Top WNBA Salaries vs. NBA Salaries: Who Earns More? [2017 Update]

WNBA Salaries

It’s no secret that the basketball players in the WNBA are grossly underpaid when compared to their male counterparts in the NBA, despite the fact that they are essentially doing the same job. Even the most skilled WNBA player makes just a fraction of what an NBA player who is benched a majority of the season may earn.

For example, NBA 2016 MVP Stephen Curry made a whopping $11.4 million last season. Meanwhile, Nneka Ogwumike, the reigning WNBA MVP, who is one of the highest paid WNBA players, earned a mere $95,000 in 2016—the maximum salary in the league.


Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)


While all ballers dream of one day playing professionally, the average WNBA rookie can expect to earn a disappointing $36,500 for the year, and WNBA players with at least three years of experience earn a minimum of $55,000 per year. Overall, the average WNBA player is paid around $72,000.

The best players in the league are granted small bonuses for their hard work. According to the Altius Directory:

  • The bonus for winning a WNBA championship is $10,500.
  • The bonus for being a runner-up on WNBA team is $5,250.
  • Players that are named as “MVPs” earn a $15,000 bonus.
  • Players that are named “Rookie of the Year”earn a $5,000 bonus.
  • Players that are members of the All-WNBA First Team each get a $10,000 bonus.
  • Players that participate in the All-Star game get a $2,500 bonus.

In comparison, the top five highest NBA players in the 2016-2017 season took home over $100 million, collectively. According to, LeBron James earned $30,963,45, and Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, and Russell Westbrook each made $26,540,100, according to data from

Although WNBA salaries have increased slightly in the past few years, the wage gap between male and female players is still alarming.

A significant portion of a previously published BLACK ENTERPRISE article from 2012, which addresses this disparity, still remains true:

In 2011, some NBA players found themselves having to leave the country to find work during the NBA Lockout. While that was a temporary situation for them, it’s an every-year reality for even the most popular, highest paid WNBA player. Players like Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings, and Diana Taurasi, who—by the way—all have top-10, best-selling jerseys, still play overseas during the off-season to keep money coming in. In fact, some actually make more over there than they do playing for the WNBA. A top player can earn over $500,000 playing for seven months. But, this also means that they are playing basketball year-round, with no breaks.


While WNBA players may never achieve salaries that will make their male counterparts jealous, they may someday reach a level where their salaries exceed anything you can find on

Until WNBA players are able to earn more money for playing professional basketball, we can continue to expect more top female athletes to subsidize their incomes by playing overseas during the off-season, which can reportedly pay up to 15 times more than the salaries offered by the WNBA.


Add This to the Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Worrying About Money

worrying about money

Pregnant women already have plenty of anxieties to keep them up at night: how will the delivery go, will they be a good mother. But new research is showing that they’re also worrying about money—and that it’s having an adverse effect on their baby’s health.

worrying about money Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that pregnant women who were stressed about finances were more likely to deliver babies of low birth weight


The study, which tracked 138 racially diverse women over the course of two years, found a correlation between stressing out when you’re expecting and delivering a baby with a lower birth weight.

Low birth weight, defined as below 5 pounds and 8 ounces, often results in health problems and can lead to weeks spent in intensive care post-delivery. It’s also been linked to health issues later in life, such as respiratory and digestive problems and a higher risk for heart disease and obesity.

“To gauge their level of financial strain, we asked pregnant women questions about how difficult it would be to live on their annual household income in the coming weeks,” said Amanda Mitchell, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in a press release. “We found that the more stress a woman reported, the greater the likelihood that she would have a baby of low birth weight.”

Some of the financial-related stress included concerns about working after the baby was born, the costs of healthcare and housing, and what overall effect the baby would have on their standard of living.

The study also showed that having more money didn’t equal worrying about money less. “We found that high stress levels were present across all income levels,” said Lisa Christian, principal investigator of the study, in a press release. “It wasn’t just how much money someone had available that was driving this effect. It was actually the perception of her ability to meet her expenses.”

The study’s authors suggest that pregnant women seek help to deal with their stress, or try stress-reduction techniques such as meditation.

But they also stress—pun intended—the value of financial planning when it comes to quieting your money worries.  “There is no reason to worry about things that are out of your control,” Christian said. “Instead, prepare for what you can change and create a financial plan.