Thursday , Jul , 05 , 2007 Oly Sandor

The NBA’s Most Marketable Rookie: Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Joakim Noah, or Yi Jianlian?

The Oden or Durant argument will go on for a long-time … But a new debate has emerged: who’s the NBA’s most marketable rookie? … Oden and Durant hold their own, but what about Noah or Yi? Click here for news and analysis …

Darren Rovell reports on the most marketable players taken in last week’s NBA draft:

Biggest Marketing Loser: Yi Jianlian to Milwaukee:

Right behind Greg Oden and Kevin Durant this guy qualified as the third most marketable guy in the draft because of the size of the market in China. Throw that out the door now. Milwaukee is pretty much the absolute worst city he could be in since there’s nothing close to a Chinese market in Milwaukee. Check out this stat. There aren’t enough Chinese Americans living in Milwaukee to even fill up the Bradley Center (18,717).

According to the 2003 Census, the last numbers I could get, there were 586,000 people living in Milwaukee. Only 2.9 percent of those residents (15,236 people) were Asian. It’s why Yi didn’t work out for them and why he might not show up there on Friday. (Update: It’s now been confirmed that Yi won’t show up). I somehow don’t think Midwest Airlines is considering applying for that Milwaukee to Beijing route.

Biggest Marketing Winner: Joakim Noah to Chicago:

Noah is clearly the best personality of the draft. He’s very well known from his championship winning college career, he has the famous name and he’s unique looking – you have to love that hair and that bow tie. Put that all together with the nation’s No. 2 market and you have Noah potentially boosting his marketing payday. One deal he’ll immediately cash in on is a shoe deal, as he still hasn’t signed with any brand. I asked Noah how he thought Chicago would help out his earning potential and he said this: "Oh, I feel so marketable, you have no idea. I’m so marketable; yes. That’s exactly why I wanted to go to Chicago; to be marketable."

But there’s no way he can’t be marketable given that he clearly had the most entertaining news conference. The highlight? When he mentioned that he hated Bulls general manager John Paxson because of what he did to his childhood favorite Knicks back in the day.

Oden vs. Durant – Off The Court:

If I needed to draft a guy based on personality, I’d clearly take Oden right now. The guy really has a chance to take over for Shaq in terms of marketability if he can lead Portland to success. Oden said last night that before shaking hands with NBA commissioner David Stern, he used hand sanitizer because he "didn’t want to get Mr. Stern sick." When a reporter referenced the trouble with the Trail Blazers, he revealed that he had a 1:30 pm curfew. I don’t know if he was nervous, but Durant was pretty vanilla to me. Jerseys of both Oden (No. 52) and Durant (No. 35) hit stores today.

My Quick Take: Rovell has written an interesting article. I agree isn’t a great place for Yi to leverage his Chinese background into marketing dollars. But who cares? He’s damaging his image by forcing a trade. Call me naive, but I still believe the game of basketball is more important than the business of basketball. Plain and simple, Yi should report to the Bucks.

I like Noah’s personality more than his game. The suit. The bow tie. The hair. The off-the-cuff comments. It’s great to see. I’m just not sure Scott Skiles, ‘s old school coach, will think it’s so great.

Oden and Durant both have character. The big center has a great sense of humor. Don’t sleep on Durant’s personality. The athletic swing doesn’t take himself too seriously and laughed off his mom wiping his face on national television to HoopVibe’s Lance Walton.

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