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The Next Class of Signature Basketball Shoes

Last Updated: June 27, 2023
From Book to Scoot and beyond, which of basketball’s best are most deserving and poised to enter the coveted signature shoe game next? 

Since 1984, signature basketball sneakers have been the engine of the footwear industry. The entire ecosystem of brands around the globe has long looked to replicate the formula of the $5 billion annual Air Jordan business, bestowing signature products on the game’s greats with the hopes of creating a long-term namesake series that too can extend well past one’s playing days.

This past season, 22 players in the NBA had their own signature shoe. In the WNBA, All-Stars Breanna Stewart, Elena Delle Donne and Sabrina Ionescu entered the illustrious signature fold in the last year, bringing the W’s tally to twelve signature athletes in league history.

In looking across the landscape, another 10 players are possibly next up, either with their own franchise already in the works or as a potential target of brands for their own signature shoe down the road. 

For most players, a signature shoe deal is the highest-paying endorsement deal in their portfolio. Contracts can typically run from five to as many as 13 years in length, with active players LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant also holding “lifetime” deals with their respective brands that will extend well past their playing careers.

With a standard 5% royalty on sales of all signature products, a comprehensive incentive bonus structure for on-court performance, and annual base compensation ranging anywhere from $3 million to $15 million per year, a signature shoe deal can pay out north of eight figures each season for the game’s biggest stars.

In making up the two groups — the known and the next — the collection of crossover stars ranges from those entering their prime to others just getting their start in the league. The following is the marketable collective of players next on the horizon and in line for a signature shoe. 

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The Known 

David Berding/Getty Images

Anthony Edwards — Adidas

The former No. 1 pick of the 2020 Draft has been worth the hype, as Anthony Edwards has proven right away to be every bit of the franchise player he was projected to be. Off the court, Edwards’ youthful humor and outsized personality have helped him land a slew of endorsement deals and also made him a scene stealer in last summer’s Adam Sandler-led movie Hustle.

From a marketing sense, he’s slated for a breakout year with Adidas, with his first signature shoe in store for the season ahead. Recently leaked looks showed a glimpse of the sleek and uniquely molded upper of “Ant-Man’s” first shoe, with the rollout planned for the end of the year expected to make Edwards just the 17th NBA player with an Adidas signature shoe. 

Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Austin Reaves — Rigorer 

When Austin Reaves first signed on to be the first NBA endorser of Rigorer in 2022, the rising Lakers wing was looking to help the upstart Chinese basketball shoe brand uplift its category on a global scale. No small task. As his play on the court continued to rise in LA, the brand decided to press go on his own signature shoe.

The sloping low-top AR-1 signature silhouette boasts an efficient and simple design approach and is expected to launch this summer in August. The debut road Laker colorway was a welcome sign for nervous LA fans, as Reaves enters restricted free agency in early July. 

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Scoot Henderson — Puma 

Only eight rookies in league history have had their own signature shoe to start their NBA career; projected top-3 draft pick Scoot Henderson will be the next among that select group. 

The explosive and dynamic point guard first signed a multi-year shoe deal with Puma in June 2022, just after his first season with the G League Ignite but still a full year before he would become draft-eligible this summer. After the frenzy of the Ignite’s marquee Las Vegas matchup against French squad Metropolitan 92, which pitted the 2023 Draft’s potential top two picks in Henderson against the much anticipated Victor Wembanyama, Puma began the process of creating a signature shoe for Scoot’s debut NBA season. The Scoot 1 will be released during the early months of his opening rookie campaign. 

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Devin Booker — Nike 

When Devin Booker signed a new seven-year extension with Nike during the summer of 2022, the updated contract running through 2029 also included the creation of his own signature shoe. A longtime fan of the Kobe Bryant series that’s known for his clean and simple style off the court, Book’s debut signature series is expected to kick off in early 2024, just as the retooled Suns and the scoring star expect to make a push toward contending for a championship. 

The Next 

Steve Marcus/Getty Images

A’ja Wilson 

The A’ir A’ja is overdue. As the marketing around the WNBA’s best continues to ramp up, it’s Wilson specifically that is most deserving of being just the 13th player in league history to receive her own signature shoe. 

The truth of the matter is the 26-year-old reigning league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, AND champion should already have had her own shoe in the works, as she has the game and the personality to lead a signature series. For now, she’s headlining Nike’s Cosmic Unity series for a third consecutive summer — but it’s time for a true Wilson-worn signature shoe.

David Berding/Getty Images

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

Currently, among just a handful of select endorsers at Converse Basketball, the soon-to-be 25-year-old OKC Thunder star guard is a natural fit to be next up among NBA stars for a signature shoe within the Nike Inc. family of brands. 

The three-time First Team All-League Fits member known for his tunnel fashion took his game on the court to another level this past season, adding to his accolades by making the All-Star Game for the first time and being named to the Association’s All-NBA First Team list. Whether with Converse or in a strategic shift back to the Nike side, a ‘Shai’ or ‘SGA’ dubbed sneaker model slotted for the 2026 season would benefit greatly from his unique and fearless fashion sense and taste level.

Already, brands around the industry are circling Gilgeous-Alexander as a top target to try and sign with a massive and comprehensive signature endorsement contract offer, should he enter sneaker free agency when his existing deal is set to expire. 

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Jamal Murray 

After signing on with New Balance in late 2020, Jamal Murray has helmed the brand’s Two Wxy franchise in each of the last three seasons. When discussing the shoe deal with Boardroom just after the contract became official, the topic of his own signature shoe felt within reach for the always confident guard. 

“I don’t think they’re shy about giving me a shoe, especially with the way that I’m playing,” Murray said in early 2021. “I’m not in a rush either. I want to play well when I have a shoe, and I want to back it up. A new shoe could definitely be in the process — it’s just a matter of when, and hopefully it’s soon.”

Fast forward to now, and the Denver Nuggets star has fully bounced back from his ACL tear suffered just weeks after our conversation in April of 2021, returning to form as one of the league’s very best scoring guards, with a runway ahead to expand his marketing profile even further. 

To celebrate his NBA championship last week, New Balance rolled out a Playoffs Finals Champion Murray graphic across social media, which he also wore on a t-shirt during the Nuggets’ celebratory parade. Earlier in the playoffs, he also enjoyed his own PE colorway release of the Two Wxy V3 in a “Spin Cycle” theme. As New Balance’s current signature athlete Kawhi Leonard enters the closing years of his contract with the brand, Murray could be next up as the brand’s future face of its basketball business.

Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

Jalen Green 

As his game continues to advance heading into his third season, instant offense bucket-getter and high flier Jalen Green is expected around the industry to emerge as a rising endorsement star in the sneaker game.

He’s currently signed with Adidas, who prioritized landing Green heading into the 2021 NBA Draft, and looks at the 21-year-old as a future face of the brand currently waiting in the wings behind its existing roster of six signature athletes. Just @Jalen on Instagram, the stylish scorer has also shown an affinity for pulling off some of the most daring looks around the league.

In the two seasons since signing on, Green has been featured in the brand’s “Remember The Why” campaign and helped debut Adidas Originals’ Forum sneaker collaboration with A Bathing Ape. This summer, his mismatched blue and red Philippines-inspired colorway of the BYW Select honoring his family heritage will be released exclusively overseas.

But still, the potential for even more activations and even more push is absolutely there for Green in the coming years. 

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Nikola Jokić

He’s headlined the unironically titled Nike GT Jump series for the last two seasons, and yet, the marketing around “The Joker” still has serious room to grow. Much of the lack of advertising campaigns highlighting the skillful Denver Nuggets center can easily be attributed to Jokić’s reluctance to be promotional — he really does just want to be back home for the summer in Serbia with his family and horses. 

Should the newly crowned champion and reigning Finals MVP change his tune and approach, his goofy and joyful persona would be perfect for comedic spots and campaigns from a variety of potential endorsement partners. 

“Every national commercial you see Boban in, should have Joker in it instead,” an industry marketing executive recently told Boardroom.

On the sneaker front, while big men have historically struggled to move the needle for brands, Jokic does have the branding potential surrounding “The Joker” at his disposal. For years, fans have asked for products bearing his “NJ15” logo which is shaped like a jester’s hat, which to date has only been included on his player-exclusive footwear, but is not available for sale. 

The timing of his first championship and Finals run this spring couldn’t have been better, as his current endorsement deal with Nike is set to expire this fall, creating a marketplace and industry expectation that should a brand look to sign him away from the Swoosh, their offer might need to include a potential path to a Joker signature shoe.

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Victor Wembanyama 

Touted by some as the most anticipated draft prospect to enter the league since LeBron James, French phenom Victor Wembanyama immediately enters the conversation as a potential signature athlete upon his NBA arrival. 

While most expected and anticipated No. 1 draft picks enjoy a bidding war between brands as they inevitably land their rookie shoe deal, Wembanyama is actually already signed to a long-term Nike endorsement deal. The contract was first inked during his pro career in France, and carries over into his early NBA career as well. 

Should he live up to the hype in the league, the do-it-all hooper with an instant global fanbase could jump the totem pole of Nike’s top stars and earn his own signature franchise. 

The “Air Alien” has a hell of a ring to it, should Nike opt for a nicknamed series moniker as it did for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Zoom Freak franchise. Tying back to the otherworldly “alien” description of his game that was stamped by Nike lifer LeBron James would also create a lane for added storytelling around his potential signature series. 

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