The 2021 NBA Finals feature serious stars on the hardwood, but only one lineup can win the digital battle on social.
If we put in-game talent and athleticism aside for a minute and just look at each player’s social media profiles on Twitter and Instagram, it’s pretty clear which team’s starters are savvier than others.
Suns’ Starters Make Impressions
The Phoenix starting five dominates the Bucks on both social media platforms — thanks largely to the superstardom of Chris Paul.
Paul, who played in his first NBA game a year before Twitter was founded in 2006, boasts the most combined followers out of the bunch. He actually has more followers on Twitter and Instagram than all of the starting five and the official Suns account combined.
Here’s a look at how the Suns’ Social Starting Five Stacks up:
|Chris Paul||10.5 million||8.3 million|
*Social media stats as of July 16, 2021.
Suns backup center Frank Kaminsky gets an honorable mention for his social media savvy. Frank the Tank’s Twitter profile boasts the team’s third-highest follower count ( 212.9K), not to mention an exceptional profile header image of the #1 paper salesman in Scranton.
Bucks’ Starters Are a Mix of Social Studs and Duds
Much like it has been on the court, Milwaukee’s starting five is being kept afloat in the social media showdown thanks to a stellar showing from Giannis.
Much like CP3, Giannis boasts more followers on Instagram and Twitter than the rest of the starters and the official Bucks account combined.
The Bucks starting five social stats suffer, however, as a result of some noticeable no-shows — Brook Lopez appears to have no official accounts on both platforms, and PJ Tucker apparently only cares about Instagram.
Here’s a look at how the Bucks’ Social Starting Five Stacks up:
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||9.2 million||1.6 million|
* Social media stats as of July 16, 2021.
Well, Brook Lopez isn’t exactly pulling his weight, is he? But a notable, unexpected social media bright spot for the Bucks happens to come off the bench — Giannis’ brother, Thanasis.
Despite not getting much playing time, the elder Antetokounmpo boasts the third-highest follower count on Instagram with 777,000.
Social Media Silence Since the Start of the Finals
Not surprisingly, the starting five for each team have gone relatively radio silent during the NBA Finals.
Few, if any, of the starters have tweeted, let alone shared an image on Instagram, since the series began July 6.
Others just can’t resist.
Paul, who has remained fairly active across his social media accounts leading up to the finals, has been relatively quiet since the start of the finals.
One thing he hasn’t been shy about during the series, however, is showing love on Twitter — such as liking some encouraging tweets from his friend and fellow NBA player, LeBron James, or liking a tweet celebrating Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion and hooper Zaila Avant-garde.
Booker, whose Instagram is more fashion than basketball, hasn’t tweeted since a few hours before Game 1 tip-off. That hasn’t stopped him from driving engagements across other platforms, however — according to Opendorse, he’s driving more than twice the engagement of any NBA Finals participant when including Facebook along with Twitter and IG.
And PJ Tucker, who we all know for his impressive collection of sneakers worn throughout the playoffs, hasn’t shared anything on his Instagram account since a June 29 announcement of his sneaker collab with Dolce & Gabbana.
Many of the remaining starters haven’t said a word on social media since before the end of the conference finals.
And with at least a few more games left in the series, we likely shouldn’t expect to see much if anything coming out of both camps anytime soon.
That is until one team hoists up the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy later this month.
Social Media So What?
In the grand scheme of things of NBA stardom, it will always matter most what happens on the court. But when it comes to brand building and player empowerment, performance on social media is paramount.
Measuring social media reach in dollars and cents — like we are starting to do in the ongoing discussion on name, image, and likeness of college athletes— means every follower and every tweet equates to even more money in the bank for NBA players.
And if we apply a value of around $0.80 per Instagram follower, as is used in this article on the value of NIL rights for college athletes, it becomes even more clear just how valuable each starting five is in the social media spectrum.
The Bucks starters combined follower count on Instagram of roughly 10. 7 million is worth roughly $8.6 million.
While the Suns starting five combined follower count of roughly 15.8 million is worth about $12.6 million.
So, yeah, it’s Suns in 4.
($4 million, that is, give or take.)