Last Thursday’s NBA Draft is considered to be one of the best classes in recent memory, featuring some of the most well-known college basketball players in the country and several potential future NBA All-Stars. The Draft scored its highest ratings in nearly 20 years, and the broadcast overall was ESPN’s top NBA Draft since the year LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony entered the league.
The NBA Draft also made a huge splash on social, with Nielsen Social reporting 2.7 million tweets, making it the most-discussed television program of the evening and the fourth most-talked-about NBA telecast of the year. But what exactly were NBA fans saying about the Draft? According to Canvs, 36% of fans expressed “love” during the NBA Draft - specifically Lakers and Heat fans, who chimed in on the selections of Kentucky’s Julius Randle and UConn’s Shabazz Napier. Among those Twitter users who “loved” the Lakers and Heat picks were Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, both of whom lauded the selections.
11% of reactions were comprised of fans offering congratulations, with many Twitter users using words like “welcome,” “brother,” and “city” in tweets to new draftees, including 15,000 tweets giving props to Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins for being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. 10% of Twitter reactions to the draft were “SMH” (shaking my head), indicating frustration with a team’s draft decision, or with the occasional draftee outfit. (Andrew Wiggins’s suit drew particular scorn from fans.)
“SMH” also spiked during Chicago’s trade for Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Minnesota’s selection of UCLA’s Zach LaVine. (Though many of the reactions to LaVine may have come following his expletive-filled reaction to being selected by the Timberwolves.)
9% of fans were “laughing” at different moments of the draft, including to Joel Embiid’s subdued response to getting drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as Dante Exum’s humorous “Life Changes After The Draft” Foot Locker commercials.
We also looked at the reactions to NBA analyst (and Grantland Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons). 50% of the 6,100 reactions to Bill Simmons were “SMH” (and 5% were “WTF”), as fans criticized his celebration following the Celtics’ selection of James Young and his frustration with the Heat acquiring Shabazz Napier.
But even with all the fresh talent entering the NBA, the night’s true winner may have been NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who had over nearly 34,000 “love” reactions from fans on Twitter. Fans appreciated Silver’s ceremonial selection of Baylor center Isaiah Austin, who was considered a first-round prospect until Marfan’s syndrome cut Austin’s professional basketball career short. Commissioner Silver invited Austin to the NBA Draft festivities as his guest, and then “selected” Austin with a ceremonial pick, tugging on the heartstrings of the fans watching at home. The touching moment resonated with many on Twitter, and helped make the 2014 NBA Draft a night to remember.
Tweet Source: Nielsen. Relevant Tweets captured from three hours before, during, and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, local time