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The Oklahoma City Thunder are the World Champions of Pay

Of the top 25 teams across the world with the highest average pay per player, 19 belong to the NBA.

The starting five for the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma City Thunder)

According to Sporting Intelligence, the 2017 Oklahoma City Thunder have the highest average pay per player among a pool of 465 teams across 29 leagues, 16 countries, and 9 sports. The average pay for the Thunder roster is $9.295 million.

While it is impressive that the Thunder are leading the way around the world, what is even more remarkable is the National Basketball Association’s presence across the entire study.


Of the top 25 teams across the world with the highest average pay per player, 19 belong to the NBA. The NBA also maintains what Sporting Intelligence called a “fair ratio” in terms of top and bottom teams, with the Thunder having a 2.2 to 1 ratio to the Bulls, who come in last in the NBA at $4.29 million per player.

According to the study, the NBA also does a good job of spreading the money around among all of the players,

The NBA is less ‘top heavy’ than most of the GSSS leagues, with the top 10 per cent of earners making ‘only’ 34 per cent of the money. Almost three in 10 of the players (or 120 from 442) are earning $10 million or more this season, with 70 of them making $15m+ and 39 of those making $20m+.

NFL players make the most per game, however play much fewer games than the other leagues atop the list. (Sporting Intelligence)

One of the more interesting findings spelled out by the study is the breakdown of what the average player makes per game. NBA players make about half of an average NFL game check per game yet play over five times as many games.

While the NBA has managed to become one of the highest paying leagues in the world, it begs the question, where is the WNBA. That answer is not so jubilant.

While the WNBA ranks highest among the Women’s leagues measured by the study, Sporting Intelligence found that for every 1 woman making a full-time living as a soccer player, you would find at least 106 men. You can see in the below chart just how drastic a difference exists between men’s salaries and their female counterparts.

The average pay for players in Women’s leagues around the world. (Sporting Intelligence)

Among the other professional sports leagues in the United States, the highest paid teams in each league are with rank and average pay per player.

NFL: Oakland Raiders 108 ($2.986 million)

NHL: Washington Capitals 71 ($3.67 million)

MLB: Detroit Tigers 22 ($6.932 million)

MLS: Toronto F.C. 210 ($829,623)

You can find the study in its entirety HERE.


Front Office Sports is a leading multi-platform publication and industry resource that covers the intersection of business and sports.

Want to learn more, or have a story featured about you or your organization? Contact us today.

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