Anthony Davis has yet to officially announce his intentions to enter this year’s NBA draft. But with all signs pointing to him being the sure-fire overall number one pick, it would seem it’s only a matter of time. Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats will almost certainly have the best shot at grabbing Davis in this year’s draft, but will have to wait until May 30 to see if their likely 25% chance is good enough in the NBA draft lottery.
Certainly Jordan and anyone having anything to do with the Bobcats is praying the ping-pong balls bounce in Charlotte’s favor in May. But regardless of whether or not Jordan will get the chance to sign him as a player, the Jordan Brand should be looking to add Davis to its stable of players.
Big men don’t usually sell shoes the way smaller players do. But this year’s draft is interesting because what was once a loaded draft has quickly become one that isn’t exactly guaranteed to produce the next crop of NBA superstars. There are plenty of young and talented players available mind you, but seasons like those had by Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger where those two didn’t show exceptional improvement from their freshmen season, have dampened expectations for some.
But even if those two had made a huge jump in their sophomore seasons, and younger players like Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played as well as they did I’m not sure there would be many marquee candidates for shoe companies to sign. The draft’s top junior, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson had a fantastic season but even he lacks some cache when it comes to perceived marketability.
For the young guys, it’s somewhat a result of the system. We don’t get to know these guys really until about half way through February when most people’s attention finally turns to college basketball. And it’s really March and April when names of players start circulating through households that don’t belong to their school’s alumni. Robinson actually had a similar circumstance as he played behind the Morris twins until this year.
Ironically, the one guy who has been open about wanting to build and establish his brand is Barnes. And even though there can be a case made that he’s damaged that, there is still a lot to be written on him and the rest of these players coming out. Barnes can still make a name for himself at the pro level and brands can be remade. He just won’t ever be able to list National Champion or Player of the Year as part of his. But the good news is, those are not exactly pre-requisites for having a successful brand in the NBA.
That leaves Davis, the most well-known and talked about player in this year’s draft. He changed the course of the national championship game without being very effective on offense. Generally, offense is going to make you more marketable than defense. There aren’t many shoes sold on the pitch that a guy is a great lock down defender. (Gary Payton being the most prominent argument to that but GP had his own style and “The Glove” worked as a label mostly because he sold the hell out of it and he was good on both ends. But again, he was not a big guy.)
They say Davis can play the five and the four…they even say he can play the three. The. Three. I have a hard time grasping ahold of that one myself. If there’s anyone who can I suppose it makes sense that it would be a kid who was a perimeter player all the way through high school until he sprouted seven to eight inches between his junior and senior years in high school.
No matter where Davis plays, he’s projected to be extremely effective and help the team lucky enough to land him.
And in this draft he’s the only sure thing on the court which almost makes him the only sure thing off the court. Certainly other players will get signed by shoe companies. But where last year had Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams as perhaps the most recognizable names, this year we just have Davis.
Walker and Williams were both signed by Under Armour in a great move by the company looking to make noise in the basketball sneaker arena. The draft’s best player, top draft pick and certain rookie of the year, Kyrie Irving was signed by Nike. Overall, it has been a relatively quiet class for shoe signings, with the Under Armour duo being one of the sneaky smarter plays.
If you look at the Jordan Brand basketball roster on its website you’ll notice one thing is shockingly absent: youth. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwayne Wade lead the charge for JB and that’s a pretty damn good trio. Paul is the best point guard on the planet, Anthony is one of the best scorers in the world and Wade is all world. But none of them are getting any younger. It’s understandable for a company to take a wait-and-see approach with young players, especially before giving them a signature shoe. That just makes sense and JB in particular has a certain threshold because of its namesake. But there is also something to be said for having new blood.
Look further down and you’ll see Joe Johnson, D.J. Augustin, Gerald Wallace, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Kevin Martin…and we haven’t even gotten to Juwan Howard who is stil playing, God bless him. JB’s roster rounds out with the likes of Jared Jeffries, Josh Howard, Mike Bibby, and Quentin Richardson. No they’ve all provided us with some fantastic player exclusive kicks over the years (Allen edges Bibby as my personal favorite but I can certainly understand the other side), but most of these guys are on the backside of their careers. There are other guys who wear JB on a nightly basis, Monta Ellis comes immediately to mind and Tyrus Thomas has worn the Flint Grey Air Jordan XIII retros for the better part of two years.
But JB could really use an infusion of youth and there is no one better in this year’s class than Anthony Davis. He will certainly have his pick of shoe companies. But as witnessed on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated (excellent placement by the way), Davis makes the Jumpman look pretty good. If Jordan misses out on Davis with the first pick in this year’s NBA draft, the brand he inspired would be wise to put the full court press on to get him outfitted in Jordan Brand.