One of the players who has been dominating the NBA headlines this season is Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic. Like Russell Westbrook recording triple-doubles daily or Steph Curry shooting the lights out of the gym in recent years prior, nobody can get enough of the 20-year old Slovenian sensation. His stellar performances night after night have led to a meteoric rise in popularity, most evident by his league-leading number of All Star votes. The fans and beat reporters aren’t the only ones noticing, either. Right before the 2019 calendar year came to a close, Jordan Brand officially announced that Doncic would be the latest addition to its roster.
Rumors had been swirling all season about the sneaker free agent’s future destination. Last season, he was one of a handful of young players who helped Nike debut the Adapt BB on the hardwood during his Rookie of the Year campaign. Entering this year as a sneaker free agent, he could be seen earlier this season in a handful of Under Armour Curry models and even the Puma Clyde Hardwood. Many even speculated that the Maryland brand was where he would land before he ultimately flipped the script in favor of the Jumpman.
Doncic has the potential to be a major pickup for Jordan Brand. Not only is he an All Star caliber talent with loads of upside, the Slovenian is also a perfect global ambassador for the brand. Talent aside, his personality makes him just as marketable. When he isn’t hitting stepback threes in the faces of defenders, he keeps a big smile on his. His name is only in headlines for dropping buckets, or taking time during shootaround to meet young fans.
Like this summer’s signing of the ultra-hyped, and unfortunately sidelined, Zion Williamson, this is another step in the right direction for Jordan Brand. The brand is continuing to piece together the new crop of stars that will carry the torch for the upcoming decade as the careers of the previous era led by Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony wind to a close. Westbrook is currently at the forefront for JB, entering the third season of his Why Not signature line, but if things go the way they should, Doncic could be next in line for a sneaker of his own. Given his global reach, Doncic even has the potential to become the new face of the company if he can keep up his high level play on the court.
Doncic’s talent is obviously his main draw. He currently has more 30-point triple-doubles (9) than the rest of the NBA combined (8) does this season. His potential at such a young age has even caused some to anoint him the next LeBron James (let’s not get too carried away, though). He’s certainly a guy the brand should want people to see lacing up its flagship model, the Air Jordan 34, on a nightly basis. But his impact on Jordan Brand extends far beyond his play. Like Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo before him, the young crop of NBA fans has gravitated towards Doncic. His jersey is one of the best sellers in the league. Capturing the interest of the youth is important, and Doncic has certainly done it. Even more important, his European descent gives him a global appeal that cannot be manufactured. Yao Ming from China and former teammate Dirk Nowitzki from Germany are perfect examples of this. He has an entire country (and continent thanks to his prior success in the EuroLeague) cheering for him. Japanese rookie Rui Hachimura is another signing that shows Jordan Brand is clearly valuing its global reach. With a sport as internationally loved as basketball, it should be.
Williamson could be great and the future of the company, but we haven't seen him play yet, so we need to reserve our prediction. Right now Doncic is averaging damn-near a triple double.
Having only been an official member of the Jordan family for a few weeks, Doncic has already been used to help Jordan Brand advertise upcoming product as well. Earlier this month, he strolled down the pregame tunnel in the unreleased “Red Cement” Air Jordan III rumored to drop during All-Star Weekend next month in Chicago. Before signing on the dotted line, he was spotted in a range of popular Air Jordan IVs including the “Doernbecher” and “Toro” colorways. With the microscope that has been put on the pregame outfits in the NBA, don’t expect this trend to slow up either.
Will Doncic’s stellar season lead to MVP honors? We’ll have to wait and see. But either way, welcoming one of the most promising young international talents the NBA has seen in quite some time was the right decision for Jordan Brand to make.