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Zion Williamson's Marketability Takes A Big Hit If He Lands With The Pelicans

Zion Williamson's Marketability Takes A Big Hit If He Lands With The Pelicans

The type of market a player lands in directly affects their ability to push product. No matter how fun the city might be, Zion Williamson landing in New Orleans isn't the outcome sneaker companies looking to sign the future NBA star to an endorsement deal are hoping for.

Luck Of The Draw

The NBA Draft lottery took place May 14. With the worst record in the league last season, many assumed the New York Knicks would land the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, Luck bounced down Bourbon Street instead, and the New Orleans Pelicans will have the No. 1 pick, while the Knicks pick No. 3.

Williamson going to the Pelicans could severely hurt his marketability.

“The ideal team in terms of the highest value would have been the Knicks. NYC is the epicenter of basketball sneaker culture. Some years ago we did a study that saw 25 percent of Nike basketball shoes were sold in NYC,” NPD Group's Matt Powell told Benzinga.

Regardless of talent level, signature athletes generally see their merchandise sales rise when they go to New York. “When Carmelo Anthony went from the Nuggets to the Knicks, his shoe sales got better,” Powell said.

No doubt Williamson will garner national interest, but it's the local interest that has the big payoff, added Powell.

Who Will Sign Zion?

Powell argues he believes a Chinese shoe company will sign Williamson. Li-Ning, Anta and Peak are all possible contenders in the bid to sign the most hyped NBA endorser since LeBron James.

“At the current trajectory, the Chinese basketball market is going to be larger than the U.S. market. The Chinese brands are all being very aggressive to try to get share back that they have lost to Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) and Adidas AG (ADR) (OTC: ADDYY). To me it makes more sense for a Chinese brand to step up here,” Powell said.

“Whatever it is, it is going to be stupid money. There is no way to justify the contract by merchandise sales; whoever signs him will do so at a loss. At the end of the day they are competing against each other instead of trying to turn on merchandise.”

All in all, Powell says there are far more instances where big time athletes endorsement contracts haven't worked out then when they have.

“He could sell a lot of shoes, or he could be a Kevin Durant -- a great player that barely sells anything. He could be a Dame Lillard and [be] stuck in a tiny market. Lillard shoe sales are tiny,” he said.

Related Links:

What Broken Shoe? Nike Shares Rally, Brand Named Most Valuable After Zion Williamson Incident

Nike's 'Tanjun' Was The Bestselling Shoe Of 2018; Mid-Market Footwear Dominates Top 10

Photo credit: Keenan Hairston, Flickr


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