LeBron James
Photo: NBA/Twitter

From movie features to clothing endorsements, it’s clear that the marketing potential of NBA stars is extremely high. Despite possessing some of the most lucrative sports contracts across the globe, NBA stars are able to exponentially increase their annual earnings through outside endorsement deals.

The rise of social media platforms has drastically increased the visibility and influence of today’s NBA stars. As a result, these players are frequently targeted by brands to engage in multi-million dollar sponsorship deals due to their reach and engagement within highly competitive markets. But which NBA players give businesses the most bang for their buck?

Utilizing social listening tools like HypeAuditor and Google Trends, The Action Network has ranked the 20 most marketable players in the NBA. By exploring the social, audience, and likeability performance of each player, an ‘NBA Influence Score’ index was created to reveal which star has the greatest reach, engagement, and consumer attractiveness.

The 20 Most Marketable Players in the NBA

Taking the No. 1 spot is NBA legend LeBron James. The multi-award-winning star claims the crown for both social and likeability performance, leaving him with an overall index score of 14.18 out of 20. For a man who has won four NBA Finals and four league MVP awards, is it really a surprise that LeBron tops the list?

LeBron is still regarded as one of the best on the court, so he’s also likely to be one of the most expensive endorsement targets off of it. James was named the fifth-highest paid athlete of 2021with off-court earnings ($65M) more than doubling his contract ($31.5M)1. It stands to reason that any potential sponsorship offer would have to break the bank to lock down King James.

Ranked as the second-most marketable player in the NBA is Steph Curry, with an overall index score of 10.67 out of 20. Thanks in part to his record-breaking sponsorship deals with Under Armour, Callaway, and CarMax, the 33-year-old was deemed the 11th-highest paid athlete in the world and had the eighth-highest off-court earnings ($40M)1 in 2021. He is closely followed by Derrick Rose (9.29), Devin Booker (8.96), and Luka Doncic (8.83), who round out the top-five.

Below is the complete list of the top-20 most marketable NBA stars:

RankFull NameTeamNBA Influence Score
1LeBron JamesLos Angeles Lakers14.18
2Steph CurryGolden State Warriors10.67
3Derrick RoseNew York Knicks9.29
4Devin BookerPhoenix Suns8.96
5Luka DoncicDallas Mavericks8.83
6Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks8.59
7Kevin DurantBrooklyn Nets8.55
8Kyrie IrvingBrooklyn Nets8.17
9LaMelo BallCharlotte Hornets8.04
10Russell WestbrookLos Angeles Lakers7.78
11Ja MorantMemphis Grizzlies7.67
12James HardenBrooklyn Nets7.56
13Anthony DavisLos Angeles Lakers7.52
14Damian LillardPortland Trail Blazers7.52
15Chris PaulPhoenix Suns7.51
16Klay ThompsonGolden State Warriors7.47
17Jayson TatumBoston Celtics7.40
18Ben SimmonsPhiladelphia 76ers7.32
19Zach LaVineChicago Bulls7.31
20Zion WilliamsonNew Orleans Pelicans7.18

Full information can be found here: https://www.actionnetwork.com/nba/most-marketable-popular-nba-players