Every NBA Fanbase's Favorite Player
USA TODAY Sports
Every NBA fanbase has a favorite player.
In some cases, that player has represented the franchise as an All-Star for the last decade. In others, he is a rookie who carries the hopes of a rebuilding franchise on his shoulders.
For teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, the favorite player among its fans is strikingly clear.
For those franchises in transition, however—like the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic—the favorite player may be more subjective.
In an attempt to provide some metric of general popularity, the Twitter following of each player has also been identified in highlighting the favorites for each team.
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford
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Twitter Followers: 138K
Al Horford has spent the last six seasons anchoring the Atlanta Hawks' frontcourt.
Despite the departure of Joe Johnson—and rampant speculation that free-agent-to-be Josh Smith could be playing out his final days in a Hawks' uniform—Horford continues to provide consistent production at the center position.
Under contract for the next three seasons, Horford has given Hawks fans a reason to cheer this season, averaging a career-high 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds.
If the Hawks make the playoffs, Horford will be a major reason why. He figures to continue to be a foundational piece for this franchise.
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 2.58M
There aren't many things in all of sports more synonymous than Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics.
Ever since he broke into the NBA as the 10th overall pick in 1998, Pierce has known only one team.
Over a career now in its 15th season, the relationship Pierce has built with the fans who first met him as a rookie from Kansas is one that will be celebrated forever.
On February 7, 2012, he moved past Larry Bird to No. 2 on the Celtics' all-time scoring list. The 23,748 points he's scored through Sunday trail John Havlicek's 26,395 by only 2,647.
If Pierce were to average the 18 points he has this season for 148 more games, he would pass Havlicek for the top spot.
Whether that happens or not, though, the 10-time All-Star and 2008 NBA champion will go down as one of the greatest Celtics of all time.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 371K
Deron Williams agreed to a five-year, $98 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets this past July and instantly became the face of his relocating franchise.
Despite missing out on an All-Star invitation due to a sluggish start—while teammate Brook Lopez made his debut in the midseason classic—Williams remains the Nets' most widely recognized player.
After shooting only 38.8 percent in the month of November, followed by 40.8 percent in December, his first impression with the new Brooklyn fanbase left much to be desired.
Over his last five games, though, Williams has improved his field goal percentage and scoring average to 49.4 percent and 23.4 points.
Besides helping lead the Nets back to relevancy, he also has led Brooklyn to the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference through Sunday.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte Bobcats' Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 153K
It is impossible to watch Michael Kidd-Gilchrist handle his NBA business and not become an MKG fan.
On and off the court, his positive attitude and winning approach have instilled hope for a Charlotte Bobcats' fanbase devoid of any reason to believe prior to his arrival.
Playing just less than 26 minutes per game, Kidd-Gilchrist has made an impact as a rookie on both ends of the floor. His averages of nine points, 5.6 rebounds and one block will only improve with time and experience.
In a season when the Bobcats have posted the NBA's worst record through Sunday at 13-50, MKG continues to work—an effort that hasn't gone unnoticed among Charlotte fans.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 601K
Derrick Rose was born and raised in Chicago before going on to win the 2011 MVP for his hometown Bulls. Unfortunately, Chicago's favorite player has spent much of the last year working his way back from injury.
While there is no timetable for Rose's return, Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune reported that Rose and the Bulls are "communicating on a consistent basis, with the goal being getting [Rose] back on the floor, 100 percent ready to play."
If that goal is accomplished this season, Chicago instantly becomes a threat to win the Eastern Conference.
In the meantime, the Bulls have used a collective approach to defense and rebounding that has them in fifth place through Sunday.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 483K
One season removed from LeBron James' departure in 2010, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick.
In the time since, Irving has emerged as the fan favorite in Cleveland for good reason.
With the grace of a 10-year NBA veteran, Irving has masterfully blended a team-first approach with the desire to lead a collection of players many years older than he is.
Additionally, in an era when hype typically precedes production, Irving has earned his way into the spotlight, averaging 20.7 points and 5.5 assists during his first 100 games in the league.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 724K
After being acquired in a draft-day trade for Robert Traylor in 1998, Dirk Nowitzki has spent all 15 of his NBA seasons representing the Dallas Mavericks.
In 2011, he delivered an NBA championship to Mavericks fans, scoring 27.7 points in 21 postseason games.
For his career, the 34-year-old from Germany has averaged 22.7 points and 8.2 rebounds.
It will be a sad day when the Mavericks' all-time greatest player decides to hang it up. For NBA fans everywhere, let's hope that won't come for at least a couple more seasons.
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
Denver Nuggets' Ty Lawson
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Twitter Followers: 157K
Despite a record that has the Denver Nuggets essentially locked into the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, they went without an All-Star last month in Houston.
Kenneth Faried was named MVP of the Rising Stars game, though, and could potentially challenge Ty Lawson as the favorite among Nuggets fans.
Besides Lawson improving his scoring and assist numbers in each of his four seasons with Denver, nobody does the Bernie better than he can.
Along with the 17 points and 7.1 assists per game, that's enough to give Lawson the edge over his teammates.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Detroit Pistons' Andre Drummond
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Twitter Followers: 119K
Following the trade that sent Tayshaun Prince to the Memphis Grizzlies, a fan-favorite competition of sorts is underway in Detroit.
As the young faces emerge to replace those of past champions, nothing represents the future of Pistons basketball more than the sky-is-the-limit potential of rookie Andre Drummond.
While Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight figure prominently in the rebuild, Drummond is that rare player equipped with the size and athleticism to become the NBA's best center.
Unfortunately for Pistons fans, Drummond has missed the last four weeks while recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back. According to Carlos Martinez of the Detroit Free Press, it remains uncertain when he will return.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 496K
Stephen Curry has now spent four seasons with the Golden State Warriors, one more than All-Star David Lee, two more than Klay Thompson and three more than Andrew Bogut.
The trade that sent Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks in March of 2012 made the Warriors unequivocally Curry's team.
The fanbase has embraced him as such, and Curry's responded to shoot 44.8 percent from three-point range while averaging 22 points and 6.8 assists in 2012-13.
Over the last 10 games—as Golden State works to complete its push toward the playoffs—he's improved his production to 26.3 points and 7.4 assists.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets' James Harden
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 903K
In addition to the quantifiable statistics that James Harden has produced for the Houston Rockets, he's also brought an engaging personality that the fanbase can't help but appreciate.
From the beard to the swag, Harden has charismatically led the Rockets, who are 34-30 through Sunday, into playoff contention.
His 26.4 points per game ranks fifth in the league, and expect Harden to only improve the more comfortable he becomes with his new surroundings.
All of which has given Rockets fans cause to cheer loudest for Harden ever since he first arrived in Houston.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers' Paul George
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 138K
Paul George has moved past Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and the rest of his teammates this season to become the favorite player among Indiana Pacers' fans.
The "Paul Star" has earned that title by doing work in all phases of the game. His 17.6 points per game lead the team. He's also averaging 7.8 rebounds and four assists.
Since arriving in Indiana as a rookie in 2010, George has evolved from a high-flyer loaded with potential to a complete player who already made his first trip to the All-Star game.
At only 22 years old, expect the love affair between George and Pacers fans to continue for many seasons to come.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 1.86M
As long as he's wearing a Los Angeles Clippers' uniform, however, he will remain the favorite among a fanbase that didn't know what winning looked like until CP3 arrived.
He has willed his team toward home-court advantage in the first round and is the primary reason why nobody wants to play the Clippers in the postseason.
As the league's best point guard, Paul continues to make everyone around him better. The net result has been a new experience for Clippers' fans, one in which winning an NBA championship is a possibility.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 1.6M
Kobe Bryant is to the Los Angeles Lakers what Michael Jordan was to the Chicago Bulls.
In Bryant's case, however, he's won his five NBA championships in a career with the Lakers that's lasted for all of his 17 professional seasons.
When he eventually does retire, a statue will be built outside Staples Center to celebrate everything Bryant has meant to his team and its fanbase since arriving from high school in 1996.
At 34 years old and despite his Lakers failing to meet expectations thus far, Bryant is shooting a career-high 47.5 percent from the floor this season.
His 27.7 points rank third in the NBA as well, and he has Los Angeles in eighth place in the Western Conference through Sunday with a record of 33-31.
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph
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Twitter Followers: 43K
Zach Randolph's low-post game embodies the grit-and-grind spirit of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Z-Bo can't exactly get off the ground like Blake Griffin these days, but he finds a way to deliver from the power forward position when his team needs him the most.
Tony Allen, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are certainly easy players for Memphis fans to root for as well, but the Grizzlies will go only as far as Randolph can take them.
With 21 games remaining, Randolph's 15.7 points and 11.6 rebounds have Memphis third in the Western Conference.
LeBron James, Miami Heat
Miami Heat's LeBron James
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 7.57M
If you asked me who the Miami Heat fanbases' favorite player was this time last year, I would have said Dwyane Wade without hesitation.
The same could be said of Wade as far back as 2006, when he won his first NBA championship for Miami.
But James, the league's reigning MVP who is on pace to win the award again, has now replaced Wade as the biggest favorite among Heat fans.
James is leading the NBA in PER rating for the sixth straight season and remains the most dominant player in the league. He is leading the Heat in points, rebounds and assistsl, and has won over the fans of Miami in the process.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 27K
Brandon Jennings hasn't lived up to the insane hype he created on November 14, 2009, when he scored 55 points in the ninth game of his NBA career.
Despite that, Jennings has still been the Milwaukee Bucks' best player since he broke into the league.
Playing alongside Monta Ellis, Jennings has improved his assists average to 6.7 this season to with 18.6 points a game.
While his rookie contract is set to expire this summer—and his future with the team remains in question—Jennings has provide the Bucks' fanbase with a level of excitement that will not soon be forgotten.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 1.28M
But ever since Ricky Rubio first made the pilgrimage from Spain in 2011, he has placed an international spotlight on the Twin Cities.
After returning from the ACL injury he suffered last season, Rubio has gradually worked his way back into form, improving his per-game production to 12.8 points and 9.5 assists in February.
Through four games this month, he's improved that scoring average to 13.
While a healthy Love is ultimately necessary for a successful Timberwolves campaign in 2013-14, the ball will be in Rubio's hands for as long as he's representing the Minnesota fanbase.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
New Orleans Hornets' Anthony Davis
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 295K
The hopes of the New Orleans Hornets' franchise have rested on the young shoulders of Anthony Davis from the moment he was selected first overall this past summer.
Despite battling injuries throughout his rookie campaign, Davis has provided reason for continued excitement among Hornets fans.
Averaging 14.1 points and 9.5 rebounds over the last 10 games, Davis has scored 20 or more points eight times in 45 games. He's also had 10 or more rebounds 16 times through Sunday.
Once he's able to put everything together on a more consistent basis, Davis' star will only shine brighter in New Orleans.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 2.99M
Carmelo Anthony is the biggest star on Broadway after all.
While a debate once raged over the idea that the New York Knicks were better served with a Jeremy Lin-style approach on offense—as opposed to the isolation basketball that best suits Anthony's game—that talk is ancient history these days.
The 28.2 points that Anthony has averaged in 2012-13 is not only good for second in the NBA, but he has also helped lead the Knicks to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Once playoff basketball begins in Madison Square Garden, Anthony will be the biggest reason why his Knicks will have a legitimate say in determining a conference champion.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 3.76M
Kevin Durant has brought NBA excitement to Oklahoma City Thunder fans by leading the league in scoring for each of the past four seasons.
As the defending Western Conference champion, Durant has played as well as anyone in 2012-13.
Shooting 50.4 percent from the floor, 41.2 percent from three and 90.8 from the free-throw line, Durant has entered the exclusive 50-40-90 club while averaging 28.4 points and 7.9 rebounds.
The Thunder fanbase has responded as any collection of fans would by embracing Durant for all he's accomplished on the basketball court. That bond will only grow deeper the longer he represents the city he now calls home.
Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson
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Twitter Followers: 88K
Dwight Howard is no longer a member of the Orlando Magic. J.J. Redick's gone, too.
However, Jameer Nelson, who entered the league the same year as Howard in 2004—is still doing his thing on behalf of Magic fans.
At 31 years old, Nelson is averaging 14.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. In 574 games as the Magic's point guard through Sunday, he's posted a respectable career line of 12.6 and 5.2.
Recently, according to Brian Schimtz of the Orlando Sentinel, Nelson also suggested that it's time for his ex-teammate Howard to "take ownership” publicly of the negative things he's saying about his former team and "be a man."
That commentary from Nelson is certainly echoed as well by the fanbase he's represented for all of his professional career.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 63K
In a season filled with disappointment over the injury to Andrew Bynum, Jrue Holiday has been everything and more for Philadelphia 76ers' fans.
Playing with a workmanlike style and attitude that meets the approval of the blue-collar Philadelphia fans, Holiday has improved in every category during the 2012-13 campaign.
He's been an All-Star in every sense of the word and will continue to represent Sixers fans as such for many years to come.
Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns' Jared Dudley
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Twitter Followers: 144K
In the post-Steve Nash era, Jared Dudley remains as the biggest fan favorite of Phoenix Suns fans everywhere.
His engaging personality off the court has gone a long way to establishing Dudley's relationship with fans over the course of his career. But beyond being quick to offer an interesting post-game perspective, Dudley has also averaged double-figure points for the last three seasons.
Averaging 11.2 points in 2012-13, he will finish out the season with the Suns after speculation suggested he could be traded at the deadline.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 125K
I'll start by first apologizing to LaMarcus Aldridge.
He is still a two-time All-Star and the most important player in the Portland Trail Blazers' rebuild. But Damian Lillard has emerged as the most popular.
The 18.9 points and 6.4 assists he's producing have made an immediate impact on the bottom line. Off the court, though—among the basketball faithful in Rip City—Lillard's emergence has been somewhat of a phenomenon.
He is proving to be the point guard that Portland has searched for since drafting Sebastian Telfair 13th overall in 2004. Playing alongside Aldridge, Lillard also provides Portland fans with the legitimate belief that winning days are coming soon.
Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 91K
In Sacramento, where a small market mayor and fanbase fight to keep the Kings in town, that underdog story plays especially well.
Standing 5'9" on his tallest day, Isaiah Thomas has translated the Mr. Irrelevant label into productive NBA minutes over the last two seasons.
Averaging 12.9 points in 25.8 minutes of work during 2012-13, he has also proved his staying power among the best basketball players in the world.
All of which has given Kings fans an overwhelmingly positive story to root for amidst this trying times for their franchise.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan
USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: N/A
Tim Duncan has been the face of the NBA's best franchise for the last 16 seasons.
After receiving the torch from David Robinson, Duncan has represented San Antonio Spurs fans in the best possible way for his entire career.
He has been the cornerstone of four NBA championships and carried the Spurs' flag to 14 All-Star appearances.
At 36 years old, he is a critical piece of the San Antonio equation again this season. Duncan will figure prominently in their attempt to compete for a title again in 2013, and his legacy of winning will be celebrated as a first-ballot Hall of Famer as soon as his playing days conclude.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 202K
The Toronto Raptors have struggled to create a new identity since Chris Bosh left for Miami in 2010.
In DeMar DeRozan, however, Raptors fans have a high-flying, four-year player who is averaging a career-best 17.8 points per game.
Paired with Rudy Gay on the wing and Kyle Lowry at the point, DeRozan could be a critical reason why the Raptors are able to deliver playoff basketball to Toronto fans as early as next season.
Trailing the No. 8 seed Milwaukee Bucks by 8.5 games through Sunday, however, there isn't much hope for that this year.
Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Following: N/A
Alongside Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson has held down the painted area for the Utah Jazz over the last three seasons.
He has averaged at least 17 points and nine rebounds every year for Utah and has helped his team to the eighth seed in the Western Conference through Sunday.
Whether Jefferson is re-signed this summer as a free agent remains in question, but he has provided Utah fans with a competitive on-court product since his arrival.
He is certainly a far cry from the legendary days of Karl Malone and John Stockton. But for the moment at least, Jefferson has represented Jazz fans admirably on the basketball court.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards' John Wall
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter Followers: 710K
Washington Wizards basketball begins and ends with John Wall.
Nothing was more indicative of this than the way Washington struggled in Wall's absence earlier this season, winning only five games.
Since his return from injury, however, the Wizards have gone 15-13 as Wall has averaged 14.1 points and 7.1 assists.
Bradley Beal has performed better with Wall on the court, too. So there is reason to believe that better days are ahead in Washington so long as the first overall pick from Kentucky stays healthy.