The 10 Most Popular NBA Stars According To Science

We used Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and science to determine which NBA stars get the most love.

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Who are the most popular players in the NBA today?

We see NBA stars almost everywhere today – from live games and highlights to Twitter and Facebook. These amazing athletes are among the best recognized in the world. It seems that their exposure is increasing each day and certain NBA players are a step above the competition. We set out to measure exactly which players are the most popular right now.

1. Lebron James

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 1st
Weekly YouTube Videos: 1st
Total Twitter Mentions: 2nd
Facebook Page Likes: 1st

The King reigns supreme! There’s absolutely no surprise here as Lebron continues to dominate the NBA on and off the court. In all arenas, James continues to be a step ahead of the competition.

The 4-time NBA MVP just signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike and stole the show in a hit Hollywood movie. Lebron (or his PR person) deserves a ton of credit here as he continues to amass fans across all types of social media.

2. Kobe Bryant

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 5th
Weekly YouTube Videos: 3rd
Total Twitter Mentions: 1st
Facebook Page Likes: 2nd

Kobe’s farewell tour continues across all media platforms. Much like in his actual games this year, Kobe’s popularity is based as much on legacy as current performance. He has fallen off a bit in hourly and weekly mentions. But, Kobe still holds a career edge on the competition, coming in 1st in total Twitter mentions and 2nd in facebook page followers.

Savor it while it lasts, Kobe fans!

3. Stephen Curry

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 10th
Weekly YouTube Videos: 2nd
Total Twitter Mentions: 3rd
Facebook Page Likes: 6th

Stephen Curry, the consummate underdog, continues to prove his doubters wrong. It’s hard to believe at this point, but Steph Curry was not even recruited by major college programs. (Check out this nice recap of his early career if you have trouble believing it at this point.)

Off the court, Steph has also been a consistent source of joy for fans across many media platforms. We imagine that Curry would rank even higher on this list during many times of the week given his proclivity for meme-worthy highlights.

Number 3 might be a little low for the reigning MVP, but we anticipate that he will use it as continued motivation to prove everyone wrong…again!

4. Kyrie Irving

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 7th
Weekly YouTube Videos: 4th
Total Twitter Mentions: 9th
Facebook Page Likes: 14th

Even though he is playing under the immense shadow of Lebron, Kyrie continues to shine in his own right. Irving has legendary basketball handles that lead to many highlight videos, dating back to his high school playing days.

With such highlight-worthy game, it is no wonder that Kyrie ranks high in hourly and weekly measures of popularity. He still has some work to do on his lifetime numbers, so perhaps he can learn some off-the-court lessons from King James as well.

5. Kristaps Porzingis

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 2nd
Weekly YouTube Videos: 6th
Total Twitter Mentions: 4th
Facebook Page Likes: 27th

The Latvian rookie, Kristaps Porzingis, has made a huge splash on the court and the internet this year. KP is garnering a ton of attention across the world. From his hometown to the Big Apple, he is a certified hit so far.

KP’s social media popularity reflects this quick rise, with big numbers on Twitter and YouTube. KP has not been around for very long, thus, it’s no surprise that his Facebook page is lagging behind players with years of experience and exposure. If he keeps up the pace, Kristaps will top this list in no time.

6. Kevin Durant

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 23rd
Weekly YouTube Videos: 5th
Total Twitter Mentions: 8th
Facebook Page Likes: 4th

Add this to the list of Kevin Durant’s list of underachievements. If KD is tired of finishing 2nd, he surely will not like his 6th place ranking on this list. After signing his own huge deal with Nike, KD was quickly overshadowed by Lebron’s lifetime deal.

In the same fashion, KD continues to fall a little behind his elite competition in popularity. He boasts very good overall numbers and should be proud of his great effort, even if he lost again.

7. Pau Gasol

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 3rd
Weekly YouTube Videos: 20th
Total Twitter Mentions: 10th
Facebook Page Likes: 8th

Perhaps the biggest surprise of this list, Pau maintains a large Facebook following and manages to stay relevant on Twitter. He does not routinely make great highlights worthy of YouTube videos. Even so, the 14-year vet is one of the oldest players on this list, 2nd only to Kobe Bryant in the top 10. Way to go, old man!

8. Carmelo Anthony

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 6th
Weekly YouTube Videos: 10th
Total Twitter Mentions: 21st
Facebook Page Likes: 5th

Carmelo Anthony, overrated or underrated? It all depends on your perspective. Melo is having one of the lowest scoring years of his career, yet is the unquestioned superstar and leader of the New York Knicks.

We wonder, though: how does Melo feel about falling to 2nd place on his team in popularity, behind the rookie Kristaps Porzingis? Anthony has truly transitioned to a supporting role on and off the court. We only hope he has a fun hat for the occasion.

9. Kawhi Leonard

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 4th
Weekly YouTube Videos: 14th
Total Twitter Mentions: 6th
Facebook Page Likes: 23rd

Which NBA player is the silent social-media superstar? Kawhi Leonard.

On the court, Kawhi manages to make a sizeable impact while garnering almost no attention. Fittingly, his Wikipedia page still does not even feature a photo from his NBA playing days. Yet, those who really know basketball notice and appreciate his quiet efficiency. That’s how he won the NBA Finals MVP in 2014.

It is also how he manages to maintain a Top 10 popularity with barely any memorable quotes. Kawhi does not generate Facebook fans or highlight videos, but those on Twitter keep him on this Top 10 list with regular reminders of his solid play.

10. Klay Thompson

Source: Wikipedia

Hourly Twitter Mentions: 13th
Weekly YouTube Videos: 9th
Total Twitter Mentions: 11th
Facebook Page Likes: 16th

Klay Thompson rounds out the top 10 in solid, consistent fashion. While Klay is clearly the less impressive of the splash brothers, he is a force to be reckoned with in his own right.

Don’t forget, Klay broke a 37-year record last year by scoring 37 points in one quarter, captured in this awesome collection of highlights. He also commands a solid social media fanbase.

Thompson has consistent numbers across all platforms, representing a healthy mix of highlight-worthy play and long-term fans. Along with Steph Curry, Klay makes the Golden State Warriors one of three teams with multiple players on this top 10 list.

How We Measured NBA Star Power

How do we measure popularity in 2016? Using social media and the internet, of course. We have calculated the 10 most popular NBA players across a number of social media platforms. Across Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, here are the 10 most mentioned, followed, liked, and recorded stars of the week

We attempted to incorporate overall and current popularity by looking at hourly, weekly, and lifetime metrics of social media popularity. This represents a snapshot from a moment in time, likely to change in the future. Some of our results are as expected, but others might leave you a bit surprised.

Remember, these rankings only represent one snapshot in time – a glimpse into how NBA players are perceived across Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Players will almost certainly shift on this list regularly. We will continue to track these rankings to see how things change over time.

Rankings Table

Player # Youtube Videos/ Week (1/9 – 1/16/16) Hourly Twitter Mentions(1/16/16) Total Twitter Mentions Facebook Page Likes
Lebron James 1 1 1 2 1
Kobe Bryant 2 3 5 1 2
Stephen Curry 3 2 10 3 6
Kyrie Irving 4 4 7 9 14
Kristaps Porzingis 5 6 2 4 27
Kevin Durant 6 5 23 8 4
Pau Gasol 7 20 3 10 8
Carmelo Anthony 8 10 6 21 5
Kawhi Leonard 9 14 4 6 23
Klay Thompson 10 9 13 11 16
Chris Paul 11 13 26 7 7
Dramond Green 12 12 8 5 28
Dwyane Wade 13 8 28 18 3
James Harden 14 7 27 12 N/A
Damian Lillard 15 11 12 29 13
DeMar DeRozan 16 16 14 23 17
Chris Bosh 17 19 21 25 12
Tony Parker 18 18 31 20 11
Andrew Bogut 19 27 15 14 25
Harrison Barnes 20 31 18 13 20
Iman Shumpert 21 30 9 27 18
Blake Griffin 22 17 29 30 9
Paul Pierce 23 23 19 33 10
Manu Ginobili 24 29 25 19 15
Hassan Whiteside 25 21 16 22 30
David Lee 26 33 17 17 N/A
Andre Drummond 27 34 11 16 29
DeMarcus Cousins 28 15 33 24 19
Tim Duncan 29 26 30 15 21
Kyle Lowry 30 22 22 26 N/A
Rudy Gay 31 25 24 32 24
Matthew Dellavedova 32 28 32 28 26
MarShon Brooks 33 35 20 31 N/A
Brandon Jennings 34 24 35 35 22
Josh Smith 35 32 34 34 N/A

Note: Facebook page likes for players without confirmed or official-appearing pages were not counted in these rankings and are marked N/A on this summary table.

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