This week, No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett finally signed his rookie-scale contract with the Cavaliers. Barring a significant surprise, he'll make the standard 120% of his scale amount, so his salary will undoubtedly be $5,324,280, as our salary chart for first-round picks shows.
That's a far cry from what a No. 1 pick can earn on his second contract. Blake Griffin is entering the first season of a maximum-salary extension this year, a deal made even more lucrative when Griffin met the Derrick Rose Rule criteria for a higher max. The money gets better still when a No. 1 pick hits unrestricted free agency for the first time, as Dwight Howard's new four-year $87,591,270 max deal demonstrates.
Not every No. 1 overall pick fulfills his promise, of course, but even players who become serviceable, if not superstars, can earn eight-figure salaries, like Andrew Bogut and Andrea Bargnani. Of course, few top picks have ever panned out as poorly as Greg Oden, who's managed to play only the equivalent of one season since the Trail Blazers picked him first in 2007. Unless he suffers yet another injury, he'll be back on the court this season with the Heat, but only at the minimum salary.
Kenyon Martin will make the minimum this year, too, but part of that has to do with his advanced age. At 35, he's not the player he once was. K-Mart doesn't engender much sympathy when compared to Tim Duncan, however. Duncan is two years older and in the midst of a three-year, $30MM contract he signed last summer.
At least Martin is still playing. Michael Olowokandi and Yao Ming, No. 1 picks who entered the league after Duncan did, saw their careers come to premature ends. Allen Iverson, the No. 1 pick a year before the Spurs drafted Duncan, finally appears ready to give up the ghost, as he's reportedly set to announce his retirement, more than three years since his last NBA game.
It's been an active summer for No. 1 overall picks on the market, as Davis, Oden, Howard, Martin and Elton Brand have all signed new deals. John Wall signed a maximum-salary extension that will kick in for 2014/15, and the Raptors traded Andrea Bargnani, their top pick seven years ago, to the Knicks.
Here's every No. 1 overall pick since 1996, along with their 2013/14 salaries:
- 2013: Anthony Bennett, $5,324,280
- 2012: Anthony Davis, $5,375,760
- 2011: Kyrie Irving, $5,607,240
- 2010: John Wall, $7,459,925
- 2009: Blake Griffin, $16,441,500
- 2008: Derrick Rose, $17,632,688
- 2007: Greg Oden, $1,027,424
- 2006: Andrea Bargnani, $11,862,500
- 2005: Andrew Bogut, $14,000,000
- 2004: Dwight Howard, $20,513,178
- 2003: LeBron James, $19,067,500
- 2002: Yao Ming, $0 — Retired in 2011.
- 2001: Kwame Brown, $2,945,901
- 2000: Kenyon Martin, $1,399,507
- 1999: Elton Brand, $4,000,000
- 1998: Michael Olowokandi, $0 — Hasn't played since 2006/07 season
- 1997: Tim Duncan, $10,361,446
- 1996: Allen Iverson, $0 — Will reportedly announce retirement soon.
ShamSports was used in the creation of this post.