Next Wave of NBA Influencers

Who is the next wave of basketball stars to build a brand around?

Being the face of a brand, one must have established their own brand. How and why does a company choose the right face for their brand? Establishing a quality brand takes time, practice, and even some luck. In the age of social media, people are able to start building their personal brands earlier and with more control. This can be seen in athletes, especially in basketball.

High school basketball players are building their brands earlier and earlier, with the goal of getting noticed and receiving scholarships. According to the basketball recruiting site Rivals, their top five prospects for the class of 2019 are: Vernon Carey Jr (54.8k Instagram Followers), James Wiseman (38.3k Instagram Followers), Cole Anthony (208K Instagram Followers), Jaden McDaniels (8,787 Instagram Followers), and Isaiah Stewart (16.9k Instagram Followers). Combined these five players have a total of 326,787 Instagram followers, as well, all are verified on Instagram. The highlight of this bunch is Cole Anthony, a point guard from Virginia, who has taking the social media world by storm, creating quite the brand for himself before he even receives his high school diploma.

This summer, Charge go forward, an Indianapolis-based sports marketing agency, decided to find out which young athletes have the strongest brands. The athletes had to be under twenty-five, and the research was conducted analyzing different channels of media to determine brand strength. That research, combined with Charge’s proprietary formula, they were able to determine the top athletes under 25 with the strongest brands.

Here is the future of basketball brand influencers according to Charge:


1) Jayson Tatum

Instagram Followers: 1.9 Million

Twitter Followers: 348K

Age: 20

One of the leagues brightest young stars, also happens to be one of the youngest players in the entire league. The number three overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft and Rookie of the Year Finalist, brand looks bright both on and off the court. The Boston Celtics forward is endorsed by Nike, starring in a Foot Locker x Nike national campaign, and a spokesman for a local Pizza Parlor in his hometown of St. Louis.



2) Luka Doncic

Instagram Followers: 997k

Twitter Followers: 186k

Age: 19

The Slovenian Sensation, Luka Doncic, was the third player selected in the 2018 NBA Draft. The rookie will wear Nike this for this season, but questions to which sneaker brand he will wear after his rookie year will linger throughout the season. Earlier this month, Bungie, the company that brought us Halo, had Luka attend their event for the Destiny 2 release. While Doncic’s social stats aren’t as flashy, his consistency across platforms is the reason he is ranked where he is.



3) Joel Embiid

Instagram Followers: 2.8M

Twitter Followers: 1.53M

Age: 24

The Process has turned himself into a “what if he was healthy” prospect, into one of the young stars this game has to offer, both on and off the cart. Joel has become a social media star by speaking his mind and talking trash to other NBA big-men. The Cameroon native, has built a brand that goes further beyond basketball, establishing deals with Adidas, becoming a brand ambassador for gaming company HyperX, and trademarking his nickname “The Process”. It will be interesting to see what Embiid decides to do when his contract with Adidas runs out later this month, he will easily be one of the hottest sneaker free agents in the league.



4) Devin Booker

Instagram Followers: 2.3M

Twitter Followers: 615K

Age: 21

The Phoenix Suns’ star shooting guard had quite the summer, receiving a new five year contract worth $158 million, will be enjoying his time elevating his brand in the desert for the near future. A bright star in the NBA, Booker a Nike athlete, has already had his player-exclusive shoe come out before his twenty-first birthday. None of the three players above him have had their own PE Shoe or have scored 70 points in an NBA Game, Booker has done both. He has been featured in commercials for Foot LockerFrosted Flakes Mexico Campaign, and Kevin Hart’s latest movie, Night School. Booker also makes himself available for public appearances and speeches, another way of elevating his brand. Similarly to Embiid, Booker will soon be one of most sought after sneaker free agents when his contract with Nike runs out.



5) Markelle Fultz

Instagram Followers: 1.7M

Twitter Followers: 218K

Age: 20

The Number 1 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, has had a whirlwind of a rookie season, starting on Draft Night, when he had this famous mishap promoting Tissot on Instagram. Besides that, Fultz forgot how to shoot and struggled with injuries, causing him to miss the majority of his rookie season. The hyped rookie signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Nike, adding to the core of young talent on their roster. Despite missing the most of his Rookie Season, he was all over NBA Headlines throughout the season. This past week, Fultz became one of the faces for Magari Empire, a luxury accessory brand out of California.



6) Miles Bridges

Instagram Followers: 229K

Twitter Followers: 67.9K

Age: 20

This may surprise some, Bridges was not a top ten pick in his draft, but he is the second highest player from the 2018 Draft on the list. Bridges’ social media stats may not blow anything out of the water, but the consistency amongst all platforms, is a reason for the high ranking, remember consistency is key when it comes to brands. The Flint native, former Michigan State All-American, inked a four-year deal with Nike before the draft, choosing them over his Boss’ brand Jordan. During draft night, Miles linked up with Saks Menswear, for his attire for the evening. The high-flying rookie will look to continue to keep his digital presence well rounded and consistent, with hopes of elevating his brand.



7) Myles Turner

Instagram Followers: 156K

Twitter Followers: 91.4k

Age: 22

Myles’ NBA career is pretty similar to his digital presence, each year just keeps getting better and better. Turner is one of the few newcomers to this list, that was eligible for the 2017 list, but didn’t make the cut. Myles keeps up with his digital presence on his website On this platform, he keeps his fans updated on his basketball campscharity initiativesappearances, and all other things Myles. He has a bunch of endorsements including NikeMountain Dew, clothing brand ALBA, his own wrist-wear line from Deuce Brand, and appeared in local commercials for Indiana Members Credit Union. Myles Turner has quietly built a brand that has a bigger impact than just playing basketball.



8) Kristaps Porzingis

Instagram Followers: 1.6M

Twitter Followers: 331K

Age: 22

New York’s bilingual unicorn, is budding into one of the league’s brightest superstars both on and off the court. The Latvian star has become a household name in the league and for brands due to his international appeal. Basketball is a global brand, so it would make sense one of their top international players is recognizable on a global platform. Porzingis came into the league under the Nike brand, but when his contract expired, Adidas quickly swooped in, making it the most lucrative shoe deal signed by a European player. He has also reached deals with JBLBodyArmour, clothing brand Haute Living, a Seattle-based nutrition bar company Zing-BarsShifman Mattressa Latvian Credit Card and appearing in commercials for Footlocker and Delta Airlines. Kristaps often referred as the most popular person in Latvia, was the focus of a popular Latvian rap song, that made waves after appearing on Youtube. PORZINGOD, a short film that was an Official Selection for the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, focused on Porzingis coming to answer Knicks fan’s prayers. Being an international superstar playing in New York, the endorsements will continue to come in for KP.





10) Donovan Mitchell

Instagram Followers: 1.7M

Twitter Followers: 364K

Age: 21

Trae Young took the NCAAB by storm last season, Donovan Mitchell did the same in the NBA this year during his impressive Rookie season. Mitchell was the only member of the 2017 NBA Lottery to have an endorsement deal with Adidas, after his break-out rookie season, it seems Adidas may be making Mitchell more of a focal point for their basketball brand. Mitchell went through a highly contested and debated race for Rookie of the Year, with fellow rookies Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum. Adidas decided to help promote Mitchell for the award by putting up billboards in Utah that read “ROOKIE?”, adding heat to the debate whether Simmons should be eligible for the award. Mitchell has endorsements with LGTissot, he is the on the cover of NBA 2K Online 2, and appeared in a Vivint Smart Home commercial. Mitchell is very good about communicating with his fans via social media, he has bought fans phones, dropped by a communities’ 4th of July BBQ, helped wingman for a lucky Jazz Fan, and cheered up a young girl battling cancer. By constantly interacting with his fans and acting as a role model for the community, Mitchell is building a strong brand with a loyal core of followers.

This blog post was written by PRowl Director of Finance Evan Goldwasser.

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