How Many Rosters Spots in the NBA Are There for Non-Nike Guys?

  • There are thirty NBA franchises.

    17 players on a roster.

    510 Total Roster Spots.

    80 percent of players coming through the Power AAU teams reputedly play for Nike sponsored Power AAU teams.

    Let’s multiply that 80% figure times the 510 roster spots to get an approximate, estimated share of the roster slots that are likely controlled by Nike.

    That leaves 102 potential slots for non Nike brand players.

    Now, if you are an NBA General Manager and you want to make sure that when you draft a Nike lean player from a Nike contracted school with a Nike contracted D1 coach, that that Nike lean player signs with you, rather than insists on a trade, what kind of players are you apt to want to fill the 20 percent of your slots with? Are you going to want to sign still more Nike players, to show your good faith with the swoosh, or non Nike players, especially if its a wash between the Nike player and the non Nike player?

    Well, if its a wash, I’m going to guess you sign Nike players when ever you can to show your loyalty to the Swoosh and so make your team a happy bunch of Nike campers, and so to be confident that you will sign the next high draft choice, rather than see him seek a trade.

    But let’s say its only a wash about, oh, I don’t know, lets be really conservative and say its only a wash about half the time. Let’s say the rest of the time the non-Nike player decisively better.

    The above set of assumptions means that in any given year, there are really only about 51 NBA slots open for non Nike players and they have to be clearly better than the Nike alternative. A wash, the assumptions indicate, mean the Nike player get the slot.

    51 slots divided by 30 franchises indicates an estimated 1.7 roster slots per franchise for non Nike players.

    But it doesn’t stop there.

    I haven’t looked lately but Under Armor has reportedly been increasing its cut of the 20 percent that adidas used to dominate. Let’s be upbeat and estimate adidas accounts for 3 out of 4 of the non Nike players; that 75%. That means adidas guys can expect to a shot at 1.275 roster slots per franchise.

    No wonder KU guys have so much trouble hanging on in the L and no wonder they tend to have to move around frequently in order to stay very long. They might be competing for as few as 1.275 available roster slots/franchise.

    Now, I realize that the 1.275 number available to adidas leans could vary some from year to year. It could wiggle up a little when adidas uncorks one of its massive endorsement contracts that temporarily draws more players to sign with adidas. And it could wiggle down when Under Armor does the same.

    But however you slice it, it appears to be kind of tiny window of opportunity for non Nike guys.

    Unless my assumptions are wildly off the mark, which they could be. I just did them on the back of a virtual bar napkin.

    Maybe someone has the percentage breakdown of roster spots by shoe brand handy. If so, I look forward seeing the actual numbers.

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