for the 2019-20 NBA season.

  • Using the tableau dashboard, you can click on a position, team, or player to filter the dashboard. For example, if you want to see the point guards ranked by salary, you can click PG.


NBA Players are among the highest paid professional athletes. This analysis takes a look at salary differences across positions and teams. The dataset includes all player salaries for the 2019-20 NBA season. Using the tableau linked above, you can click on a position, team, or player to filter the dashboard. For example, if you want to see the point guards ranked by salary, you can click PG.

If you look at the position vs salary graph, you can see the median salary for each position sorted from largest to smallest. There could be many factors that led to this, but one factor is how the NBA has shifted towards a greater importance on 3-point shooting. Although not always the case, point guards are often skilled shooters in order to make up for their lack of size on defense. However, this explanation does not fit well with how shooting guards are the lowest ranked position because shooting guards are also often skilled shooters. The two highest paid positions are point guard and center, which usually corresponds to the shortest and tallest players on the court, respectively. It is possible that point guards tend to contribute the most out of any position on offense, and centers contribute the most on defense. In order to explore this question, it could be worth looking at the average points per game for each position.


Ironically enough, the Knicks had the highest median salary while having one of the worst records at the time. The team that ended up winning the championship last season, the Lakers, had a median salary on the lower end of the NBA teams. These findings suggest that a higher paid team does not always lead to better in-game results. One of the possible reasons that the New York Knicks had the highest median salary is that New York is a big market who can afford to pay more for their players. Combine that with poor management and the result is an arguably overpaid team. On the other hand, it is not clear how much being a large market influences salaries because the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors were not among the highest paid.

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