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Although many top basketball players in America will have their sights set on playing in the NBA, a lot of players are considering employment options overseas. So how much do professional basketball players make in overseas basketball leagues?
- Australia: $120 000 and $150 000
- Greece: $60 000 and $250 000
- France: $80 000 and $200 000
- Italy: $80 000 and $350 000
- Spain: $250 000 and $500 000
- Russia: $200 000 and $400 000
- Germany: 100 000 and $350 000
- Turkey: $250 000 and $500 000
- China: $1 million and $5 million
To better understand the salaries, benefits, and opportunities of playing basketball in overseas leagues, we will explore the salary expectations and statistics of the most popular leagues outside the United States of America below:
Australian National Basketball League Salaries
While a geographically isolated league, the Australian National Basketball League is growing in popularity and features nine teams across Australia and one team from New Zealand (the NZ Breakers.)
A league is an attractive option for overseas players, as the average salary for overseas players for the 2019-2020 season was between $120 000 and $250 000 a season (which is approximately $15 000 to over $145 000 more than the average local player!)
However, competition is fierce, with the teams having an overseas player cap of only two overseas players a season!
Greek A1 Basketball League Salaries
Comprising twelve teams, including Euro League competitors Olympiacos (see below for more details), Greece has a thriving basketball community and professional scene despite its small size.
While some of the smaller teams have lower budgets at between $500 000 and $1.5 million a season, the larger teams have budgets above $10 million! Therefore, there can be a substantial difference in earnings depending on the team a player joins.
Consequently, the average salary for starting players is between $60 000 and $250 000 a season, while some top-performing players have secured contracts above $2 million a season!
LNB Pro A Salaries
While better known for their lucrative soccer and rugby salaries, there is a growing interest in basketball in France, with the LNB Pro A consisting of eighteen teams from across the country.
The lowest budget sits at $1.2 million, while larger teams like ASVEL regularly secure budgets above $10 million.
The average salaries for starting players in the LNB PRO A series are between $80 000 and $200 000 a season.
Lega Basket Serie A Salaries
Like France, Italy is better known for attracting overseas talent with lucrative contracts for their rugby and football clubs; however, the Lega Basket Serie A is a professional league that has seen an influx of overseas basketball players in recent years.
Lega Basket Serie A features 17 teams, with Olimpia Milano comfortably setting the highest budget with an impressive $28 million salary cap, while smaller teams typically pose figures of approximately $1.3 million.
The average salaries for starting players in the Lega Basket Serie A are between $80 000 and $350 000 a season.
Liga ACB Salaries
Although Spanish soccer teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona may be household names, many sports fans may be surprised to hear that these club brands (along with Kirolbet Baskonia) have successful basketball teams that also compete in the EuroLeague.
While FC Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have the highest budgets at over $40 million, the other sixteen teams in Liga ACB have respectable budgets, with the lowest budgets sitting at between $3 million and $5 million.
The average salaries for starting players in the Liga ACB are between $250 000 and $500 000 a season.
VTB United League Salaries
Although recent events may make it difficult for overseas athletes to secure contracts in Russia, the VTB United League has been an attractive option for many years for overseas players looking to extend their basketball careers in a foreign country.
While the team features thirteen leagues, the teams based in the capital city of Moscow (CSKA Moscow and Khimki Moscow) are favored by overseas players for their prestigious history and high budgets of $40 million and $30 million, respectively.
The average salaries for starting players in the VTB United League are between $200 000 and $400 000 a season.
German Basketball Bundesliga Salaries
Sharing the Bundesliga name with the better-known German soccer league, the German Basketball Bundesliga also features teams that share names with their better-known soccer club brands (like Bayern Munich, which has the highest budget at $25 million.)
While Bayern Munich may have the highest budget, there are a few teams that have budgets in excess of $10 million, while smaller teams typically post budgets between $ 1 million and $ 3 million.
The average salaries for starting players in the German Basketball Bundesliga are between $100 000 and $350 000 a season.
Turkish Basketball Super League Salaries
As one of the most popular sports in the country, the Turkish Basketball Super League has sixteen teams, many of which have budgets above $10 million, making it one of the best countries for overseas players to secure a comfortable salary!
In contrast, smaller teams have budgets between $3 million and $5 million.
The average salaries for starting players in the Turkish Basketball Super League are between $250 000 and $500 000 a season.
The EuroLeague is an annual competition that features the best and wealthiest teams from countries across Europe.
Consequently, overseas looking to play in Europe will likely want to secure a contract with a team that competes in the EuroLeague, as it is one of the most prestigious basketball competitions in the world with high salaries, high standards of play, and opportunities for sponsorship deals.
The average salaries for starting players in the EuroLeague are between $400 000 and $1 million a season.
Chinese Basketball Association Salaries
Finally, and looking outside Europe, is the Chinese Basketball Association. Basketball is a growing sport in China, with the NBA accrediting a significant portion of its broadcasting revenue to China over the last decade.
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Basketball Association has some of the best salaries on offer for overseas players, with salary caps for top players sitting at approximately $5 million (this is five times the salary cap for Chinese players!)
In conclusion, while overseas basketball leagues can seldom match the salaries of the NBA, they are a viable route for basketball players looking for alternative forms of income!