The most overpaid NBA players of 2023-24 (so far)

If there’s one thing the casual NBA fan knows about the modern NBA, it’s that the league’s current generation of players is getting paid quite handsomely.

That does lead to some unfair, over-the-top criticism of current NBA players and the league’s health at large… and we’re going to add to that discourse today (sorry!) by taking a look at the most overpaid NBA players of the 2023-24 season.

To do so, we’re using our Real Value metric, which uses Global Rating (learn about our player-rating metric here) to determine how much each NBA player should be earning, salary-wise, based on their raw statistics, games played and team success. Once we had each player’s Real Value, we compared that number to their actual salaries to determine who the most overpaid NBA players of 2023-24 are in a fair manner.

Find the results below.

Bradley Beal (Phoenix)

Nick Cammett/Getty Images
Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Salary: $46,741,590
Real Value: $12,674,590

Difference: -$34,067,000

Between missing time due to injury and assimilating to a new role alongside two high-usage superstars, Phoenix Suns star Bradley Beal has disappointed this season, though even we were surprised to learn the extent to which our Real Value stat believes he has disappointed.

According to our metric, Beal, who is averaging 17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 49.9 percent shooting this season, has been worth $12.7 million in 2023-24. In actuality, the former Gators star is getting paid $46.7 million, meaning Real Value believes Beal has been overpaid by $34.1 million, making him the most overpaid healthy player in the league this year. The only players with higher negative disparities between their Real Value and actual salaries this season, Ben Simmons and Zach LaVine, have played a combined 40 games.

Even more concerning for Phoenix is that Beal, who owns a no-trade clause on his contract, is just in the second year of his monster deal, which will see him get paid $57.1 million in 2026-27, his age-33 season. If Real Value believes Beal is underperforming this much in 2023-24, what’s that number going to look like when he has another couple of seasons of wear and tear on his body?

For Bradley Beal’s contract and salary info, click here.

Klay Thompson (Golden State)

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $43,219,440
Real Value: $16,984,292

Difference: -$26,235,148

An NBA legend nearing the end of his prime, Golden State Warriors 2-guard Klay Thompson was benched this season before rejoining the starting lineup as head coach Steve Kerr looks for a way to improve Thompson’s nightly impact.

The benching did help some, as the former Washington State standout has averaged 18.5 points on 41.8 percent shooting from three over his past 20 appearances (six starts), a stretch in which Golden State has gone 12-8.

Still, there’s no question Thompson has underperformed on the campaign as a whole, at a rough time, too, considering he’s about to hit unrestricted free agency this summer. According to Real Value, Thompson’s output has been worth $17.0 million while he’s actually owed $43.2 million, a negative disparity of $26.2 million.

No longer the same player he once was after multiple major leg injuries, Thompson should still garner interest on the free-agent market this offseason, it’s just doubtful that his next contract will have an annual average value anywhere near his current deal.

For Klay Thompson’s contract and salary info, click here.

Gordon Hayward (Oklahoma City)

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $31,500,000
Real Value: $5,444,580

Difference: -$26,055,420

Through no fault of his own, one-time All-Star Gordon Hayward has consistently been one of the most overpaid players in the league over recent years.

Hayward is averaging 10.3 points and 3.8 rebounds on 45.5 percent shooting this season but just 4.5 points and 2.6 rebounds since joining the Oklahoma City Thunder 18 games ago. Even worse, when Hayward has been on the floor, the Thunder have been 13.5 points per 100 possessions worse than when he’s been on the bench, though an acclimation process with him joining a contender was to be expected.

Hayward has been putting up those numbers while earning $31.5 million in 2023-24, a campaign in which Real Value has his output worth $5.4 million.

Needless to say, Hayward has been greatly underperforming that salary. However, his impact could be greater felt come playoff time when his veteran savvy could help a young Thunder team that’s looking to make a deep postseason run.

For Gordon Hayward’s contract and salary info, click here.

Chris Paul (Golden State)

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Salary: $30,800,000
Real Value: $8,523,874

Difference: -$22,276,126

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the Warriors are just barely clinging to Play-In Tournament positioning when they have two of the biggest underperformers, based on salary, in the league on their roster. The first was Thompson but his backcourt mate off the bench, Chris Paul, has likewise had a disappointing season.

Paul is averaging just 9.1 points and 6.9 assists, both career-low marks, this season while shooting 43.8 percent from the floor. Real Value tabs that output worth roughly $8.5 million when, in reality, Paul is earning $30.8 million in 2023-24 for a $22.3 million overpay by the Warriors.

The playoffs could be a time when Paul steps up his output but his game, predicated on pick-and-roll with dynamic big men – Golden State doesn’t have any of those – just hasn’t been the most seamless fit with the Warriors.

Who knows, though? Maybe Paul has a big close-out performance or two up his sleeve for the postseason. The Warriors just have to get there first.

For Chris Paul’s contract and salary info, click here.

Deandre Ayton (Portland)

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $32,459,438
Real Value: $10,966,876

Difference: -$21,492,562

Between poor sleep due to not having a bed and tardiness/tantrums hindering his early time with the Portland Trail Blazers, former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton has been disappointing in his first season with his new team, especially when many thought having a bigger role on a non-contender could have led to Ayton truly having a breakout campaign.

Unfortunately for Blazers fans that has not been the case, as Ayton is just about the same as he ever was, flashing greatness here and there but not consistently – and not impacting game outcomes anywhere near as much as he could. Ayton is averaging 15.8 points and 11.1 rebounds this season for Portland while shooting 58.0 percent from the floor, solid numbers but nothing we haven’t seen out of him before.

Real Value tabs Ayton’s worth as a player this season at $11.0 million while he’s actually earning $32.5 million, for an overpay of $21.5 million. To his credit, Ayton’s raw numbers are decent enough – and he has a positive swing rating on the season – so it’s clear that his Real Value is greatly affected by Portland’s brutal 19-55 record this campaign. Our Global Rating stat, which Real Value is derived from, does put a lot of stock in team wins which Portland doesn’t have many of, hurting Ayton’s value in the eyes of our metric.

For Deandre Ayton’s contract and salary info, click here.

Khris Middleton (Milwaukee)

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $29,320,988
Real Value: $11,047,661

Difference: -$18,273,327

Be it due to age and injuries or Damian Lillard taking up a huge role on the team, Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton has looked far from his peak self this season, putting up just 14.8 points and 5.3 assists on 48.1 percent shooting. For a role player, those would be great numbers but Middleton is earning All-Star money and underperforming in that respect.

Middleton, earning $29.3 million this season, has a Real Value of $11.1 million, according to our metric, for a negative difference of $18.3 million, making him one of this season’s most overpaid players.

Of course, if the Bucks are able to win a championship this season, no one will care that Middleton hasn’t produced at an All-Star level, and he certainly looks capable of having some big playoff performances this year as long as he’s healthy.

It’s just that to this point, he has shown some concerning signs of regression, and with two years (and $65.7 million) left on his contract at that.

For Khris Middleton’s contract and salary info, click here.

Evan Fournier (Detroit)

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $18,857,143
Real Value: $779,742

Difference: -$18,077,401

After a season-plus of hardly seeing the floor for the New York Knicks, veteran swingman Evan Fournier was finally mercifully traded to the Detroit Pistons, where at least he’s getting regular minutes again.

The 31-year-old isn’t exactly making the most of that playing time, though, as Fournier is averaging just 7.0 points and 1.6 assists on 35.9 percent shooting in 21 appearances for Detroit. Overall, Real Value tabs Fournier’s output this season at worth nearly $800,000, not even the veteran minimum in today’s NBA.

In actuality, Fournier is earning $18.9 million in 2023-24, making him by far one of the most overpaid players of the season. At least most of the other players on this list are producing at above a replacement level. Fournier, on the other hand, has flat-out been one of the worst players in the league when he’s been on the floor.

For Evan Fournier’s contract and salary info, click here.

Jimmy Butler (Miami)

Tim Heitman/Getty Images
Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Salary: $45,183,960
Real Value: $27,587,026

Difference: -$17,596,934

Injuries more easily explain this one, as Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler has already missed more than 20 games this season with a chunk of the campaign still left to go.

Even with all the missed time, Butler has still produced at the level of a player worth $27.6 million, according to Real Value, which is also backed up by a lot of the other popular advanced metrics. Butler, averaging 21.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals this season, ranks seventh league-wide in Win Shares per 48 Minutes and 13th in Box Plus/Minus. When he’s been out there, he’s still an elite two-way player.

Nevertheless, Real Value believes Butler has been overpaid by $17.6 million this year and even if that has been mostly due to missed time, that still makes him one of the NBA’s most overpaid players this campaign.

It’s just become clear that Butler isn’t going to go all out on a nightly basis in the regular season at this point in his career, and who can blame him? Miami lost a Play-In game in 2022-23, was half a quarter away from missing the playoffs entirely, squeaked into the postseason as the eighth seed… and proceeded to reach the NBA Finals, even having the championship series tied at one game apiece through two outings against the eventual champion Denver Nuggets.

That probably sealed Butler ever being a super consistent regular-season player ever again, which may or may not matter depending on how the Heat do in the upcoming 2023-24 playoffs.

For Jimmy Butler’s contract and salary info, click here.

Jordan Poole (Washington)

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $27,955,357
Real Value: $10,984,653

Difference: -$16,970,704

Everyone on social media knows how Washington Wizards guard Jordan Poole has done in his first season with his new team. Things were going so poorly for the former Michigan standout that he even got benched by the Wizards – who are currently 14-59, by the way – for three weeks.

Poole, to his credit, has improved his level recently, averaging 20.9 points and 5.2 assists over his last 15 games on 47.0 percent shooting. Even so, for the season, our Real Value metric values Poole’s production this season at roughly being worth $11.0 million when, in reality, he’s earning $28.0 million for a $17.0 million overpay.

Hopefully for Poole and Wizards fans, the 2022 NBA champion will be able to carry his recent stretch of very solid play into 2024-25. If not, his contract, which only gets more expensive annually until it peaks at $34.5 million in 2026-27, could become an even bigger albatross over the coming campaigns.

For Jordan Poole’s contract and salary info, click here.

Tobias Harris (Philadelphia)

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $39,270,150
Real Value: $22,697,483

Difference: -$16,572,667

The problem with Tobias Harris has never really been about his play but rather how much cap space his salary takes up. Earning over $39.0 million this season, Harris, according to our Real Value metric, has produced at a level worth $22.7 million, meaning he’s been overpaid by $16.6 million by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harris has had a solid season, though, averaging 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds on 48.6 percent shooting while making the Sixers 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he’s been on the floor. He’s just getting paid like an All-Star – he’s Top 20 in salary league-wide for 2023-24 – when he’s more of a very good role player.

Harris is entering unrestricted free agency this summer, so it’ll be interesting to see how teams value his worth heading into his age-32 season. It does seem unlikely his next contract will have the annual average value of his current one.

For Tobias Harris’ contract and salary info, click here.

Davis Bertans (Charlotte)

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Salary: $17,000,000
Real Value: $1,488,502

Difference: -$15,511,498

A minimum-level player earning $17.0 million this season, it’s pretty obvious why our metric considers Davis Bertans to be one of the most overpaid players in the league for 2023-24.

Bertans is averaging 5.9 points on 37.7 percent shooting from three as he approaches the final year of his contract, which is only guaranteed for $5.3 million out of a possible $16.0 million.

We can tell you right now the Charlotte Hornets will almost certainly be waiving Bertans this summer to save themselves money, letting him hit unrestricted free agency this offseason where he can maybe join a contender in need of some bench shooting.

For Davis Bertans’ contract and salary info, click here.

Cam Johnson (Brooklyn)

Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Salary: $25,679,348
Real Value: $10,318,121

Difference: -$15,361,227

After some good moments earlier on in his career as a member of the Phoenix Suns, including a 2021-22 season that saw him earn Sixth Man of the Year votes, Cam Johnson has had a disappointing campaign this year with the Brooklyn Nets, one in which the former Tar Heel has averaged 13.7 points and 4.4 rebounds on 39.7 percent shooting from three, decent numbers but not averages that match his $25.7 million salary.

Another good role player being paid like a borderline star, Johnson’s Real Value is worth $10.3 million, meaning he’s being overpaid by $15.4 million by the Nets this season, per our metric.

What’s worse is that Johnson, who’s already 28, has another three years left on his deal worth $68.8 million. We have a feeling Johnson might find his way on this list again in the future when we look at the most overpaid players of the upcoming years.

For Cam Johnson’s contract and salary info, click here.

Honorable mention (kind of)

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

There are a host of other huge names in the NBA that our Real Value metic believes to be overpaid. We decided to exclude them from the actual rankings because they had very valid excuses for their relatively poor Real Values in 2023-24, most of them being injury.

Reigning MVP Joel Embiid, for example, has been overpaid by $15.6 million this season, per our metric, but that’s obviously because he’s been out since early February with injury. It speaks to how great Embiid is that our metric didn’t consider him to be even more “overpaid”.

Likewise, Stephen Curry has been overpaid by $15.2 million this season but even then, his Real Value is still $36.7 million, which is an elite mark. He’s just earning $51.9 million, so the Warriors’ poor record made his Real Value/actual salary disparity look worse than it really is.

Marcus Smart ($2.3 million Real Value vs. $18.6 million actual salary) and Ben Simmons ($1.7 million Real Value vs. $37.9 million actual salary, making him the most overpaid player in the league this year, per our metric) also have legitimate injury-related reasons for such poor outputs in 2023-24, though that’s nothing new for Simmons.

Here’s hoping the big Australian guard can get healthy because people do tend to forget how great he was in his prime.

Simmons is the league’s most overpaid player this season, per Real Value, but who is second-most overpaid? That would be Zach LaVine, who has been out since mid-January and won’t return until 2024-25. Global Rating, which is where we get Real Value from, is a cumulative stat, so both players’ values were greatly hampered by how much time they missed.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype