Which NBA Players Are Signed with PUMA?

While not nearly as big as brands like Adidas and Nike, Puma made its name known throughout several large sporting organizations over the past few years.

They came into the NBA in a big way recently, and, due to contracts with high-profile players, show no signs of slowing down.

They have managed their recent success due to a unique sponsorship approach, as well as smart allocation of resources.

This article will look at both by studying who they have contracts with and how those contracts came to be.

Puma’s Big Name

Anyone familiar with shoes or the NBA knows that Puma, while big, is not a household name. They tried to break onto the professional basketball scene during the early 2000’s, but quickly lost their athletes to the other big shoe companies everyone knows.

They stayed that way for the 2000’s and most of the 2010’s. While they had some success here and there, they just couldn’t quite break in. That was, until 2018. That year, Puma went from having no big athletes to many big names. They did it by completely changing their strategy.

A Slew of Rookies

In 2018, rather than going after big names or more established players, Puma targeted rookies. That’s not something completely unheard of, but it marked a big change for the brand that led to instant success within the NBA.

That year, they signed DeAndre Ayton (Suns), Marvin Bagley (Kings), Kevin Knox (Knicks), Zhaire Smith (76ers), and Michael Porter Jr (Nuggets). 

Not only that, but they locked up all five of the players to multi-year deals. That showed they were in it for the long haul.

Signing five NBA rookies in one draft turned Puma from a fringe shoe company to a much more serious professional brand in one fell swoop. They got a foothold in the NBA, and one they have only improved on since.

Building a Bigger Brand

While all of the above five signings helped push Puma forward, the largest one was easily DeAndre Ayton. The number one overall draft pick broke the mold by going with the company, and set a new precedent that didn’t exist before he came into the NBA.

At just 19, Ayton signed a four-year non-disclosed million dollar deal. While it seemed unorthodox, the Bahamian loved the brand growing up due to its association with Usain Bolt. Even since then, he wanted to join up.

While Bagley hasn’t seen the same on-court success as Ayton, his deal also pushed Puma into the spotlight. They paid him $2 to $3 million per year, giving him the biggest rookie shoe contract since Durant signed his $60 million contract with Nike back in 2007.

The Other (Two) Big Players

Since taking five of the top 16 picks back in 2018, Puma has exploded onto the NBA scene in a big way. They now have a slew of other NBA players using their shoes, including Kendrick Nunn, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Rudy Gay, and Danny Green.

Their recent signings have given them 19 total players, most of which are pretty big names. However, none are bigger than Kyle Kuzma and LaMelo Ball.

Kuzma is notable because he was the first player to join Team Puma who wasn’t on a rookie contract. That shows, while their focus remains on rookies and new players, they don’t mind going after more established players when the time comes.

That shift is a big deal for Puma because it means they can start to branch out in a way they haven’t been able to over the past few decades. Even if Kuzma isn’t a star, setting the precedent of going after more established players is a big deal if Puma wants to expand.

LaMelo is their other huge signing. The little Ball brother exploded onto the scene in the 2020 NBA draft, and has been one of the most exciting players in the league. He has lived up to the hype, and Puma was not afraid to take a chance on him.

His deal is reported to be gigantic, especially compared to other Puma deals. There are many figures floating around, and some go as high as $100 million. Whatever he made from the shoes, it’s certainly gigantic.

Final Words

Everyone knows that getting into the shoe game, especially at the NBA level is incredibly hard. However, Puma managed to carve their own niche by taking a completely new approach to the entire signing process.

Going after rookies, especially high prospects with a lot of unproven talent, has paid off in a big way. Now that they have the power to go after more established players, there’s no telling where they might strike next. 

As they also have 17-year old Mikey Williams under contract, whatever they do it’s sure to be something unique that once again changes the entire game.

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