How Much Do Overseas Basketball Players Make?

Every basketball player’s ultimate dream is to make it to the NBA. They may wonder just how much do overseas basketball players make?

While the prestige and the insane amount of money are more than enough motivation to make it to the big league, for some, playing in the same league their childhood idols played in is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to make that dream a reality. Even the best college prospects like Jimmer Fredette, Greg Oden, and Josh Childress, all first-round draft picks, didn’t thrive in the NBA.

how much do overseas basketball players make?

Sure, they were able to play for a few years, but their potential should have given them several more seasons like current superstars LeBron James or Kevin Durant. We haven’t even mentioned players who were actually drafted but never got to play a single game.

This is the sad reality a lot of basketball players face. Fortunately, other leagues from overseas have become a viable option, giving these talented individuals another venue where they can play professional basketball.

How much do overseas basketball players make in Europe?

Europe has become an attractive destination to a lot of basketball players, particularly because of the potential to earn big money while playing the game they love.

There’s more to it than just income, though. One of the benefits of playing overseas is that you don’t get to pay taxes on your income because it’s usually the team that shoulders it.

The EuroLeague is also considered to be the highest-paying overseas basketball league. The average European basketball salary, for example, is estimated at around $65K to $100K per season. If you’re considered one of the best, much like Nicola Mirotic or Shane Larkin, you can earn up to $5 million per season. 

The level of competition is also another factor because you get to play against some of the best international competition has to offer at a young age. The best example of which is Luka Doncic, who is now considered one of the NBA’s best.

The European brand of play is also more team-oriented compared to the more showtime and individual style of play in the NBA.  

How much do basketball players make in China? 

Next to the Euroleague, China has also become a popular destination for professional basketball players.  

In fact, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has become home to Stephon Marbury, considered as one of the NBA’s best point guards back in the early 2000s, along with the likes of Allen Iverson. Other notable names are Brandon Bass, Tyler Hansbrough, and Ty Lawson.

Basketball is very popular in China, which makes it no surprise for the CBA to have a fan base of 450 million, the biggest among professional leagues around the world. This popularity makes it possible for CBA teams to pay their players big money, particularly their foreign imports.

A local player can earn no more than $937,800 per year, while foreign players earn an average income of $1 million per year. Those with bigger names or who have superstar status can earn up to $3 million per year, tax-free (the teams pay for it).

This is probably the reason why Stephon Marbury decided to spend the rest of his career in the CBA until his retirement in 2018. In 2010, he turned down a $1.3 million contract from the Boston Celtics to play for the Beijing Ducks for $2 million a year.

Each CBA team is only allowed a maximum of two foreign imports, though, both of which are expected to score more than 30 points which means lots of touches and pressure at the same time.

How much do German professional basketball players make?

Germany’s German Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) is another overseas league that pays its players handsomely. They have 18 teams in their fold, all of them pushing $10 million budgets with the Bayern Munich team having the biggest budget at 25 million USD.

The average German BBL salary for imports is between $100K to $350K per season, while superstars like NBA first-round pick Greg Monroe can earn close to a million dollars per season.

Another notable name who played in the BBL is former US NCAA assist leader and NBA draftee Jared Jordan who lead the league in assists back in 2017.

While basketball is considered popular in Germany, soccer is still the country’s top sport spectator-wise.

How much does a basketball player make in Italy?

Italy offers some of the most lucrative basketball contracts, making it one of the top-ranking leagues worldwide.

This comes as no surprise given the reputation its elite players have earned not just in the NBA but in various European competitions as well.

Its most popular league, the Italian Lega Basket Serie A Salaries (Serie A), comprises 17 teams, each offering average import salaries ranging from $180K to $350K per year.  

Considered one of the oldest professional basketball leagues in Europe, the clubs can offer bigger salaries for superstar status players such as the Phoenix Suns’ 2006 first-round pick Sergio Rodriguez who is the league’s highest-paid player with an income of $2 million per year.

Other notable names playing in Serie A are Milos Teodosic, Austin Daye, and Luis Scola. NBA Coach Mike D’Antoni is considered a Serie A legend with one of its clubs, Olimpia Milano, retiring his number 8 jersey back in 2015.

How much can a basketball player earn by playing in Russia?

Russia is another popular destination among professional basketball players, particularly because it is up there with Spain as some of the highest-paying basketball leagues.

The country’s premier league, the VTB United, pays basketball players an average of $200K to $400K per year, which can go up to a maximum of $4 Million per year depending on the player’s status.

In fact, some of today’s highest-paid players in Europe come from Russia, with Nikola Milutinov, Mike James, and Alexey Shved all earning a very generous $2.5M per year. It’s worth noting that just recently, Mike James was hired by the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent while Shved, who’s been a household name in Russia, played in the NBA for three years before returning to Russia.

Given their stature, it comes as no surprise why they earn that big of a salary.

How much does a basketball player make in Australia?

Not to be outdone, the land down under also has its own professional basketball league called the National Basketball League or NBL.

While not as popular as some of Europe’s top basketball leagues, Australia and New Zealand’s very own basketball league is slowly becoming an attractive destination for international basketball players, particularly because they speak the same language.

There are rules, however, when signing up foreign players. For one, every NBL team is only allowed to sign three players born outside of Australia and New Zealand. As of the moment, most American basketball players make somewhere between $60,000 to $100,000 per year. If you’re a bigger-name player, you can definitely earn more.

The minimum wage for a roster player is set at $40,000, while a developmental player playing for the first time can earn a minimum of $12,000. Apart from the monetary aspect, NBL teams provide their players’ additional benefits like health insurance as well as access to a variety of programs that cover career transition, mental health, and education, among others.

Some of the popular ex-NBA players who’ve played in the NBL are Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, and Australia’s very own, Joe Ingles.

How much do basketball players earn in Turkey?

Last on our list of popular basketball destinations is Turkey’s Basketball Super League or BSL.  

Like other international basketball leagues, BSL also has specific rules when it comes to signing foreign players. One such rule is that every team can sign a maximum of 8 foreign players and play 6 of them in every game.

Foreign players in the BSL can earn as much as $250,000 to $450,000 and even go above $1 million depending on the player’s stature. American-Turkish basketball player Shane Larkin, who played for the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks, is considered the league’s highest-paid player.  

Larkin played for Anadolu Efes, where he got paid a salary of $2.6 million tax-free. Aaron Harrison, who played for the Charlotte Hornets from 2015 to 2017 and for the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, is also another popular name in the BSL. He is paid a salary of $2.5 million per year.

Final Thoughts

While the thought of not making it to the NBA can be a painful experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world for aspiring basketball superstars.  

With overseas leagues such as the ones mentioned offering competitive salaries and an opportunity to play the game they love, future basketball heroes now have a venue to show what they can do and make money doing it.

These overseas leagues may not be NBA-caliber, but sometimes, all you need is a stage to showcase your talent for you to get noticed. Playing in these leagues will not only help you earn a living, but it can also serve as a ticket to an NBA return.

The possibilities are endless.