The Sneaker Showdown: Which Brand Has the Best Team?

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The Sneaker Showdown: Which Brand Has the Best Team?

Sneaks
Nicole Sweet - US PRESSWIRE

It certainly has been an eventful off season for the NBA. There were some interesting contracts signed, including one that paired up Dwyane Wade and Metta World Peace and another that paired up Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. But I’m not talking about NBA contracts, I’m talking about ones signed by sneaker brands with NBA players.

Just this week, Wade left the Jordan Brand for the lesser known, but on the rise, Li-Ning. To replace D-Wade, Jordan has inked a deal with Oklahoma City’s all-star PG, Westbrook. Derrick Rose, returning from his torn ACL in last year’s playoffs, released the third shoe in his “adiRose” Adidas series, the adiRose3, featuring a new logo that is stamped the shoe itself and the clothing line that was released along with it. At a shoe release interview, Rose broke down into tears, thanking his fans for their support and thanking everyone who was helped him get to where he is. The interviewer told Rose that it was because of, “moments like that you have so many fans.”

Nearly every elite NBA player is signed with a top level shoe brand. The swapping of Wade and Westbrook, who actually was believed to be on the verge of signing with Adidas, got me wondering: Which brand has the best team? I’m not talking about marketability, personality or sales; I am talking about basketball ability. I ranked the top shoe brands from weakest to strongest in order of which brand I think has the best squad. Who do you think the top brand is? (I counted Jordan, which is really a subsidiary of Nike, as its own separate entity and brand). Check out my rankings:

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5. Reebok

Reebok
Geoff Burke - US PRESSWIRE

Team Reebok:

John Wall

Isaiah Thomas

Jason Terry

Jameer Nelson

Ramon Sessions

Outside of John Wall’s “Zigtech” line of sneakers, Reebok hasn’t made a lot of noise in the shoe game in recent memory. However, with a young team of guards that includes Isaiah Thomas and Jameer Nelson, backed by the veteran Jason Terry, their brand could grow considerably over the course of the next few years.

John Wall went from unknown prospect to college phenom, at Kentucky, nearly over night. His line of “Zigtech” shoes are extremely popular, and are said to be energizing: “an energy drink for your feet.” Jameer Nelson, another young PG, could begin to make a name for himself now that he no longer plays under the shadow of, both literally and figuratively, the massive Dwight Howard.

Isaiah Thomas is an up and coming PG for the rising Sacramento Kings, which in addition to the Washington University native, have Jimmer Fredette , Tyreke Evans, and DeMarcus Cousins headlining their young roster. Sacramento’s youth will be something to watch this year, as the team sets out to compete in the Pacific West.

Team Reebok may very well jump ahead of other brands in the future, but for now they are last in my ranking.

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4. Li-Ning

Li-Ning
Steve Mitchell - US PRESSWIRE

Team Li-Ning:

Dwyane Wade

Metta World Peace

Baron Davis

Hasheem Thabeet

Evan Turner

Dwyane Wade is a trendsetter. He rarely does what anyone thinks he will, and his signing with Li-Ning is no different. You may be wondering why he would leave Jordan for a brand that is not known to many people. Well, guess what? I’m wondering the same thing.

I have no idea why Wade would make that move, except for one possibility: he wants to be the main guy. It’s understandable for Wade to want the spotlight after conceding the reigns to the href="http://www.rantsports.com/nba/teams/miami-heat/">Miami Heat to the MVP, LeBron James. But, Li-Ning? We will see how this pays off for D-Wade.

Metta World Peace and Evan Turner, who has the upside to be a franchise player for the Philadelphia 76ers, are also signed to Li-Ning. Baron Davis of the New York Knicks and Hasheem Thabeet, the former standout center at UCONN, rounds off the squad branching from one of China’s most prominent shoe brands.

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3. Adidas

Adidas
David Banks - US PRESSWIRE

Team Adidas:

Derrick Rose

Dwight Howard

Austin Rivers

Tim Duncan

Josh Smith

For argument’s sake, let’s say that the Chicago Bulls'sDerrick Rose, with rumors swirling that he may not even play this season, is healthy. Along with Rose, who is among the best PGs in the NBA, and Dwight Howard, who many believe to be the best big man in the game, Adidas signed rookie Austin Rivers. Rivers has the potential to become a superstar over the next few years. He has the personality, the swagger, the confidence, and the game to become a face of the league, along with fellow New Orleans Hornets rookie, Anthony Davis (of Nike).

Tim Duncan is not a name that often comes up in sneaker conversations. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Hey man, did you see those new Duncan’s?” Probably never. But the San Antonio Spurs' Duncan is a member of the Adidas team, despite his low profile image and private, nonpublic lifestyle. Say what you will about his marketability, but Duncan can still play, and is sure to be a member of the Hall of Fame when he hangs up his shoes.

How could Adidas be Number 3 on the list with D-Rose and Howard? Is that possible? Yes, because, despite Adidas’s star power, the brand above it may not beat them in sales, but is superior and in talent.

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2. Jordan

Jordan
Kim Klement - US PRESSWIRE

Team Jordan:

Chris Paul

Carmelo Anthony

Russell Westbrook

Joe Johnson

Jared Sullinger

I know that Jordan is owned by Nike. But that doesn’t diminish the popularity of the brand and the cult like following that it is has, not to mention the chaos that often can be found at the site of a shoe release.

In Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Joe Johnson, and rookie Jared Sullinger, the Jordan team would be able to put up a good game against any of the other brands. The Los Angeles Clippers' CP3, New York Knicks' Anthony, and Oklahoma City Thunder's Westbrook are all 2012 Olympic Gold Medalists, and NBA superstars. Johnson is sometimes referred to as a “superstar,” but in reality he is not; he is a quality NBA player, and will be a contributing factor in the outcome of the Brooklyn Nets’ season, but is not on the elite level of his backcourt teammate Deron Williams, who is also a Jordan sponsor.

Who could be better than a team containing CP3, ‘Melo, and Westbrook? I’ll give you a hint: It’s the brand that Jordan answers to.

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1. Nike

Nike
Joe Toth - US PRESSWIRE

Team Nike:

LeBron James

Kevin Durant

Kobe Bryant

Rajon Rondo

Anthony Davis

Clearly, Nike has the best team, and also has the most value of all companies at $25 billion. In LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant, the brand has arguably the three best players in the NBA. None of the other brands would really stand a chance in a game.

Rajon Rondo, who has been honing his jump shot, could join the ranks of that elite trio this season if he adds a consistent outside shot to his already immense offensive repertoire. Last year, against James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Championship, Rondo dropped 44 points on 14-21 shooting, and added 8 rebounds and 10 assists. When he makes his jump shots, he is nearly impossible to guard. However, he is only a 24.1% 3PT shooter, despite shooting a solid 48% from the field.

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets has also inked a deal with Nike before ever playing an NBA game. However, Nike sees star potential in Davis, who could become the face of the league in the coming years. Davis’s ability to dominate a game without scoring, as he did for Kentucky in the National Championship Game, is reminiscent of James, although his game has a long way to go before reaching the likes of the “King.”

Nike, which accounts for roughly 95% of shoes on the market, is the most prominent of all shoe brands. Adding the three best basketball players in the world doesn't hurt their credibility, either!

Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for NBA news, rumors, updates, thoughts, and opinions

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