Four of the top-six draft picks who were selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft have signed on to form partnerships with Adidas. Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Marcus Smart have all been added to the star-studded collective of NBA players who are members of the Adidas family. Wiggins was the No. 1 overall pick in the June 26 draft; he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Embiid, who was a teammate of Wiggins at Kansas during their one year of playing college basketball together, was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers; he was the No. 3 overall pick. Exum, the Australian phenom, was taken by the Utah Jazz with the fifth-overall pick. Finally, Smart, who had a stellar career as the starting point guard for Oklahoma State, was taken by the Boston Celtics with the sixth-overall pick. Exum was the first of the four to sign with Adidas, followed by Wiggins. Embiid and Smart soon followed afterward.
The four promising rookies join a family that already includes pro-basketball players such as five-time NBA champion Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, 2013 NBA rookie of the year Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers, All-Star center Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, 2014 Slam Dunk Contest winner John Wall of the Washington Wizards, 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and 2014 defensive player of the year Joakim Noah, who also plays for the Bulls. Duncan, Howard, Wall and Rose are all former No. 1 picks in the NBA draft. Lillard and Noah were No. 6 and No. 9 overall picks, respectively.
2014 has turned out to be a big year so far for the Adidas brand. In addition to its new NBA signees, the brand also managed to strike up a deal with former Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins, who was one of the top NFL draft prospects this year, was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the fourth-overall pick back in May. Former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, who was taken in the second round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers, also struck up a deal with Adidas.
For those who don’t know, in addition to the NBA and NFL, the Adidas brand also has a unique and extensive history with hip-hop culture. Therefore, professional athletes are not the only ones building business relationships with Adidas; hip-hop recording artists are as well. Less than a year ago, for example, Chicago rapper Kanye West, who is a fan of the aforementioned Derrick Rose, turned heads when he signed with Adidas after abruptly leaving his partnership with Nike. Similarly, Detroit rapper Big Sean, who is a fan and supporter of the Detroit Pistons, is also a partner with Adidas. Big Sean and Adidas have previously collaborated on shoes; West’s deal with the company will allow him to do the same. Big Sean is actually one of many artists signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music record label, and the two frequently collaborate with each other on music.
Based on the outcomes of the careers of NBA players who have signed deals with Adidas, it is safe to bet that these latest rookies are primed for success on the basketball court. The stage is set and all eyes are on them. Be on the lookout for Wiggins, Embiid, Exum and Smart as Adidas begins releasing new shoes and apparel in the near future.