adidas announced yesterday that they have officially signed five potential lottery picks. Projected top ten NBA draftees Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown and international player Dragan Bender are all going to be reppin’ the Stripes to begin their basketball careers.
This is a major score for adidas and starts them off with a bang and a set of five players that could potentially be impactful right out the gate. Observers and sneaker fans alike were wondering what they may have had up their sleeve after loosing the bidding war for Ben Simmons earlier in May. Despite an incredible offer, Simmons decided on Nike, which in retrospect, was a hit but not particularly hard now. With their current stable of top end players in James Harden, Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose and the new design team set to take the reigns, puts adidas on track to make a solid start to the basketball season.
This quintet could be five of the most marketable players heading into the coming season and if so could be a giant step forward for adidas in gaining some traction on Nike and maybe even getting ahead on Under Armour. Marketability as opposed to draft market is becoming the standard for signing players and the three stripes could be getting that with these five.
With the exception of Bender, who played in Israel last year, Dunn, Ingram, Brown and Murray all played for Nike affiliated college programs, showing that it’s not necessarily an automatic nod at the next level. That message is huge and may be resonating that something bigger is happening, in terms of a paradigm shift. With the emergence of Under Armour in the last few years and recent influx of Chinese brands like Anta and Li-Ning able to sign NBA players, there is an incremental chipping away at the Nike market stranglehold. These athletes are looking to take that road less travelled signing with a brand other than Nike and adidas is willing to place a bet on them to succeed.
Time will tell if this strategy will pay off for both the players and adidas as there hasn’t been a lauded rookie sneaker draft class that collectively made a significant impact early in their careers. The last big lineup of five rookies that was marketed together was by Converse who had Wade, Chris Bosh, Kirk Hinrich, Mike Sweetney and Troy Bell. Even then really only two of them made much noise in the first five years in the League. Obviously playing the numbers works and with this set of players it could definitely mean a a full house.