Formed in 1996, the WNBA is the women’s counterpart to the National Basketball Association. Often calling out to the best female basketball players in the world, this league is where some of the best basketball on earth is played. But how much are WNBA players paid? And how can someone become a WNBA player in the first place? Here, we seek to answer those questions.
Average Salary for a WNBA Player – $51,000
Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I didn’t forget an extra zero somewhere. The average WNBA salary is generally near $51,000 with a starting salary closer to $40,000 and a maximum cap of $109,500 per player. This doesn’t count several thousand dollars of bonuses which can be paid out to players (which, if one was to get all of them, would equal roughly $31,000) that are, as one can expect, hard to come by. What is particularly surprising is that most teams have a budget of under $1 Million in total, which is roughly one fifth of the average NBA player’s salary. To further illustrate this gap, let’s take a look at some top earnings. For the WNBA, the highest paid player at the current time, Candace Parker has accrued an estimated $3 Million net worth through her play and through sponsorship deals with big names such as Gatorade and Adidas. On the other hand, the highest NBA earner (just counting game contracts and sponsorships in game) is Shaq, with around $286.3 million in earnings through his career. This means that Shaq alone could have supported the WNBA through it’s most financially difficult years as a league for 25 years, and still had several million to spare. Part of the reason that there is a pay gap between this leagues is not due to individual athletic performance, but finances. As recently as 2013, half of WNBA teams did not turn a profit, though this is a notable increase of profitability on the whole, as 3 years earlier there was only one financially stable team. Likewise, it should be noted that a good deal of WNBA Players do work internationally (using the league as a spring board) to make on average 10 times their salaries on the off season. Particular destination countries are China, Turkey, Israel and Poland.
How to Become a WNBA Player – Do You Need to go to School?
To become a WNBA Player is simple enough in terms of pathways, but certainly difficult in terms of the amount of effort one has to put in to become such an athlete. To begin with, most women who want to join the WNBA have to start playing basketball early to get a good handle on the game and often play throughout school. Also, one must have completed high school or university prior to being signed on by the WNBA, with an age requirement of 22 years old typically being enforced. This allows athletes to pursue academic achievement, and get further athletic conditioning from typically NCAA league Divisions I-III. Many players are scouted during this period of their careers, and are later invited to professional development camps and later drafts to be selected. The other path is typically reserved for international players. This does not have an education requirement, so long as the player is of age and has completed two seasons of an international league and wishes to transfer in to the WNBA. Lastly, there is another non-traditional route for those who don’t wish to attend college. For those individuals who can provide exceptional game footage of performance and a resume to the WNBA. This may also require that one joins a community or state level league so as to keep her skills up, as a good show will land a special invite to draft camp. This camp is used as a development camp as well as an evaluation camp for potential draft picks. To be the best of the best, one thing to be kept in mind is that not only is athletic performance required, but also the ability to handle stress and perform under pressure. If you can manage such things, then you are well on your way to becoming the next WNBA star.