How Much Do NBA Draft Picks Get Paid?

how much do nba draft picks make

In high-level competitive sports, it’s incredibly common to have a limit to how much you can pay draft picks. This is, in part, to avoid having overinflated contracts – when first-round picks are paid more than seasoned pros, the Player’s Association tends to get upset.

The NBA is no exception – they have created a system to determine exactly how much first-round picks can get paid. When it comes to second-round picks, things are quite a bit more vague. We’ll cover both first and second-round picks in this piece:

How much do first-round NBA draft picks get paid?

The answer to this question is actually pretty straightforward – if you just want the numbers, head down to the 2020 Draft Pick Table section. For those of you who want a deeper understanding of first-round draft pick contracts, keep reading – we’re going to dive in:

How is the pay scale determined?

The rookie scale is determined by the NBA’s salary cap. Basically, as the salary cap increases, so too does the first-year rookie wage scale. In other words, rookies salaries are based on the NBA’s salary cap.

How first-round contracts work

In the NBA, first-round draft picks are offered two-year contracts. Teams are also offered options for the 3rd and 4th years – these options allow teams to continue their contract with the player. After the 4th year, a player becomes a restricted free agent. 

Basically, restricted free agents are allowed to sign with other teams, but their original team has the opportunity to match any offer another team puts on the table. In order to keep a player after their fourth year, a team must also make what’s known as a Qualifying Offer. 

This is all important to understand, because the table we’re about to present will show what the Qualifying Offer is for each pick, as a percentage of their fourth-year salary.

The 2020 Draft Pick Table

The NBA’s rookie pay scale differs from most major leagues, in that the actual amounts shown aren’t necessarily the rookie’s salary.

That’s because teams are allowed to offer as much as 120% or as little as 80% of what’s shown in the rookie pay scale table. Practically speaking, almost all first-round contracts are paid 120% of the amount shown.

Pick1st-Year Salary2nd-Year Salary3rd-Year Salary4th-Year OptionQualifying Offer
1$8,131,200$8,537,900$8,944,50026.1%30%
2$7,275,200$7,639,000$8,002,80026.2%30.5%
3$6,533,300$6,859,800$7,186,60026.4%31.2%
4$5,890,300$6,185,000$6,479,50026.5%31.9%
5$5,334,100$5,600,600$5,867,40026.7%32.6%
6$4,844,700$5,086,900$5,329,30026.8%33.4%
7$4,422,600$4,643,900$4,864,80027%34.1%
8$4,051,700$4,254,300$4,456,90027.2%34.8%
9$3,724,300$3,910,700$4,096,80027.4%35.5%
10$3,538,100$3,715,000$3,891,80027.5%36.2%
11$3,361,200$3,529,300$3,697,50032.7%36.9%
12$3,193,200$3,353,000$3,512,60037.8%37.6%
13$3,033,500$3,185,200$3,336,90042.9%38.3%
14$2,882,000$3,026,000$3,170,30048.1%39.1%
15$2,737,600$2,874,500$3,011,40053.3%39.8%
16$2,600,900$2,730,900$2,861,10053.4%40.5%
17$2,470,700$2,594,300$2,717,90053.6%41.2%
18$2,347,300$2,464,600$2,582,00053.8%41.9%
19$2,241,600$2,353,600$2,465,90054%42.6%
20$2,151,800$2,259,400$2,366,80054.2%43.3%
21$2,065,700$2,169,100$2,272,40059.3%44.1%
22$1,983,200$2,082,300$2,181,50064.5%44.8%
23$1,904,000$1,999,300$2,094,20069.7%45.5%
24$1,827,900$1,919,200$2,010,70074.9%46.2%
25$1,754,600$1,842,200$1,930,20080.1%46.9%
26$1,696,500$1,781,200$1,866,00080.3%47.6%
27$1,647,500$1,729,900$1,812,40080.4%48.3%
28$1,637,300$1,719,400$1,801,20080.5%49%
29$1,625,500$1,706,700$1,788,10080.5%50%
30$1,613,700$1,694,300$1,775,20080.5%50%

(Thanks to Rookie Wire for providing the information on player salaries this year).

Note that in the first year, picks are paid a percentage of their 3rd-year salary. If the first player drafted is receiving 120% of their 3rd-year salary, they’d be paid $10,733,400 that year – if the 4th-year option was accepted, the player would be paid 26.1% of that $10,733,400 ($12,880,080).

Those sure look like the 2019-2020 salaries…

That’s because they’re exactly the same. COVID-19 reduced the NBA’s income, so salary caps did not change. As a result, the rookie wage scale is exactly the same.

How much do second-round NBA draft picks get paid?

Second-round picks are, unsurprisingly, paid less than their first-round counterparts. In fact, the rookie wage scale doesn’t apply to second-round picks at all.

How second-round contracts work

Basically, there are no special rules for the contracts that are signed in the second-round of NBA drafting. This typically doesn’t work out in favor of the players, as teams will tend to negotiate lower value contracts with them.

This means that the standard 2-year contract isn’t obligatory for second-round picks – it also means the 3rd and 4th-round options are not applicable. 

Are second-round draft picks guaranteed money?

This doesn’t mean that second-round picks are getting totally shafted, however – they still earn quite a bit of cash. The NBA has a minimum salary – for a player who has just signed, that salary is $898,310. Each year of experience that a player has, their minimum salary increases.

What the lowest paid players make

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward – they make $898,310 – at least, for first-year contracts tendered in 2020-2021. 

With that, you know the NBA draft salary basics. Any time you have a question about salaries, picks, the draft, or almost anything else, check our Resources page – we’re always updating with the facts you need about your favorite sports. 

The NBA is no exception – they have created a system to determine exactly how much first-round picks can get paid. When it comes to second-round picks, things are quite a bit more vague. We’ll cover both first and second-round picks in this piece:

How much do first-round NBA draft picks get paid?

The answer to this question is actually pretty straightforward – if you just want the numbers, head down to the 2020 Draft Pick Table section. For those of you who want a deeper understanding of first-round draft pick contracts, keep reading – we’re going to dive in:

How is the pay scale determined?

The rookie scale is determined by the NBA’s salary cap. Basically, as the salary cap increases, so too does the first-year rookie wage scale. In other words, rookies salaries are based on the NBA’s salary cap.

How first-round contracts work

In the NBA, first-round draft picks are offered two-year contracts. Teams are also offered options for the 3rd and 4th years – these options allow teams to continue their contract with the player. After the 4th year, a player becomes a restricted free agent. 

Basically, restricted free agents are allowed to sign with other teams, but their original team has the opportunity to match any offer another team puts on the table. In order to keep a player after their fourth year, a team must also make what’s known as a Qualifying Offer. 

This is all important to understand, because the table we’re about to present will show what the Qualifying Offer is for each pick, as a percentage of their fourth-year salary.

The 2020 Draft Pick Table

The NBA’s rookie pay scale differs from most major leagues, in that the actual amounts shown aren’t necessarily the rookie’s salary.

That’s because teams are allowed to offer as much as 120% or as little as 80% of what’s shown in the rookie pay scale table. Practically speaking, almost all first-round contracts are paid 120% of the amount shown.

Pick1st-Year Salary2nd-Year Salary3rd-Year Salary4th-Year OptionQualifying Offer
1$8,131,200$8,537,900$8,944,50026.1%30%
2$7,275,200$7,639,000$8,002,80026.2%30.5%
3$6,533,300$6,859,800$7,186,60026.4%31.2%
4$5,890,300$6,185,000$6,479,50026.5%31.9%
5$5,334,100$5,600,600$5,867,40026.7%32.6%
6$4,844,700$5,086,900$5,329,30026.8%33.4%
7$4,422,600$4,643,900$4,864,80027%34.1%
8$4,051,700$4,254,300$4,456,90027.2%34.8%
9$3,724,300$3,910,700$4,096,80027.4%35.5%
10$3,538,100$3,715,000$3,891,80027.5%36.2%
11$3,361,200$3,529,300$3,697,50032.7%36.9%
12$3,193,200$3,353,000$3,512,60037.8%37.6%
13$3,033,500$3,185,200$3,336,90042.9%38.3%
14$2,882,000$3,026,000$3,170,30048.1%39.1%
15$2,737,600$2,874,500$3,011,40053.3%39.8%
16$2,600,900$2,730,900$2,861,10053.4%40.5%
17$2,470,700$2,594,300$2,717,90053.6%41.2%
18$2,347,300$2,464,600$2,582,00053.8%41.9%
19$2,241,600$2,353,600$2,465,90054%42.6%
20$2,151,800$2,259,400$2,366,80054.2%43.3%
21$2,065,700$2,169,100$2,272,40059.3%44.1%
22$1,983,200$2,082,300$2,181,50064.5%44.8%
23$1,904,000$1,999,300$2,094,20069.7%45.5%
24$1,827,900$1,919,200$2,010,70074.9%46.2%
25$1,754,600$1,842,200$1,930,20080.1%46.9%
26$1,696,500$1,781,200$1,866,00080.3%47.6%
27$1,647,500$1,729,900$1,812,40080.4%48.3%
28$1,637,300$1,719,400$1,801,20080.5%49%
29$1,625,500$1,706,700$1,788,10080.5%50%
30$1,613,700$1,694,300$1,775,20080.5%50%

(Thanks to Rookie Wire for providing the information on player salaries this year).

Note that in the first year, picks are paid a percentage of their 3rd-year salary. If the first player drafted is receiving 120% of their 3rd-year salary, they’d be paid $10,733,400 that year – if the 4th-year option was accepted, the player would be paid 26.1% of that $10,733,400 ($12,880,080).

Those sure look like the 2019-2020 salaries…

That’s because they’re exactly the same. COVID-19 reduced the NBA’s income, so salary caps did not change. As a result, the rookie wage scale is exactly the same.

How much do second-round NBA draft picks get paid?

Second-round picks are, unsurprisingly, paid less than their first-round counterparts. In fact, the rookie wage scale doesn’t apply to second-round picks at all.

How second-round contracts work

Basically, there are no special rules for the contracts that are signed in the second-round of NBA drafting. This typically doesn’t work out in favor of the players, as teams will tend to negotiate lower value contracts with them.

This means that the standard 2-year contract isn’t obligatory for second-round picks – it also means the 3rd and 4th-round options are not applicable. 

Are second-round draft picks guaranteed money?

This doesn’t mean that second-round picks are getting totally shafted, however – they still earn quite a bit of cash. The NBA has a minimum salary – for a player who has just signed, that salary is $898,310. Each year of experience that a player has, their minimum salary increases.

What the lowest paid players make

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward – they make $898,310 – at least, for first-year contracts tendered in 2020-2021. 

With that, you know the NBA draft salary basics. Any time you have a question about salaries, picks, the draft, or almost anything else, check our Resources page – we’re always updating with the facts you need about your favorite sports. 

For more information on our expert NBA picks click here!

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