This blog has debated whether October is the best month for sports, with a combination of MLB playoffs, the NFL season, and the start of the NBA at the end of the month. It’s no secret that the NBA is one of the Nao blog’s favorite sports with investments in teams ranging from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Houston Rockets, which we covered time and time again.
The 2014 season will be defined by one question: who can stop the Miami Heat? Can it be the Chicago Bulls? The Oklahoma City Thunder, or did they give up too much? The crafty Spurs? These teams, lead by their respective superstars, will be covered further on this blog throughout the season. For now, the top 5 player brands with the most at stake this season:
5. Dwight Howard – Dwight Howard got his way, as he did last season with his trade from the Magic. Here’s hoping his intuition this offseason is much more successful. He did himself no favors from a public standpoint by forcing his way out of Orlando. His image, for the most part, was positive – he was a happy, go lucky center blessed with extreme athleticism. Last season with the Lakers brought out a darker side of Howard, who was no longer content with anything less than the big city. But like many who have Hollywood dreams, they end up in tatters, with a first round sweep by the Spurs, whose twin towers of Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan showed a nuance that Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard didn’t reach as a pair the entire season.
He signed with the Houston Rockets this offseason, completing an evil plan hatched by uber-uber sabermetric GM Daryl Morey, pairing him with James Harden. The statistics and data show the Rockets’ potential for a dominant, fast pace team on both sides of the ball. These statsheet visions are anchored by one man.
4. Carmelo Anthony – Carmelo Anthony’s 2013 season will be about what happens off the court as much as on. On the court, it’s simple – take the NY Knicks as deep into the playoffs as possible. Yet in the final year of his contract, the rumors of moving to the LA Lakers have already started. There’s numerous possibilities. If the Knicks have a down year, is Melo more likely to leave? If the Knicks made it to the NBA Finals, can Melo entertain leaving? Does it even matter?
3. Kevin Durant – Nowhere does the question I presented of “who can be the Miami Heat” apply to more than Durant and Rose. But Durant has more to lose by losing than Rose, as he is widely considered the second best player in the NBA. And Durant’s success is the OKC Thunder’s front office success, specifically GM Sam Presti, who needs Durant and co. to win a title in order to get rid James Harden’s presence from the franchise. Otherwise, that decision a year ago could truly have changed the landscape of the NBA in more ways than one.
2. Derrick Rose – Rose took the entire 2012-2013 NBA season off to recover from an ACL tear. He comes back to a roster ready for a deep run in the NBA playoffs, tailored made for his skillsets. Adidas backed him the entire year as the face of their basketball line. The Bulls have the talent to beat the Heat in the playoffs. But Rose must elevate his game to another level.
1. Lebron James – No longer chasing rings, he’s chasing legacy – he’s chasing Jordan.
Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant. Bryant doesn’t have much to prove this season – we already know he’s a combination of champion/crazy/driven/not human/psycho/machine. If he produces at all this season, it only increases those adjectives. If he struggles, then no harm done.
Follow Nao Media and Consulting on Twitter and stop by our Facebook page. Download Nao Media and Consulting’s “Sports Marketing Playbook” from the Nao Store. Also remember to purchase “O.P.E.N. Routine: Four Components to Personal Branding Excellence” for insight into building your brand.