These 5 NBA Stars Need Signature Shoes ASAP

Apparel brands need to invest in these personalities now

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De'Aaron Fox and Jaren Jackson Jr. / David Dow/Getty Images

After the release of the Nike Greek Freak 1s for MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, there are 18 players in the NBA with a signature shoe deal. Cutting out players with Chinese shoe brand signature deals, or self-produced signature shoes, that number dwindles to 13. A signature shoe requires some level of cachet. Of the 13 players, ten of them were All-Stars this past season and 12 of them have made at least one All-Star team. The past ten seasons, the MVP has had a signature shoe out or in the pipeline.

Still, there is a waiting period before a shoe is debuted. LeBron James debuted with the Nike Zoom Generation as his launch shoe in 2003, and 2019 number one overall pick Zion Williamson will eventually secure a signature shoe with the Jordan Brand sometime in 2020. Shoe brands usually take a wait-and-see approach with players. 

What players do on the court is important, but what they do off the court is just as significant. Commercials, social media and style are just a few of the many factors that allow players to showcase their personality and connect with fans. Being relatable, likable and real are important qualities that help a player connect with the public and sell shoes. With that in mind, here are the five players who should be next up for that signature shoe.

Devin Booker

At 22 years old, Devin Booker has already managed to put together an impressive highlight reel. The Phoenix Suns two guard has racked up a 70-point game in 2017 as well as two 50-point games from this past season. The problem standing between Booker and a signatureshoe is that his team doesn’t win enough. In his four seasons with the Suns, the team has lost at least 58 games every year. 

Still, Nike has shown interest in Booker, selling a few of his player exclusives at retail over the past three seasons. This included a collab of the Nike Air Force 1 Low released in a light blue colorway in June. Booker provides the right mix of style on the court as a bucket getter, and he’s become a regular on the League Fits Instagram showing off his style.

Joel Embiid

Though big men normally struggle selling shoes, Embiid provides the right mix of personality and skill. He appeared in commercials for Hulu, Mountain Dew and HyperX just last year. On Twitter, Embiid is regularly posting memes and isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself.

Paired with 6-foot-10 point guard Ben Simmons in Philadelphia, Embiid has developed into an annual MVP candidate. The 76ers were one Kawhi Leonard bounce from potentially making their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. With Leonard having left Toronto, the Sixers are primed to be a contender for Finals appearances annually. A collection of primetime playoff games and some runs at the NBA MVP are opportunities for Embiid to solidify himself as one of the most popular players in the NBA.

Jayson Tatum

With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford departed, Tatum is primed to have a breakout season playing with newly acquired Kemba Walker as well as Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward. Though Tatum struggled to take off in his second year, his game and style of play fit the traditional superstar model.

Off the court, Tatum has started to develop his brand. Nike went to him as their featured player when they debuted the Nike Adapt BB this past season. Even after a switch to Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand, Tatum is primed to be an interesting signature shoe candidate in a few years. At just 21 years of age and with just two years under his belt, Tatum has a bright future.

Luka Doncic

Fresh off a Rookie of the Year campaign, Doncic is already a sneaker god in his short time in the NBA. Doncic had a great amount of hype coming into the NBA, and he lived up to it by showcasing his dynamic skills as a scorer and passer. The opportunity to team up with big man Kristaps Porzingis has a massive amount of potential to transform the Dallas Mavericks into a playoff contender.

Doncic is a likable character. He’s a massive Fortnite gamer and a showman on the court. He made an auspicious shoe debut, donning multiple custom designs throughout the season. His penchant for bright colors and unique designs inspired by everything from his teammate Dirk Nowitzki to Dragon Ball make him a shoo-in for a signature shoe in the future.

De'Aaron Fox

Fox is a whirling dervish on the court, leading the Sacramento Kings’ charge to respectability last year. Fox finished third in the Most Improved Player voting and cemented himself as one of the top point guards in the NBA after averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 assists. 

Fox seems like an ideal candidate in the future to showcase some interesting collabs. In the vein of Kyrie Irving’s Kyrie 5 “Spongebob Pack,” Fox would have some good ideas. A noted Dragon Ball fan and avid gamer, Fox would connect well with a young demographic and bring colorways and collabs that have never been seen before. If he continues on his path to an eventual All-Star, Fox would make a legitimate signature shoe candidate.

Related: Cactus Plant Flea Market’s Next Nike Collaboration Might Top Its First

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