Analyzing the game’s most-followed, engaging, and impactful NBA players on social media.
After a long and eventful off-season that saw many of the league’s top players switch franchises, the 2019-2020 NBA season is in full swing.
To take stock of the new-look NBA, we analyzed every athlete across the league to see who has been making the biggest impact on social over the last 12 months.
Steph Curry also had an impressive performance on social, ranking second only to LeBron in four different categories.
But no player shared content more frequently than Los Angeles Laker Jared Dudley, who posted more than 3,100 times last year — averaging nearly 8.5 posts per day. Dudley, a career journeyman who is making his return to Los Angeles after spending last season with the Brooklyn Nets, actively uses his social accounts to interact directly with his fans, doing so primarily on Twitter.
While social can often be a one-way conversation for the world’s greatest athletes, Dudley uses his channels to relate, debate, and converse with his audience.
+ NBA players tend to post more on Twitter than any other platform, but engagement is consistently the highest on Instagram.
+ NBA players are least active on Facebook, but still use the platform significantly more than athletes in other U.S. professional leagues. The five most active players on Facebook were all born internationally, speaking volumes to the platform’s global influence.
+ The league’s young stars dominate the engagement rate category, capitalizing off of the pre-draft media exposure to engage with both college supporters and their new base of NBA fans.
+ Of the 30 players with the league’s highest engagement rates, 23 have been playing professionally for fewer than two seasons.
On The Rise
Zion Williamson, leads the way for rookies on social, despite injury delaying his on-court debut. Williamson tops his class with over 4.9 million followers and ranks seventh overall in total audience growth, adding more than 2.9 million new followers over the last year. Currently ranked just outside the league’s top 30, a successful rookie season could see him quickly rise through the league ranks.
Zion was also the only rookie to ranks among the league’s top players in total engagements, totaling more than 13.5 million for the year. Over 98 percent of his engagements came via his Instagram account, which is a prime example of the shift in preferences that has been taking place among players from the younger generation.
Williamson’s former Duke teammate and fellow rookie RJ Barrett also made the list by adding 1.2 million followers over the past year. If Barrett can become a star for the long-maligned Knicks, he would certainly join the shortlist of the league’s most marketable young players.
Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic — who also stars for the Serbian national team — built his audience by an incredible 1444.5 percent, the highest growth rate of any player in the league.
Among rookies, Timberwolves guard Jarrett Culver has added followers at the most impressive rate, taking advantage of his successful college season and NBA Draft media exposure to increase the size of his social audience by 1343.4 percent.
The NBA’s social media leaderboard
Below is our complete analysis of the NBA’s top athletes on social media. The ranking includes data measuring athlete activity, audience, engagement, and growth on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from October 17, 2018, to October 17, 2019.