October 28, 2016
The 2016-17 season has just begun and the NBA is flush with talent, flush with cash, flush with storylines, and…
Flush with search interest.
While fans and GMs are (rightfully) more concerned with who’s winning the battle of the boards or shooting the best from the 3-point line, we’re more concerned with who’s winning the Internet.
We already know that players take their NBA 2K video game ratings seriously… so is it possible that players could get fired up over their (lack of) Google search volume? Is it really that hard to imagine Metta World Peace storming into the Cloud and tussling with all the fans who prefer to throw beers at him instead of Googling his name?
In a league that is placing more and more emphasis on advanced statistical analysis, we thought it would be fun to have some decidedly non-advanced “analysis” of NBA player search interest and find out who the NBA Internet Champions from last year really were.
Literally Champions of the World
Some people chafe at the idea of anointing the NBA title winners “World Champions,” but last season, everything ended up belonging to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With 43.8 million combined player searches during the season, the Cavs find themselves, again, just a bit ahead of the Golden State Warriors (38.6 million searches).
The next four spots are logically occupied by the three biggest markets, with the New York Knicks (17.2M) leading the way, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers (15.6M), Chicago Bulls (12.5M), and Los Angeles Clippers (12.3M).
Safely in last place, and perhaps surprisingly, are the Nuggets from Denver with a paltry 3.2 million total searches (fewer searches in a year than the Cavs do in a month). Reasons for this low number might include a Denver roster with several international players, lack of national TV games, or simply that Denverites tend to Google other things.
Party like it’s 1988
With over 52 million combined searches from last season, the Class of 1988 is far and away the most popular “class” in the NBA, thanks largely in part to stars like Kevin Durant (9.9M), Russell Westbrook (5.4M), and Steph Curry (9.9M).
At first glance, it looked like the Class of 1984 (LeBron, Carmelo, etc.) was going to take second place, but it’s safe to assume that when people search for “Bobby Brown” that their prerogative isn’t actually to find the Houston Rockets’ Bobby Brown. Lo siento, Rocket Bobby, but two can play that game.
With 1984 out of the way, it was all too easy for the Class of 1990 to swoop in and steal the Internet silver medal for popularity, anchored by Draymond Green (6.6M), Klay Thompson (6.6M), and Damian Lillard (1.98M).
Six-foot-three is the place to be
Rhymes equal truth, and the league is currently stocked with talent at the 6’3” level, from Steph Curry to Russell Westbrook to Kyrie Irving. With a combined 45.6 million searches, searches for the 6-foot-3 crowd stand tall over the second place 6’7” group (38.8M).
What’s even more impressive is that the “Little Guys” only needed the combined search volume of 29 players to secure their piece of the pie, whereas those darn gangly 6-foot-7ers needed the help of 42 men.
For all the numerology nerds
23, 0, 30, 7, 2, 8, 25.
No, grandma ain’t playing Powerball (well, yeah, she probably is).
These are the jersey numbers associated with the players with the most search volume (and possibly the most irrelevant stat of all time). No one should be surprised by #23 (LeBron) or #30 (Curry), but I doubt many people would have guessed #0 being in second place. That is, until you realize that twenty-two players wear the #0, second only in jersey number popularity to #5.
A Brazilian Glitch in the Matrix
According to Keyword Planner, Nene (the low-post artist formerly known as Nene Hilario) has been searched for a total of 0 times over the past three years, which I know to be untrue because the entire point of becoming a Madonna, a Seal, or a Bartman is so that people can remember, reference, and find you in a hurry and prevent you from going to any World Series baseball games. (Godspeed, Cubbies, godspeed.)
My gut and heart tell me that Nene is nowhere close to being the NBA’s most irrelevant player on the Internet, and that crowning Nicolas Brussino (BrussinWHO?) with that title makes much more sense with his season search interest at the 240 mark.
The Most Interesting Stat of the Day
I know, I know… you’ve been dying to find out which player offers the best bang for the buck when it comes to search, and a simple ratio of search volume to salary gives us our answer.
(OK, so it’s Bobby Brown again but we’ll just continue to ignore that).
The REAL winner is… Metta World Peace! Finding his vindication, “The Artest, Formerly Known As” enjoyed just under 900k searches against his veteran’s minimum salary of 980k, bringing his Searches Per Dollar to a supremely respectable .91 SPD. Only time will tell if he can hold onto that title. Or to his name.
With the NBA season in its infancy…
And with record-breaking NBA contracts being handed out like golden parachutes…
And with our death grips essentially turning our smartphones into wearables…
It stands to reason that this season might see more NBA player search interest than ever before. Will the Cavs repeat as search champs? Will Anthony Davis finally break into the top 20 most searched players? Will people learn how to spell Kawhi Leonard? We’ll just have to wait and find out.