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The 15 Highest Paid NBA Players (2012-13 Edition)

by: Esteban On  Friday, November 2, 2012

highest paid nba players

This summer we had one of the most interesting NBA offseasons we’ve seen in a long time with some pretty big names moving around the league. And with the 2012-13 NBA season now underway, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what the top players in the league will be earning this year.

However, I’m not only going to provide you with the players’ salaries for this season. I’m also going to provide you with a stat that will give you a rough idea of the value teams are getting for their money. That stat is basketball-reference.com’s “Win Shares.”

Now, I know advanced stats can be confusing, and this one can be especially so, since a player’s value doesn’t always correlate perfectly with the number of points he scores per game. However, the fact is, when you add up the “Win Shares” of every player on a team, the vast majority of the time that sum is within 2 or 3 games of the team’s actual win total. That means it is a fairly accurate measurement, and thus very suitable for our purposes of getting an idea of how much bang teams are getting for their bucks.

So, are you ready to see who’s making the big money this year in the NBA? Then let’s get to it.

15. Kevin Durant

15 kevin durant thunder - highest paid nba players

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

24: AGE

2012-13 Salary: $16,669,630

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 38.3

He may be expensive for Oklahoma City, but the fact is, in terms of production, Kevin Durant is a bargain at $16M. The only player who provides more bang for the buck on this list is LeBron James. But of course, he’s 3 years older than Durant. What will KD do over the next three years?

14. Paul Pierce

14 paul pierce celtics - highest paid nba players

Team: Boston Celtics

Age: 35

2012-13 Salary: $16,790,345

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 26.9

Paul Pierce is still a very good player. However, his best days are way behind him. Through 2007 he could pretty much count on him to score 25 PPG every year. But since then he’s averaged just 18 or 19 PPG. However, the guy is a lifelong Celtic whose helped them win a Championship. So that will get you some big bucks.

13. Andew Bynum

13 andrew bynum - highest paid nba players

Team: Philadelphia 76ers

Age: 25

2012-13 Salary: $16,889,000

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 22.4

Bynum signed a superstar contract in 2008 at the age of 21. However, now, at the age of 25, he has yet to become a superstar. Of course, even if this isn’t his breakout season (like the Sixers are hoping), the way the NBA works, there will still be some desperate team willing to overpay him.

12. Deron Williams

12 Deron Williams - highest paid nba players

Team: Brooklyn Nets

Age: 28

2012-13 Salary: $17,177,795

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 21.7

Deron Williams is one of those second-tier NBA stars: not a superstar who can carry a team on his back, but definitely way more valuable than the majority of the players in the league. Still, I’m not sure he’ll be worth all the money the Nets are set to pay him over the next 5 seasons.

11. Dwyane Wade

11 Dwyane Wade - highest paid nba players

Team: Miami Heat

Age: 30

2012-13 Salary: $17,182,000

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 33.5

If D-Wade hadn’t been injured for a good chunk of last season, he probably would have had a WS closer to 12 instead of 7.7, bringing his three-year total to about 39. So, yeah, he’s worth every penny of that $17M and more. Of course, he won’t actually make more until he’s no longer worth it, because that’s the way the NBA’s salary structure works.

10. LeBron James

10 lebron james - highest paid nba players

Team: Miami Heat

Age: 27

2012-13 Salary: $17,545,000

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 48.6

King James (or LeDouche, as I like to call him) has led the league in WS the last four seasons. His last two seasons in Cleveland, when he didn’t have other superstars to help carry the load, his WS totals were 20.3 and 18.5. Then they dipped down to 15.6 and 14.5 for the last two seasons in Miami—but he still led the league.

9. Chris Bosh

9 chris bosh - highest paid nba players

Team: Miami Heat

Age: 28

2012-13 Salary: $17,545,000

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 26.8

I mean no disrespect to the Boshtrich. Love the guy. But he’s going to get paid pretty much exactly what LeBron is going to get paid in the next three seasons, and that is just ridiculous.

8. Chris Paul

8 chris paul - highest paid nba players

Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Age: 27

2012-13 Salary: $17,779,458

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 33.9

Chris Paul is another guy who would have a higher three-year WS total if not for having missed some games in 2009-10. Looking at his entire 7-year career, this guy is a fantastic investment for the Clippers. He led the league in total WS in 2007-08 (at age 22) with 17.8, and last season he led the league in Offensive Win Shares with 10.4. So, yeah, if owned an NBA team and I had the cash, I’d gladly pay him $18M. He’s one of the top 5 offensive players in the league.

7. Pau Gasol

7 pau gasol - highest paid nba players

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Age: 32

2012-13 Salary: $19,000,000

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 34

Gasol slipped just a bit last year. His offensive rebounds, went down by about .5 per game, his points by about 1.5 per game, and his turnovers up by about .5 per game. That led to a decrease in WS from a monstrous 14.7 in 2010-11 to just 8.3 in 2011-12. So maybe his age is catching up with him. This season we’ll know for sure.

6. Dwight Howard

6 dwight howard - highest paid nba players

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Age: 26

2012-13 Salary: $19,536,360

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 35.3

Last season’s injury kept Howard’s WS total lower that it would have been otherwise. He’s pretty much been good for a 13 or so since 2007, having led the league in total rebounds, 4 out of those 5 years, so that’s what I would expect this year with the Lakers…if Kobe let’s him touch the ball.

5. Joe Johnson

5 joe johnson - highest paid nba players

Team: Brooklyn Nets

Age: 31

2012-13 Salary: $19,752,645

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 19

Joe Johnson has never led the league in anything, and over the last three years all his traditional rate stats—PPG, RPG, APG—have declined. So obviously the Nets gave him a deal that pays him almost $20M this year and a guaranteed $25M in 2015-16. When he’s 34. So that should be fun.

4. Amar'e Stoudemire

4 amar'e stoudemire - highest paid nba players

Team: New York Knicks

Age: 30

2012-13 Salary: $19,948,799

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 22.8

Amar’e's best year by advanced measurements was 2007-08, when he was 25 years old and had a WS total of 14.6. Two seasons ago, his first with the Knicks, he had identical point production (25.3 PPG), but his WS went down by 6.6, from 14.6 to 8. Why? Because his FG% dropped by 9% and his turnovers increased from 2.2 to 3.2 per game.

3. Carmelo Anthony

3 carmelo anthony - highest paid nba players

Team: New York Knicks

Age: 28

2012-13 Salary: $20,463,024

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 22

Carmelo Anthony has had 7 seasons in which he’s put up 25 PPG or more, and that’s very valuable. However, he’s never had a WS total greater higher than 9.4, and that pretty much aligns with the common sense observation that Carmelo hasn’t really been a dominant, take-over-the-game player. After all, he’s only ever had one extended playoff run in his career (2008-09). In my book, that says something.

2. Dirk Nowitzki

2 dirk nowitzki - highest paid nba players

Team: Dallas Mavericks

Age: 34

2012-13 Salary: $20,907,128

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 31

Dirk’s performance slipped considerably last season as measured by the rate states and the advanced states. In terms of rate stats, Dirk dropped from 25 PPG in 2009-10 to just 21.6 PPG in 2011-12. And in terms of advanced measurements, he went from a 12.3 WS in 2009-10 to just a 7.6 in 2011-12. So I’d say, at the ripe old age of 34, this guy’s best years are behind him.

1. Kobe Bryant

1 kobe bryant - highest paid nba players

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Age: 34

2012-13 Salary: $27,849,149

Win Shares (Prev. 3 Seasons): 25.9

At this point, you might think this WS stuff is total BS. I mean, what? Kobe Bryant has never led the league in Win Shares? His highest total is “only” 15? (That’s really high, but most of the time the league leader has around a 17.) Come on! Five championship rings!

But you know what? How many times has Kobe won the MVP award? (Answer: once.) And how many times has he led the league in scoring? (Answer: twice.) So, you know, maybe there’s something to this Win Shares thing.




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