Predicting the Top 25 Most Sought-After NBA Jerseys in 2012-13
Hey fans! Can't decide what NBA jersey you want to add to your collection? Worried about missing out on a hot new jersey trend like Linsanity from last year? Look no further—these 25 jerseys are sure to be at the top of the 2012-13 sales list.
This is the last season for NBA fans to purchase these fan favorites before the league plasters on advertisements next season (and check out my article here on why fans should begin boycotting jersey sales next year) so get your original, untainted Kevin Durant jersey while you still can! Starting next year, those Kobe Bryant jerseys at the Staples Center arena store could be sprouting large Farmers Insurance patches!
In the 2011-12 season, it was Chicago Bulls point guard and 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose who topped the jersey list. The top 15 can be seen here (and in case you’re wondering, Jeremy Lin was No. 2). Who will top the jersey sales list this season? Let’s take a look at my early predictions.
25. Andrew Bynum
The former Los Angeles Lakers big man finds himself in Philadelphia and gives the 76ers their first big name since Allen Iverson’s departure.
While Bynum is infuriatingly inconsistent and often a headache, he’s still arguably the second best center in the league. Expect to see a lot of Bynum jerseys floating around the East Coast.
24. Damian Lillard
Portland’s shiny new point guard is my pick for the Rookie of the Year award, and I expect him to get off to a furious start.
With his high-octane scoring ability, it won’t be long before he becomes one of the most entertaining players in the league. Expect Lillard jerseys to be popping up pretty darn quickly.
23. Pau Gasol
Gasol might be fading, but his team isn’t (the Lakers should contend for the West’s top spot) and he’s still one of the best known international players. Gasol was No. 11 in international sales last season according to nba.com, and he’s probably got another year or two on this list.
If it was his younger brother Marc on the Lakers, though, Marc would probably be higher—but he’s in the much smaller Memphis market.
22. Kevin Love
Kevin Love may play for a small market, but he’s one of the league’s top scorers.
Combine that with an exciting up-and-coming squad and one of the top international players as his teammate (see No. 14), and Love will be seeing a lot more attention this season than in years past.
21. Amar'e Stoudemire
The good for Stoudemire—he is one of the more well-known players in the league and plays in the biggest city in the world.
The bad for Stoudemire—he’s coming off a real down year and looked at times last season as if he’s done being a star-caliber player.
Playing in New York will keep his jersey sales up, but not for long if his performances don't improve.
20. Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce may be getting up there in years, but he’s still a very well-known and respected player.
The Celtics are not contenders for the Championship anymore, but they’ll still get their share of national attention. Pierce has another year or two of top-notch play before he fades away
19. Jeremy Lin
Thanks to Linsanity last season, Jeremy Lin’s jersey was the second most purchased on the market.. So why the big drop? The Knicks decided not to retain Lin and he signed with Houston, which is a large market but nowhere near the size of New York.
I also highly doubt Lin will ever be able to return to the level he was at during his peak last season, so eventually his luster will fade.
18. John Wall
Poor John Wall. In his first two seasons in Washington, he didn’t have one seriously talented teammate until the Wizards traded for Nene in March of last season.
Wall is considered a bit of a disappointment, but with a far better squad around him this season, I expect a big bounce back.
One on one, he is amongst the NBA’s top 20 players. Hopefully, now that he’s got some solid teammates, he can shine.
17. Kyrie Irving
The Cleveland Cavaliers got a star when they selected Kyrie Irving with the top pick in the 2011 draft. He may not have a ton of promising teammates quite yet, but he’s already got enough star power to carry the Cavaliers.
With his inside/outside game and an excellent feel for the point guard position, he’s a very entertaining player to watch and a sure-fire future All-Star. Cleveland fans need someone to get excited about, and Irving is that guy.
16. Russell Westbrook
I was surprised to see Westbrook had not made the top 15 jersey sales from last season. Sure, he plays in a smaller market and is in Kevin Durant’s shadow, but he’s still an incredibly entertaining player and throws down some vicious dunks.
The Thunder is still the team to beat in the West, and they’ll get plenty of attention this year. While he may not crack the top 15, expect a good number of Westbrook jerseys to ship out.
15. Rajon Rondo
No longer is Rondo in the shadow of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce—he is now clearly the Celtics' best player. Whether that is a good thing for Boston fans remains to be seen.
He’s an incredibly unique player and possesses some very polarizing skills. Depending on who you ask, he’s either a top five point guard or doesn’t belong in the conversation. One thing is for sure, though—he sells jerseys. Last year he was No. 10 in the league.
14. Ricky Rubio
Rubio was off to a great start to his NBA career before he tore his ACL midseason. If he can return completely healthy, he’s one of the most exciting players to watch, thanks to his incredible passing skills.
The fact that he's one of the top international players certainly helps as well, as he finished 15th in international sales last season.
The Timberwolves are my dark-horse sleeper in the Western Conference this season, and if they get off to the races early, they’ll hopefully get the attention they deserve.
13. Derrick Rose
Rose was at the top of jersey sales last season after his 2010-11 MVP award, but he’ll be out until at least March with a knee injury, according to a Chicago Tribune report. The Bulls may struggle without him, but that would only showcase just how important Rose is to the squad.
Hopefully he comes back completely healthy in March and gets the Bulls right back on track. If they do, expect Rose jerseys to be the hottest commodity towards the end of the season. If he can return 100 percent back to form, he's one of the 10 best players in the league, no questions asked.
12. Steve Nash
The 38-year-old Nash may be in the twilight of his career, but his relocation to Los Angeles should do wonders for his jersey sales.
He’s the new floor general for the NBA’s most polarizing squad and still a fan favorite around the league—Los Angeles will be gobbling up the Nash jerseys faster than they can make them.
If the Lakers get off to a blazing start, Nash might find himself further up this list.
11. Anthony Davis
The New Orleans rookie may not have much of an offensive game yet, and he’s likely 20-30 pounds too small to stand up to bigger NBA centers.
But he does have an unmatched defensive intensity, and he’s already the face of his franchise. His jersey is going to sell like hotcakes down in the bayou.
Plus, he’s already trademarked his unibrow. That is a man who knows how to sell surprising stuff. If he starts off his NBA career hot, the Hornets store will be running out.
10. Chris Paul
I was surprised to see Chris Paul was only No. 15 in jersey sales last season. I figured that a new team in the nation’s second biggest media market would jump him up the list, but I think he’ll see a higher number of Paul jerseys this year.
If he and No. 6 on this list can get the Clippers into a higher gear and shifted from pretender to contender, he could be the top point guard jersey seller easily. It’s hard not to expect big things from a top five player in the league, especially when he’s in Los Angeles (even if it is with the Clippers).
9. Dirk Nowitzki
The German superstar has a few more years of life in him, even if the Mavericks championship window is closed.
He’s got a solid team around him, but four potential starters—Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman—are in their first years with Dallas. It’ll be interesting to see how the Mavericks do this season.
Regardless of their success, Dirk’s jersey sell find plenty (he was No. 7 in jersey sales last year, and the Mavericks were No. 5 in total team sales.)
8. Deron Williams
This may seem high for Deron Williams, who had a bit of a down year last season stats wise. He wasn't in the top 15 jersey sales from last season either, but I’m betting he gets a big Brooklyn bump.
The Nets move from New Jersey to Brooklyn wasn’t huge in terms of distance, but the new black and white jerseys will require all old (and new) fans get an updated Nets uniform. No one on the Nets squad has half the star power that Williams has.
7. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade may be in LeBron James’ shadow after their magical playoff run, but Wade is a superstar in his own right. He was No. 6 in sales last season, and he’ll stay around the same this season thanks to the Heat’s championship.
He was unable to play in the Olympics while recovering from knee surgery, but it was a minor surgery that should not affect his long-term performance.
6. Blake Griffin
There isn’t a more exciting player in the NBA today than the explosive Griffin; if the NBA kept track of poster sales, Griffin would be at the top of the list.
While he may not be the most complete player (his defensive intensity is nowhere near the level of offensive intensity), he’s easily one of the faces of the league.
With Chris Paul as his floor general and the city of Los Angeles around him, he’s going to get a lion’s share of attention, adoration and jersey sales. He was No. 9 on the list last season.
5. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard joins the Lakers and their long history of legendary big men. From Wilt to Kareem to Shaquille O’Neal, the Los Angeles center legacy is a big one for Dwight to live up to.
Of course, being in Los Angeles has its advantages, too. One of those is a rabid fan base eager to accept their new superstar.
He’s the league’s top center and has relocated to a championship contender—while he may not be the most popular face around the league, he’s going to sell a vast number of jerseys. He was No. 14 in sales last season, but will see a huge increase thanks to this new market.
4. Carmelo Anthony
Anthony was No. 5 in sales last year and is a lock to be a top five this year. With Lin gone, he’s back to being the face of the Knicks, and his performance will determine just how far New York can go.
It doesn’t matter how inconsistent he is defensively—thanks to his lights-out scoring ability, he’ll be one of the most hyped players in the most hyped market in the league. He's also coming off an excellent Olympic run where he was among the top three on Team USA.
If he and the Knicks can somehow transition from being a “good” team to being a “great team” (I doubt it, unless Anthony becomes as good a defender as he is a scorer) then he has the potential to rise to No.1 on the list.
3. Kobe Bryant
It doesn’t seem possible that there is a remaining market for Kobe Bryant jerseys (after all, he was at the top of the jersey sales in six of the last 10 seasons).
The Lakers had themselves one heck of an offseason, adding both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard—instantly returning the squad back to contender status.
With the intrigue and prestige of the Lakers guarantying a spotlight in Los Angeles, Kobe will have one more monster year—which gives his jersey sales one more monster year as well.
2. Kevin Durant
If it wasn’t for the No. 1 guy on this list, Durant would be the top of the NBA both in wins and in attention.
As it stands, he’s doing pretty darn amazing for a guy who just lost in the Finals. He was excellent in the Playoffs, excellent in the Olympics and we know he’ll come out even better next year.
He may be on one of the more small market franchises in the league, but with his skill and scoring power, Durant will be at the top.
1. LeBron James
The King James rehabilitation train is now going at full speed, and you can expect LeBron will top the jersey list for the second time in his career (his was the top jersey in 2011).
After winning his first NBA title in June and blasting through the Olympics in August (if there was an Olympics MVP, he’d have won it), James is the hottest player in the NBA.
The Heat are still one of the NBA’s most intriguing squads and easily the most exciting to watch, so you’ll see a ton of LeBron and Co. on national television this year.
James was also the third highest selling jersey internationally last year, according to NBA.com. After tearing up the Olympic competition, expect his worldwide sales to skyrocket.