Which NBA Stars Earn the Most from Sitting on the Bench?

Updated: 3720 Basketball

It’s no secret that NBA athletes earn a lot of money. And with most NBA squads reaching 15 players, it can often mean that some players spend more time on the bench than they would prefer.

Which NBA Stars Earn the Most from Sitting on the Bench?
Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

It’s no secret that NBA athletes earn a lot of money. And with most NBA squads reaching 15 players, it can often mean that some players spend more time on the bench than they would prefer.

Despite their limited minutes, this doesn’t mean they can spend their time on betting sites or going on holiday. They are still training most days to ensure they’re ready for when they do get their chance.

While it can be frustrating for basketball players who have to sit on the sidelines despite putting the work in during training, their huge salaries soften this blow. 

That’s why we wanted to find out which players are earning the most while keeping the substitute bench warm. We’ve looked into the salaries and the minutes played of each NBA player to find out who earns the most per minute played.

Most Expensive Bench Warmers

most expensive bench warmersWe’ve looked at each NBA player to find out who the most expensive bench warmers were in the 2021-22 season.  

1. Markelle Fultz - $45,833 earnings per minute

The most expensive bench warmer in the NBA is the Orlando Magic’s Markelle Fultz who earned $45,833 per minute on the court. Fultz appeared in 18 games, and totaled 360 minutes, averaging 20 minutes per game. In January 2021, the 24-year-old tore his ACL, which sidelined him for over a year. He eventually returned on the last day of February 2022 against the Indiana Pacers.

2. Brook Lopez - $44,639 earnings per minute

Brook Lopez takes second place earning $44,639 per minute on the court. The Milwaukee Bucks man suffered a back injury on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season. Lopez later had an operation to treat his back injury and didn’t return to the squad until March 2022. 

3. Joe Harris - $41,033 earnings per minute

Completing our top three is the Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris, who earned $41,033 per minute during the 2021-22 season. Harris played 423 minutes across 14 games. However, due to recurring problems with his left ankle, Harris underwent surgery missing the rest of the season. 

The Most Expensive Bench Warmer In Each NBA Team

most expensive Bench Warmer

We’ve looked at each player in each team in the NBA to find out who their most expensive Bench Warmer was in the 2021-22 season.  

1. Udonis Haslem - 83 minutes played

In first place is Udonis Haslem who spent just 83 minutes on the court. The Miami Heat’s center is still going strong at 42 years of age and made 13 appearances throughout the 2021-22 season. Haslem is on a salary of $1.6m which meant he earned a very respectable $20k per minute played.

2. Jake Layman - 231 minutes played

In second place is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jake Layman who played 231 minutes of basketball during the 2021-22 season. Layman was involved in 34 games for the Timberwolves last season but only managed to average 6.8 minutes per game. His salary of just under $4m meant he earned $17k per minute in action.

3. JT Thor - 262 minutes played

Completing our top three is the Charlotte Hornets’ JT Thor, who spent just 262 minutes on the court during the 2021-22 season. Thor made a total of 33 appearances across the season, averaging just under 8 minutes a game. He earned $4,700 for every minute spent on the court. 

Methodology

  • To find out each NBA player’s minutes played, we used Basketball Reference.
  • We then used ESPN to find out each player's salary. 
  • Figures for minutes played reflect the regular season only. 
  • We removed players who were waived mid-season, traded, or on two-way contracts. 
  • We also removed players who played more than 1,000 minutes.
  • Detroit pistons had no players for the most expensive bench warmers for each team.

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