In wake of the news that James Harden may be signing up for a cool $200 million to don Adidas’s three stripes, one thing appears clear: for that type of dough, we can expect a Harden shoe in the pipeline. That got us thinking: which other NBA stars could use a signature sneaker? We’ll spare you Matthew Dellavedova’s hypothetical line of steel-toe boots, but we did use our imagination. Sneaker executives, take notes.
This is an easy place to start. Davis, under contract with Nike and the NBA’s best player without a signature shoe, may not be far from landing his own model. Yes, there’s the old adage that big men don’t sell sneakers (just ask Shaq), but Davis is a different on-court breed, with a long career ahead of him and tantalizing room for growth. He’s been wearing Nike Hyperposites on-court and is certainly due for an upgrade—he’ll have the bargaining leverage for one before long.
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For a Davis shoe, Nike could use Jordan’s Superfly line as a technological touchstone, shedding weight while maintaining structure and support for a versatile shoe both bigs and guards can appreciate. Perhaps a unibrow motif throughout? Davis debuted a new shoe at USA minicamp this week—we’re not yet sure what it is, but could be a step in this direction.
Nike’s already deployed George as a main athlete on its HyperRev shoe (the same one it had Harden in last season), and he’s got the right type of game to intrigue consumers. Though his broken leg last summer sidetracked his ascent to stardom, let’s not forget just how good he was before the injury. His new “PG-13” nickname is just asking to be creatively branded.
There are plenty of great guard shoes out there, and Nike’s most recent signature, the Kyrie, has been a success from a design and a popularity standpoint. The use of flyknit on the Kobe line is always eye-catching, and with No. 24 on his way out, someone’s got to find a way to keep using it on basketball shoes, right? The Pacers colors, when applied appropriately, are really cool. With a return to form, George appears worthy of some innovative new kicks.
Andrew Wiggins, Wolves
Wiggins, signed to Adidas, has already received his share of cool player edition kicks, and the Timberwolves are certainly a team on the rise. If Wiggins continues to burn brightly while his team, with Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns on board, becomes increasingly visible, his high-flying style is a natural fit here, especially as a swingman (Adidas’ signature athletes are all guards: Derrick Rose, John Wall, Damian Lillard, possibly Harden). If Lillard can get his own shoe playing in Portland, why not Wiggins?
Wiggins would become the first Canadian player ever to have a signature model and the Toronto market would certainly be all in here, so this line could debut in both Wolves and Raptors colorways. He’s got a ways to go to earn it, but the potential from a marketability standpoint is there. Sure, Drake is signed with Jordan Brand, but even he would probably have to acknowledge Wiggins’s kicks in some way—so maybe throw an innocuous black-and-gold version in the mix, for good measure.
If Russell Westbrook can have a fashionable off-court sneaker, why not Swaggy P? This just makes sense. So much sense. There are actually infinite colorway possibilities, given his unpredictability and penchant for fashion risks. Do a high and low top version, a women’s version for all the Iggy fans out there, and just go wild.
And honestly, if they’re cool enough—and how could they not be—Young would probably wear them on the court. That’s built-in marketing value. Remember this is the guy who regularly NikeID’s shoes for games and once wore the very rare Supreme foamposites on-court. The right blend of style and performance (but mostly style) will get them on his feet. And someone will buy them.
The normcore god himself needs to team with Wal-Mart or Target or something post-retirement and just go all out. By all out, I mean as simple and bland as possible. He’s worn pretty simple-looking Adidas his entire career, and now Duncan can recognize his entrepreneurial potential while big box stores no longer have to push loosely-reminiscent knockoff Jordans (but probably still will). If he wants to get crazy, team with Marvel for comic-book inspired colorways like his beloved Punisher—whose color scheme is... yep, still black and white. There’s obviously money to be made and boring, functional, fundamental sneakers to be sold across America. You heard it here first.