The NBA’s Top Performers on Social | 2020-21 Season Recap

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing after the league completed a 72-game season and play-in tournament. During the regular season, NBA The NBA Playoffs are in full swing after the league completed a 72-game season and play-in tournament. During the regular season, NBA athletes earned over 570 million engagements on social, and shared over 30.9K posts. We analyzed performance for every NBA athlete on social throughout the regular season and here’s what we found:

LeBron remains King of NBA social

LeBron James once again earned the most engagements on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram among all NBA athletes this season (144.8 million). He’s led the league in engagements in each of the last ten seasons, earning over 3x more engagements than Stephen Curry, who was 2nd at 44.3 million. James posted 13 of the top 20 most-liked Twitter posts from NBA athletes, and 19 of the top 20 most-liked Instagram posts.

The Los Angeles Lakers also led the NBA in athlete engagements, (179.6M) with LeBron accounting for 80.6%. Below are the top 10 NBA players who accounted for the highest percentage of their team’s athlete engagements:

Athlete Engagements Team Athlete Engagements % of Team Engagements
Ja Morant18,330,41819,892,24792.15%
Giannis Antetokounmpo25,288,91629,010,18787.17%
LeBron James144,784,206179,619,50480.61%
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander4,708,8576,153,34376.53%
LaMelo Ball10,952,36614,469,05375.70%
Stephen Curry44,266,91859,672,76774.18%
Russell Westbrook  13,267,14618,087,57673.35%
Luka Doncic    9,080,89713,038,21969.65%
Chris Paul  7,157,41010,383,06768.93%
Damian Lillard  22,927,19338,354,49659.78%
For example: Ja Morant accounted for 92.15% of all engagements generated by Grizzlies players.

Young stars rise to the top
Of the top 10 most-engaging NBA athletes, three are aged 22 or younger. Luka Doncic, Ja Morant, and LaMelo Ball earned 38.4M engagements and have a combined audience of 25.1M followers. Doncic, now in his third season, earned the 10th-most engagements (8.2M) and gained 824.5K followers, nearly 10% of his current following. Morant earned the 5th-most engagements this season (18.3M) while also earning the 2nd-most engagements on Twitter (4.35M), only behind James. Ball finished his first season as the leader among all rookies in engagements (10.95M), followers, and growth. He also had the highest overall engagement rate (3.6%) and Instagram engagement rate (12.3%) among the top 15 NBA players.

Jokic wins MVP race
In past seasons, the top performers on social usually found themselves in the middle of the MVP race and would even promote their candidacy through it. Although he has no Twitter or Instagram account and posted 9 times this season on Facebook, Nikola Jokic won the 2021 NBA MVP. On those 9 posts, he earned 34.1K engagements on a 1.91% engagement rate and grew his following by 93%. Kawhi Leonard was also a Top-10 MVP candidate this season despite only having a Twitter account and no posts since 2015. Curry and Joel Embiid were the other two MVP finalists, and they rank 2nd and 28th in engagements respectively. Jokic is the first NBA player in the social media era to win MVP without finishing in the top 10 of league engagements since Derrick Rose in 2011.

Below are the top 20 NBA players on social from this season, ranked by total engagements, engagement rate, growth, and growth rank:

AthleteEngagementsEng. RateGrowthGrowth Rk.
LeBron James  144,784,2060.53%10,666,269            1
Stephen Curry44,266,9180.99%2,558,569            2
Giannis Antetokounmpo25,288,9162.55%  942,465            4
Damian Lillard22,927,1930.65%  788,012            8
Ja Morant8,330,4181.38%  815,610            7
Kyle Kuzma14,909,0672.67%  419,261          21
Russell Westbrook13,267,1460.82%  768,474            9
James Harden12,125,5051.90%  987,464            3
LaMelo Ball10,952,3663.60%  768,265          10
Luka Doncic  9,080,8973.58%  824,568            6
Jayson Tatum  8,193,3713.31%  291,510          34
Trae Young  7,497,6051.13%  357,127          26
Chris Paul  7,157,4100.47%  595,676          15
Kyrie Irving  6,409,8281.19%  925,224            5
Donovan Mitchell  6,286,0840.89%  328,732          28
Carmelo Anthony  6,163,7390.54%  402,590          23
Lonzo Ball  6,071,2892.71%  733,489          12
Klay Thompson  5,896,4022.96%  686,841          13
Ben Simmons  5,439,1321.58%  162,779          52
Anthony Davis  5,083,6143.20%  610,524          14

Using the graphs below, you can view any NBA athlete to see how they performed on social this season, as well as viewing athletes by team.

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