Top NBA Players Who Make Less Than the League Average Salary

Below, you have the 20 greatest NBA players who will make less than the league average in 2017-18.

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At this very moment, the average NBA salary for the 2017-18 campaign is $5,950,142. That’s a rather large sum of money, but it seems small in comparison to some of the monstrous contracts we’ve seen signed this offseason. Just ask Russell Westbrook, who recently inked a five-year, $205 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This made me wonder who some of the best players in the league are who fall below that average salary. So I made a list of every NBA salary for the upcoming season, found who was making less than $5,950,142, and whittled that list down to the top 20 talents.

Since we haven’t actually seen them play significant NBA action yet, no rookies were included on this list. At least one year of NBA action was required to earn a spot among the biggest discounts in the league heading into 2017-18.

20. SG Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks
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2017-18 Salary: $3,028,140

The younger brother to the two-time MVP, Seth Curry has quietly carved out his own role with the Dallas Mavericks. It hasn’t been nearly as exciting of a ride, but there’s no denying he’s got the shooting skills to live somewhat outside of his brother’s shadow. Still, considering his sharpshooting ability and effectiveness on offense, the Mavericks are getting quite the return on their investment.

19. C Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks
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2017-18 Salary: $2,684,160

I know there’s probably a bit of bias involved in this one, but I’m a huge fan of Thon Maker’s potential. The South Sudan native has flashed star-caliber talent at times during his first two seasons, using his elite athleticism (for a 7-1 man) and surprising shooting skills to keep defenders on their toes. He’s only 20 years old, and I’m guessing there’s a long way to go before he hits his ceiling.

18. PF Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers
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2017-18 Salary: $2,422,560

Dario Saric lived up to the hype as a rookie last season, nearly walking away with the award that now has Malcolm Brogdon’s name on it. He was an exciting addition to the Process, bringing versatility, a strong presence in the paint and more perimeter shooting to the table. Now headed into his sophomore campaign, I’d guess that Saric will take another step forward among an exciting supporting cast.

17. SG Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz
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2017-18 Salary: $2,386,864

It looked like we had seen Rodney Hood’s breakout season in 2015-16. Then, he took a significant step backward last year, forcing many folks to pump the breaks on naming him one of the NBA’s top up-and-coming talents. That’s all about to change in 2017-18. With Gordon Hayward gone and Ricky Rubio running the show, Hood will have an abundance of opportunities to prove he’s a star.

16. SG Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
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2017-18 Salary: $1,312,611

The 2017 Rookie of the Year, Brogdon went from little-known prospect to one of the more intriguing additions of the past year. Now, he settles in as a prominent piece for the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that should make a serious push for the Eastern Conference crown this season. If that’s going to happen, Brogdon will need to up his game and make an even larger impact in 2017-18.

15. C Nerlens Noel, Dallas Mavericks
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2017-18 Salary: $4,187,599

Somehow, the Mavericks convinced Nerlens Noel to accept a one-year, “prove it” deal before hitting the open market in 2018. It’s a bold move for the injury-prone big man who has flashed immense potential up to this point. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but we’ve seen that he can dominate when it comes to rim protection. If he can stay healthy and perform in Dallas, expect a huge pay raise next offseason.

14. SG Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
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2017-18 Salary: $3,675,480

There were concerns early in Buddy Hield’s rookie season that he was beginning to look like a bust. However, after he was traded to the Sacramento Kings as part of the DeMarcus Cousins deal, his star began to rise. Forced into a more prominent role in California, Hield capitalized by nearly doubling his points per game total and significantly improving his field goal percentage. If this trend continues in 2017-18, the Kings will have themselves one of the NBA’s brightest young shooters.

13. PG Patrick Beverley, Los Angeles Clippers
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2017-18 Salary: $5,513,514

It’s mildly surprising to see a talented player like Patrick Beverley being so severely underpaid. Heck, the guy is coming off a season during which he was named to the All-Defensive First Team. For the Los Angeles Clippers, though, Beverley was a huge value add this offseason. Now in Hollywood, he’ll look to serve as the lockdown guard for the Clippers as they hope to stay competitive despite the major overhaul.

12. SG Josh Richardson, Miami Heat
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2017-18 Salary: $1,417,382

The Miami Heat found themselves in Josh Richardson, a 2015 second-round pick that wasn’t expected to do too much at the next level. He’s since spurned those pessimistic outlooks, turning into one of the Heat’s numerous talented wings. Richardson just got paid big, but is still set to make only $1.4 million in 2017-18. After this year, though, he’ll be raking in an annual average of $10 million.

11. PF Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
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2017-18 Salary: $4,149,242

Heading into the final year of his rookie deal before restricted free agency, Julius Randle has plenty to prove. He’s looked good up to this point, but is still an incomplete player. However, after an offseason of getting into top shape and continuing to expand his game, it could be a big season for the former No. 7 overall pick. If that’s how it plays out, the Los Angeles Lakers may be forced to reward him handsomely.

10. C Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers
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2017-18 Salary: $2,947,305

Jusuf Nurkic found himself a new home at the 2017 trade deadline, and it could be working out in his favor. His first handful of games with the Portland Trail Blazers told the story of a well-executed trade, one that could help the team seriously compete in the Western Conference in 2017-18. If his efforts help their cause, Nurkic will undoubtedly be getting paid big bucks in the near future.

9. SF T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns
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2017-18 Salary: $3,152,931

Over the last few years, we’ve watched T.J. Warren blossom into a legitimate building block for the Phoenix Suns. A versatile, two-way wing who has seen significant improvement each year, it’s only a matter of time before he emerges as a potential All-Star. Even with top pick Josh Jackson pushing for minutes, I’m expecting Warren to maintain his momentum and stay on his current trajectory. Just so we’re on the same page, he did get a huge raise this offseason but it won’t take effect until 2018-19.

8. PG D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets
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2017-18 Salary: $5,562,360

Some would say that D’Angelo Russell didn’t truly get an opportunity to prove himself in Los Angeles. Now on the other side of the country, things could be different for the former No. 2 overall pick. The Brooklyn Nets will give Russell the chance to convince them he’s the future face of this franchise. With his budding offensive skills and playmaking abilities, I’d guess he’ll have his massive contract in the near future.

7. SG Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
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2017-18 Salary: $3,202,217

Even coming off an ACL tear, Zach LaVine’s future is still very bright — it’s just now unfolding in a different city. Since being traded to the Chicago Bulls, we’ve been waiting and wondering what the Windy City would have in store for the high-flying guard. Although it may be some time before we get our first glimpse of LaVine in a Bulls jersey, don’t be surprised to see him pick up where he left off with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

6. SG Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
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2017-18 Salary: $3,355,320

If the Denver Nuggets are going to make a serious run in the West this season, Jamal Murray will need to play a major role in doing so. The young guard has been lighting it up this preseason, showing significant improvement on both sides of the court. Now sporting some defensive chops and his ever-present shooting prowess, I’d expect a breakout season for Murray that will lead to a max deal somewhere down the road.

5. C Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
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2017-18 Salary: $2,334,520

One of the most underrated big men in the NBA, Clint Capela is a star in his own right. More often than not, he gets overlooked on an outstanding Houston Rockets team — and that’ll continue to be the case after all of this club’s offseason moves. In the end, though, the Rockets will have no choice but to pay their exciting young center. As his game develops, we’ll see him emerge as one of the league’s best.

4. C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
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2017-18 Salary: $2,569,920

With Paul George out of the picture, this is Myles Turner’s team. As we’ve seen through his first two seasons in the NBA, there’s no lack of upside in the athletic center. The Indiana Pacers may have fallen out of favor in the East, but the future isn’t completely bleak with Turner running the show. Expect a big uptick in explosive plays this year, and call for a massive extension for the former first-round pick.

3. SG Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
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2017-18 Salary: $2,319,360

One of the NBA’s most intriguing rising stars, Devin Booker has to have the Suns excited about what the future holds for this franchise. After what we saw during his 70-point performance, it appears we’re finally ready to see him the 20-year-old wing unlock his full potential. Especially after Phoenix upgraded his supporting cast this offseason, look for Booker to take another step forward in 2017-18.

2. PF Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
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2017-18 Salary: $4,503,600

This is going to change very soon, especially with Carmelo Anthony now out of town. Kristaps Porzingis is the face of the New York Knicks now, and will demand to be paid as such sooner rather than later. For now, though, he’s one of the top discounts in the NBA right now. Barring a collapse in 2017-18, Porzingis will be signing a max contract before the 2018 offseason gets under way.

1. C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
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2017-18 Salary: $1,417,382

This isn’t going to last long, but Nikola Jokic is one of the biggest discounts throughout the entire NBA. He’s quickly emerged as one of the league’s premier big men, using his size and vision to overwhelm opponents with his passing chops. Then, there is the whole part about him being a pretty great defender and capable scorer as well. At 22 years of age, there are a few huge paydays in his future.