As the 2023–24 NBA season starts, a group of small forwards will be in charge of both the game and the money, thanks to their massive contracts. Looking at the ten highest-paid small forwards of the season, this in-depth piece delves into the economics of professional basketball.
This might be the most important position in the game, but small players still need to score goals, play defense, and bring all-around skills. Professional basketball makes it hard to find big and skilled players. That’s why ten small centers have won the Finals MVP award since 2007-08.
Today, we’ll talk about the NBA’s highest-paid small forwards. Last week, we looked at the highest-paid shooting guards. Others are worth their money because they are the most impactful players in the league, even though some of them aren’t quite celebrities. When the 2023–24 season starts, these 10 NBA small forwards will make the most money.
10. Khris Middleton - $28,703,704
Khris Middleton missed many games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season, only playing in 33 games. Because Middleton is such a great scorer and wing defender right now, Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates missed him.
Middleton will make more than $28 million in 2024, and he deserves it because he helped Giannis win the title in 2021. So that the money he’s getting is worth it, Khris needs to get back to being an All-Star. He must score at least 20 points per game and make more than 37% of his three-point shots.
9. Gordon Hayward - $31,500,000
It’s wild that Gordon Hayward keeps making so much money even though his skills are getting worse and he is getting older. Hayward is 33 years old but looks like a player at least three years older. Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets signed him to a max contract in 2020.
Hayward played in 50 games last season but only scored 14.7 points per game. The Charlotte Hornets probably don’t want to keep Hayward for a long time, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens with him. Still, Hayward will make more than $30 million next year.
8. Jayson Tatum - $32,600,060
The Boston Celtics‘ star, Jayson Tatum, could be one of the best players in the world. Tatum, a 25-year-old star and one of the best offensive players in the world, can expect supermax money for the next ten years, and the Celtics have to give it to him. Good news for Tatum: he will make more money now.
With a $32.6 million pay, he will be the eighth highest-paid small forward in 2024. He will play in the frontcourt with Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford.
In the 2021–22 season, when the Celtics made it to the NBA Finals, Tatum showed that he was a great scorer and the best player on a winning team. Before losing to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were almost back in the Finals.
7. Michael Porter Jr - $33,386,850
When the Denver Nuggets gave Michael Porter Jr. the most money possible, it was clear that they knew what they were doing. The skilled swingman fell to the 14th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft because of worries about his back. It was a great move by the Nuggets to take him right away.
Porter Jr. took the Nuggets’ chances to win the NBA title to a new level. He was also the third-best player on the team when it came to creating shots and making them. Porter Jr. scored 17.4 points per game last year, and even though he had some trouble from deep in the playoffs, he made Denver’s attack very dangerous.
6. Brandon Ingram - $33,833,400
Brandon Ingram is one of the few NBA players under 26 who has yet to come close to reaching his full ability. If you compare Ingram to Kevin Durant in scoring skills and making plays, you’ll notice that he is only sometimes the New Orleans Pelicans‘ best player.
Brandon Ingram has been open about how hard things have been for him, even during the Olympics. These mistakes must be fixed immediately because they keep the player from becoming truly great. Finally, the 2020 All-Star had a great season last year. He is now 25 years old, but the seventh-highest-paid small forward in the game still has a long way to go.
5. Tobias Harris - $39,270,150
As we head into next season, Tobias Harris is the fifth best-paid small forward in the NBA. Harris is the league’s most overpaid player right now. He’s a good starter for the Philadelphia 76ers but not worth the money he’s getting paid. Because of this, the Sixers have been trying to move him for a few years.
You can’t blame Harris because he is trying his best to do well. As the third or fourth choice in 2023, after Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey, the swingman scored 14.7 points, grabbed 5.7 rebounds, and made 38.9% of his three-point shots. You can’t make Harris feel bad about himself because he is good enough to start in the NBA and will make close to $40 million next year.
4. Klay Thompson - $43,219,440
Klay Thompson makes much money, so the Golden State Warriors want to work out a deal to bring him back. It’s not like Klay was an All-NBA two-way player a few seasons ago. He might not be worth the money he is getting paid.
But just having Thompson on the court makes the Warriors a better team because they can run after Stephen Curry without leaving Thompson, which makes the attack run as smoothly as possible. The Splash Brother is an icon in the Golden State. He is making over $43 million this season, but that could be the last time he gets that much money.
3. Jimmy Butler - $45,183,960
Jimmy Butler is one of the best small forwards in the game when he’s fit and playing at his best. In the playoffs, he turns into a real machine. Because Butler has been so good lately, Miami Heat has made it to the NBA Finals twice, even though they had a weak team. Butler had always done an excellent job, though.
Jimmy is paid the most because he becomes a superstar in the playoffs and sets an example for the other players, even though he is an All-Star during the regular season. As the 2024 season gets closer, Butler hopes that Miami can get a superstar to help them fight for the title.
2. Kawhi Leonard - $45,640,084
Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been fit since moving to Los Angeles Clippers and has yet to play in more than 60 games in four straight seasons. The Clippers have had no chance of making the NBA Finals or winning a title without Leonard being healthy. Although, Leonard is an absolute superstar when he’s fit.
Kawhi played in just 52 games last year but scored 23.8 points each time. Leonard’s defense has gotten worse over the previous few seasons because he has been hurt so much, but if he can stay fit, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner deserves more than $45 million.
1. LeBron James - $47,607,350
Going into next season, LeBron James will be the highest-paid small forward because he will start for the Los Angeles Lakers. There is still no one better than The King at his position in the world, and as long as he doesn’t get much worse, no other small forward will have as much of an effect on the game.
The Lakers make a lot of money because of LeBron James, not just because of what he does on the court. The stadium seats are always sold out, shirts are always full off the court, and he gets the media attention businesses need. There’s no question that LeBron is the face of the league, and that will only change once he retires. The attention can hurt the team’s performance, but this will never stop.
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