Warriors' Stephen Curry is a ridiculous bargain

Happy to represent Under Armour: NBA's Curry
Happy to represent Under Armour: NBA's Curry

Stephen Curry's sharpshooting and baffling handles just earned him his second-straight National Basketball Association MVP award.

His team, the Golden State Warriors, paid a bargain price for it.

Curry, who won the award Tuesday, had an $11.37 million base salary this season, putting him at 61st in the NBA, according to sports contract site Spotrac. He led the league with 30.1 points per game and 17.9 win shares, or the estimated number of wins he contributed to his team, according to Basketball Reference.

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors lays up a shot against Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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Curry, who broke his own record for 3-point shots made this season, became the league's first unanimous MVP recipient. He returned from injury and scored 40 points in the Warriors' playoff win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night. With the victory, the defending champion Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Many consider Curry the league's best player, but the Warriors do not pay him top dollar. Some other NBA elites, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul, made at least $5 million more than Curry this year.

CNBC assessed this year's top-20 players by win shares and top-10 players by base salary, gauging win shares generated per million dollars made. Curry ranked third, racking up 1.57 win shares for every million.

Only two players in that group, Miami's Hassan Whiteside and Portland's Damian Lillard, gave their teams more bang for the buck.

Some top-paid players may not have earned their keep.

Though Lakers great Kobe Bryant put on a 60-point show in his final game last month, he was a liability for most of his final season. Bryant, who had a $25 million base salary, generated negative win shares for his team.

Former MVP Derrick Rose, who made $20.09 million playing for the Bulls, added only 0.4 win shares.

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Curry, Whiteside and Lillard will not be bargains for long. Lillard, who made $4.24 million this year, has signed an extension with Portland that will pay him more than $20 million next season.

Whiteside, who took in about $981,000 this year, is set to become a free agent this summer. Curry will make about $12.11 million next year, but can become a free agent after the season if an extension isn't reached before then.

Curry, of course, is not struggling for money. Last year, he extended his Under Armour endorsement deal through 2024. The terms of that agreement, which includes an equity stake, were not disclosed.

Correction: This story was revised to correct that Bryant's final game was last month.