Jose Colorado

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Japan Pro Basketball League Salaries: BLeague 1, BLeague 2 Salaries [Table Breakdown]


 

Yearly Salary Ranges:

$36,000 - $1,000,000 USD/year

Average B1 Yearly Salary [Japanese]:

$147,000 USD/year

Average B1 Yearly Salary [Imports]:

$200,000 - $400,000 USD/year

Lowest Reported Yearly Salary [Japanese]:

$36,000 USD/year

Lowest Reported Yearly Salary [Import]

$100,000USD/year

MAX Salary:

$1,000,000 USD/year

Sources Referenced [Players, Media, Coaches]:

14

Source : Josecolorado.com, Professional Basketball Players Survey Data [2021]


Japan’s Basketball Pro Leagues salaries are some of the highest-paying in overseas basketball.

JAPAN basketball league salaries

Despite its modest No.42 FIBA Global Ranking, Japan actually has one of the highest-paying overseas basketball leagues in the ENTIRE WORLD with Japanese players earning a base average salary of $147K USD per year according to a Japan Times 2019 report.

When it comes to foreigner-born players, it is not entirely uncommon for these players to make over $1 million USD (bonuses/incentives included) if competing in the top Japanese domestic league - the B.League1.

Japanese basketball salaries took a turn for the BEST in 2016 when a FIBA-mandated merger took place between former rival leagues - the Basketball Japan League (bj league) and the National Basketball League.

The decision gave birth to the B.League (3 divisions), unifying Japanese basketball and allowing for greater:

  • Talent level

  • Sponsorships

  • Marketing

  • Fanbase

  • Brand recognition

…etc.

Ultimately:

All of this ended up making Japanese and import players alike much richer.


japan basketball league b1 salary

As the top domestic level in Japanese professional level, the BLeague1 obviously is able to pay the highest wages in the country - with the B2 and B3 coming in afterwards.

But when it comes to overseas basketball salaries - like many other countries - it is best to separate foreigners from nationals as both experience a different pay grade and salary expectation.

Let’s start with the Japanese players in the BLeague 1 first.



how much do japanese pro basketball players make?

Local Japanese professional basketball players enjoy one of the highest “domestic salaries” in overseas basketball at $147,000 USD/per year. But for top-performing Japanese players, i.e. National Team members, it gets even better as these players made on average $417,000 USD according to the Japan Times.

On the lower end of things:

Based on our research and public player admissions, the lowest a BLeague1 Japanese player can make is approximately $36,000 USD/per year - still ahead of the vast majority of overseas basketball salaries across the world!

And when discussing the high-end…


yuki togashi’s salary

Yuki Togashi is the highest-paid Japanese player in the BLeague.


While Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura’s 3-year/$14 million deal is by far the highest salary for any Japanese basketball player in the world, Yuki Togashi holds the title as the highest-paid B.League Japanese player at the moment.

That’s because in 2019 it was announced the 5’6 point guard had signed a $923,000 USD deal with the Chiba Jets. With incentives and bonuses it’s almost certain the contract pushed him past $1 million USD.


 

Perhaps unsurprisingly:

It was also reported that Togashi’s Japanese club, the Chiba Jets, led the entire B.League1 in business revenue in the 2018 - 2019 season with $16.2 million USD.

So it makes sense the league’s top-earner would also play for the most profitable club.

Here’s the highest-earning pro teams in Japan:

  1. CHIBA JETS ($16.2 MILLION USD)

  2. SEAHORSES MIKAWA ($14.9 MILLION USD)

  3. ALVARK TOKYO ($12.7 MILLION USD)

  4. UTSUNOMIYA BREX ($12.6 MILLION USD)

The influx of HUGE money to Japanese basketball isn’t just limited to these teams though.

The B.League as a whole has been on a tremendous upward swing since its 2016 merger took place.

Just consider:

IN THE 2018-2019 SEASON, THE BLEAGUE STATED IT HAD MADE $283 MILLION USD IN REVENUE - NEARLY 3X THE AMOUNT GENERATED IN THE YEAR PRIOR TO ITS 2-LEAGUE MERGER.

And all of this has led to higher-profile players coming over in recent years.


thirdy ravena salary in japan


One of the best examples of Japan’s new powerful economic status within overseas basketball happened in 2020.

The end result:

Filipino sensation, Thirdy Ravena, being lured away from his domestic Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and instead signing with the San-en Neo-Phoenix of the BLeague 1.

Per The Manila Times, it is estimated Ravena was expected to make $49,600USD/per year if he were to play his rookie pro season in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

So by Ravena accepting an offer in the BLeague1 - where the average base salary is $147,000 USD/per year, it is speculated the Filipino guard saw AT THE VERY LEAST a $100K increase in pay.

But it gets juicer:

Ravena’s agent confirmed to The Manila Times that his client would be “compensated as an import,” likely jumping his salary into the $200K - $400K/per year range.



Another interesting nugget to take away from Raven’s story:

Despite being a foreigner (i.e. not Japanese), Ravena doesn’t actually count as an import.

That’s because Japan adopts what is known as an “Asian import” rule.

Essentially, under this ruling BLeague teams are allowed:

  1. 3 imports (usually American big guys)

  2. 1 Asian import (Player born outside of Japan but who is from another Asian country)

  3. Nationals (i.e. Japanese)

So this means additional money-making opportunities may await players with Asian descent as the expectations/the level of entry won’t quite be as difficult as an import (although they will still be very hard for a high-end league like this).

Thirdy Ravena earns a basketball salary similar to a foreigner in the Japanese BLeague1.


Beyond the current players in the BLeague1, the perception of Japanese players as world-class athletes continues to grow.

The most famous example, of course, remains Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards, NBA).

But there are also others making their mark, including:

And when you consider:

  1. Japan’s national team level continues to impress

  2. Tokyo, Japan will be hosting the 2021 Olympics

…it certainly appears as though basketball’s popularity and economic growth won’t be slowing down anytime soon in Japan.


japan basketball league b2 salary

And all of this excitement and financial gains has also trickled down to the lower levels of Japanese pro basketball as well.

The Japan Times reports the Hiroshima Dragonflies led the BLeague2 in revenue with $4.36 million USD in the 2018/19 campaign.

The fact that Japan is able to maintain two leagues with such high revenue streams is remarkable - especially when you consider the MASSIVE drop-off in many overseas basketball leagues across the world.

Just consider Spain - the No.2 FIBA-ranked country in the world:

In the top division - the ACB - players can expect $250k - $500k/per year.

In the second division - Liga Oro - it is extremely rare for hoopers to crack 45k/year.

Unlike other countries, Japan’s basketball salaries remain competitive in multiple divisions.


And these types of HUGE financial drop-offs from 1st to 2nd division aren’t uncommon in other overseas basketball leagues.

In this sense:

Japan is very rare in that it pays competitive wages on multiple levels.

Although I couldn’t find any media reports detailing the BLeague2 players salaries, one multi-year second division player told me Japanese BLeague2 players can expect anywhere from $22K USD - 60K USD/per year.


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When it comes to imports, the range again spikes up to $3,000 - $25,000USD/per month with the average being around 8K - 9K/per month.

With all of this being said these players WORK for the money - whether in B1 or B2.

The Japanese basketball season runs for approximately 9 months with 60 regular season games!

In terms of workload:

The BLeague is fairly comparable to a NBA season or high-level Europe.


CONCLUSION

Getting into the BLeague is not an easy feat regardless of what level you play at.

Everyone wants in.

Everyone wants the money.

So if you are a rookie or lower-profile overseas basketball player then it’d be wise to look at other lower-level Asian leagues first.

Start from there and work your way up.

But if you are an established pro then Japan’s BLeague is the place to be.

Enormous basketball salaries, growing fan interest and great lifestyle.

What more could you ask for?

Are you someone - or know someone - who has played in the Japanese BLeague?
What was your/their experience like?
Let me know in the comments below!

Jose Colorado, professional basketball player, talks overseas basketball scams.

Jose Colorado is a 6-year professional basketball player helping others achieve their dreams of pro basketball with a proven and tested approach to overseas basketball.



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