As the NBA continues to grow globally; companies in the international markets have reached out to some of the game’s youngest, brightest and biggest stars to promote their products across the world. Even if it means paying a hefty price to lock down a potential superstar, NBA personalities have become some of the biggest brands in the world. In the age of social media, the culture has changed and fans are following their favorite players more closely than ever.
After the Michael Jordan era, companies and brands are taking the leap of faith for future marketable personnel who can help build and grow within the company. Back in October right before the college basketball season there were various reports adidas was ready to offer $180 million to Andrew Wiggins once he entered the draft. Whether the report was accurate or not, Wiggins is one of the few prospects in the last decade that received the “LeBron James” treatment out of high school.
A couple of months ago I wrote “The 20 Most Marketable NBA Players In History,” which featured guys like MJ, Penny, Kobe and LeBron. To reiterate, these guys changed the game of basketball off the court and provided the blueprint for the guys next up in line. Here the next wave of possible marketable stars in the NBA.
[RELATED: The 20 most marketable NBA players ever]
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15. Nick Young — Los Angeles Lakers
Twitter: @NickSwagyPYoung Followers – 78.1K
Erratic play and all, who doesn’t love Swaggy P? While he may never receive the large endorsement money and get the spotlight in commercials as other guys on this list, he is a social media superstar in the NBA. Nick Young has been one of the most entertaining NBA players over the last few years for his flamboyant personality. He is without a doubt one of the most fashionable players in the league; always donning Versace or rocking a fresh pair of sneakers on and off the court. It also helps that he is dating one of the most popular female rappers in the world in Iggy Azaela. A year without Kobe in Los Angeles, Nick Young was the lone player that was sometimes worth watching play at Staples.
14. Ricky Rubio — Minnesota Timberwolves
Twitter: @rickyrubio9 – Followers – 1.46M
Ricky Rubio has been in the global spotlight since the age of 14, when he was the youngest player to play in the top-tier level of the Spanish ACB league. Since then, after a successful debut in the NBA in 2011, Adidas and Rubio agreed on a 12-year $100 million contract. With a large international resume and his exciting and flashy game on the court, Rubio has been great for Adidas overseas despite playing in a small market for Minnesota. During his four years playing in Spain, Rubio’s parents kept him from talking to the media and declined millions in endorsement deals. When the 2008 Olympics came around, the secret about Rubio was out and the 17-year-old phenom’s fame grew like wildfire when he represented the Senior Spain men’s basketball team that took on the U.S. Men’s “Redeem Team” in the Gold Medal Game. He received praise from Chris Paul and many others after the Olympics and the legend of Rubio was sealed. After the Wolves selected Rubio with the No. 5 pick in the 2009 Draft, his career took a sabbatical as thousands in the U.S. had to wait one more year while his contract in Spain resulted in a huge buyout. He has become one of the best defending point guards in the league after leading the NBA in steals this past season and is a breakout season away from being an All-Star [Ed. Note: he’s still the worst shooter, possibly in NBA history]
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13. Dante Exum
Twitter: @daanteee Followers – 11.5K
The mystery surrounding Dante Exum has been a great attribute for his marketability. As one of the best prospects in this year’s NBA Draft, Exum has caught most of the media attention with people wanting to learn more about him. Over the years not many pros are coming out of Australia which has been the biggest reason people have not had the chance to see him play. On paper, he has the makings of a potential superstar. He has a crazy amount of upside for a 6-6 point guard that kind of reminds scouts of a young Penny Hardaway. At the NBA draft combine, he said he saw himself as a hybrid between Russell Westbrook and Manu Ginoboli. Alongside Kobe Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka, Exum has marketed himself well in LA. Adidas had the upper-hand in his recruitment, after they blossomed a relationship after hosting the Adidas Nation Tournament that helped bring Exum to the spotlight. If Exum is a huge success in the Association, the Australian hoops market will continue to grow along with him.