How Much Does a WNBA Basketball Player Make?

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The Women’s National Basketball Association, famously referred to by its acronym the WNBA, got founded in 1996. Its creation officially got approved on April 24, that year, by the NBA Board of Governors, and it began as a twelve-team competition whose initial season debuted in May 1997.

The start of the WNBA occurred on the heels of a much-publicized gold medal win by the US women’s national basketball team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Thus, during this period, optimism was high regarding what this league could do. However, as the years passed, the WNBA struggled to gain the foreshadowed level of popularity in arenas, on TV, and at sports betting sites.

However, following the conclusion of the 2021 season, the WNBA noted that the league’s viewership was up 51% compared to the 2020 regular season and added that this year’s competition was the most viewed one since 2008. Hence, this burst of interest in female basketball has again opened up an ever-simmering topic of discussion that always comes up concerning female basketball. Are the salaries that women athletes get paid to play at one of their sport’s most prestigious stages adequate?

Below, we analyze how much does the market value WNBA players? Who are the top paid athletes in the league? How do their wages compare to their male counterparts, and if WNBA and NBA betting are comparable?

What Is the Average WNBA Salary?

Today, the average yearly wage for a WNBA player is $120,648. In 2019, this figure stood at a base salary of $75,180 per player. The minimum salary per year now stands at $58,710 for a contract that has a time frame of fewer than two years. It is $70,040 for one that features an obligation that bounds a player to be a part of a specific team for more than three.

Due to these low numbers, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi teamed up with USA Basketball two years ago, working on a system that would earn US Olympic squad members $100,000 extra if they trained in the offseason together.

Currently, per statistics, the Atlanta Dream pays the most money in wages out of the twelve WBNA teams, with $1,339,000 of their yearly budget going towards wages. Nevertheless, these funds get distributed to thirteen players, and only $798,700 of these annual expenses are guaranteed salaries. In truth, the Chicago Sky should be the top dog in this league category, as this team pays $1,338,778 in salaries to eleven players and has guaranteed payouts that total $953,375 per year.

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The WNBA’s best player ever, Diana Taurasi, is one of the league’s seven best-paid players.

Who Is the Highest-Paid WNBA Player?

It is interesting to note that the WNBA has a player maximum salary limit of $190,550. But, it also has a super-max cap of $221,450. At the time of writing, only seven players make this amount per year. Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Elena Delle Donne, Liz Cambage, DeWanna Bonner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Brittney Griner.

Do Other Female Leagues Pay Better?

As reviewed above, WNBA players do not make boatloads of cash compared to other professional athletes. That is so, even though the numbers discussed so far are only their base wages. The salary that their team pays them per year. They do not include any bonuses, other incentives, or sponsorship deals. Though, the latter does not yield any substantial funds for top-end players and is a scarcity for the rest.

Now, what many readers may find surprising is that there are non-American female basketball leagues that pay better than the WNBA. Moreover, the WNBA season is pretty short. So, many American women b-ballers look at playing overseas as a necessary part of life in the offseason or moving abroad full-time.

On average, in Europe, a decent female player can make anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 per year. Popular leagues on the Old Continent for women include ones in Turkey, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Russia. The latter is home to the strongest women’s teams in Europe. UMMC Ekaterinburg, and Dynamo Kursk. Top players in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League get paychecks that surpass one million dollars.

The chief reason why these teams can afford to pay such high salaries is that many of the country’s top-end clubs are either owned by oligarchs or get funded by government municipalities. Winning trophies for both of these parties is far more important than profitability. Also, mobile sports betting is massive in Europe, and many hard-core European sports bettors will wager on just about any sport, adding to the popularity of all sporting competitions on this slice of the Earth.

Teams from the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association also have a track record of paying out mid-six-figure deals for four-month-long contracts.

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Stephen Curry is the highest-paid NBA player, making over $45 million per year,

What Do Male Basketball Players Make?

For the 2020-2021 season, the average NBA salary was $7.9 million, rising to $8.25 million for the 2021-2022 season. For perspective-sake, the average NBA salary in 1995 was $1.45 million, and it totaled $0.87 million in 1991.

The current league minimum for salaries falls in the $925,258 to $2.6M annual range, depending on a player’s experience level. NBA rookies get $925,258 per year, while those with ten years or more in the NBA get at least $2.6 million.

The team salary cap now stands at $112.414 million, and the league’s highest-paid player is Stephen Curry. The Golden State Warriors superstar gets paid $45,780,966 per year to play for the San Francisco-based franchise.

Obviously, a mountainous wage gap exists between the NBA and WNBA that will not get evened out anytime soon, or likely ever.

Do People Bet on the WNBA?

Yes, WNBA betting is a thing, an established option at most online sportsbooks for real money. Similar to NBA betting, most veteran bettors like to wager on point spreads. They look to buy low on big underdogs and bet on bad teams coming off a win.

Know that the WNBA is not a heavily-bet market. Consequently, when a line moves, it is likely due to sharp action coming in at a bookmaker. In general, winning underdog bets can be sizeably profitable on WNBA markets because upsets are less likely to occur in this competition than male ones, so the odds on underdog wins are usually higher.

Unfortunately, there is not a ton of sports betting research done on WNBA games. People outside North America rarely explore this option at their chosen sportsbooks, and the same goes for most American bettors.

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