The NBA’s Development League, also known as the G-League, was designed as a pipeline to the NBA; a domestic professional basketball league where players could evolve and expand their skillsets playing against near-NBA talent in hopes of making an NBA roster.
The G-League was founded in 2001 and was referred to as the D-League before changing the single-letter designation ya few years ago. More than two decades later, the league has grown to 28 teams across different regions of North America. The league’s composition is made up of players at every level: NCAA stand outs, international prospects and former NBA players trying to make it back into the league.
How Much Money Do G-League Players Make?
Most players playing in the G-League never make it to the next level. That means they don’t ever get a piece of that NBA money, but G-Leaguers do get paid. The vast majority of players sign a standard contract governing their salary and how much they will and can make for the season.
A typical NBA G-League player’s annual contract includes their season’s salary, insurance, and other expenses related to their job. For the 2022-23 season, every G-League player will make a minimum salary of $40,500 for 50 regular season games that spans 5-6 months of the year from October to March.
- $40,500 basic rate
- health insurance
- accommodation expenses
Sources: For the first time, NBA G League salaries will now be over $40,000 per player ($40,500), up from $37,000. Since forming a union in 2020, G League salaries have increased by over $5,000.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 2, 2022
Like the NBA, players who manage to meet specific numbers or earn accolades can be rewarded financially with incentives built into their contract. The most obvious benefit is being called up to the NBA and the invaluable experience of playing in the league. That said there are financial benefits to staying in the G-League. According to Hoop Rumors:
Some players also receive bonuses from their Exhibit 10 contracts, which reward them up to $50K if they spend at least 60 days with their team’s G League affiliate. Theoretically, a player could earn $87K when taking into account his Exhibit 10 bonus (if the full $50K is included) and G League salary.
As with any industry, the most highly-coveted prospects can demand much more than the $40,500 that “normal” G-League players receive.
Before playing for the Houston Rockets, top prospect Jalen Green signed a Select Contract with the G-League that paid him over $500,000 to forgo the NCAA in favor of joining the G-League Ignite. More recently Scoot Henderson signed a two-year $1 million contract.
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G-League Salary By Year
From Standard Contracts to Select Contracts to Two-Way Players (formerly 10-Day Contracts), there are a handful of different contracts offered by the G-League and it all depends on the player’s performance (or expected performance). For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the Standard Contract that over 90% of players receives and we’ll be calculating them for the season. Here’s the NBA G-League salaries for standard contracts from the last 16 seasons
|2006-07||$12,000 – $24,000||Almost-NBA Players Take Home Paltry Salaries (NPR)|
|2010-11||$15,000 – $25,000||Queen of the D-League (New Yorker)|
|2011-12||$15,000 – $25,000||D-League has another high-flying Griffin (SFGate)|
|2014-15||$13,000 – $25,500||The 14 things to know for D-League tipoff (ESPN)|
|2015-16||$13,000 – $25,500|
|2016-17||$19,500 – $26,000||NBA D-League changes salary structure in 2016/17 (FanSided)|
|2017-18||$19,500 – $26,000|
|2018-19||$35,000||G League Announces Player Salaries For 2018-19 (NBA.com)|
|2021-22||$37,000||Shams Charania (Twitter)|
|2022-23||$40,500||Shams Charania (Twitter)|
As you can see, players have seen their pay increase twice as in many seasons. In 2021-22 season, G-Leaguers earned a basic salary of $37,000 which was a $2K pay increase over the $35,000 they earned the previous season (2020-21). These pay increases are in large part thanks to the players unionizing back in 2021 when 80% of the players voted to unionize.
Can Players Make a Living in the G-League?
Back when the G-League started out in 2001 – it was unlikely a G-League player could independently live on the salary they were paid. However with the recent unionization and improvements in pay and conditions, G-League players on a Standard Contract can now certainly live on their salary as long as they plan out a budget and live within the numbers.
Though the $40,500 base salary earned by G-League players is below the annual mean wage of $58,260 among all employed workers in the United States, it’s still a significant amount of money considering that G-League players play for half the year. A six month commitment means that G-Leaguers have ample opportunity to supplement their income during the April-September offseason.
This can mean working with their Alma Mater, playing overseas, holding summer camps, or simply getting a seasonal job to help keep things moving.
Not only that, G-Leaguers are provided with housing during the season which is the costliest life expense for most Americans. With their apartment and hotel costs covered throughout the season, players can bank that 30% of their pay that most Americans spend on monthly rent/mortgage.
The G-League also provides health insurance benefits as well as daily stipends during the season.
These per diems are given to players when their on road trips so they can buy groceries, food and other necessities that they’re used to at home. These per diems are pretty generous. For example, NBA players are given approximately $150 a day when traveling we imagine that G-Leaguers must receive somewhere between $60-100 per diems. The great thing about per diems is whatever is left over is pocketed by that player/whatever they buy they can keep.
As the G-League becomes more visible, popular and consistently supplies the NBA with talent, we can expect the G-League to not only bring in more money from the NBA, but establish more partnerships and sponsorships. When that happens, it can then not only to be a path for NBA hopefuls, but a comfortable way to earn a living.
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