The Best NBA Schedule Release Content, Ranked

The NBA released its full 2018-19 schedule Friday.  As has become an annual tradition, digital content departments released a variety of fun and unique content pieces to distribute the schedule to their fans.  I went through all 30 teams’ schedule release content pieces on Twitter and ranked them.

You probably didn’t see all of these because the NBA, for God knows what reason, moved away from a mid-week schedule release in the evening and instead buried it on a Friday afternoon as if it was a news dump.  There’s a lot of good content that teams put out Friday that didn’t get the engagement it deserved specifically because of the NBA’s timing.  Other aspects of the business, such as advertising, marketing and ticket sales were also left in a bind as 4 p.m. ET on Friday makes for a less-than-ideal time to market and sell.  In any event, the rankings are below.

One note I must make: Having been in this world for 5+ seasons, I can tell you that there is endless internal red tape when it comes to making a creative idea come to fruition.  These rankings in no way reflect the talent in the content & social departments of these respective teams.  There may have been (and likely were) great ideas that couldn’t be executed for one reason or another, so I’m not judging.  But I did want to acknowledge who I thought nailed it.

1) Portland Trail Blazers

I honestly didn’t know which tweet to feature because both are brilliant in their own way.  The Oregon Trail concept has been done before but is still good and on brand for a team from that state, and the animation team tweaked it to be unique to the schedule rather than the straightforward game.  And then there are the artist drawings of jerseys, which is brilliantly simple, offers a gentle troll and provides a recap of free agency.

2) Atlanta Hawks

I may be biased here, but the Hawks’ content supremacy carries on.  While using Spotify playlists to tell stories is nothing new for brands, including the Hawks, it’s very difficult to find 82 unique songs that represent each opponent.  This time around, the Hawks and Spotify have an official partnership, so the playlist will appear all season.

3) Sacramento Kings

Playing off iconic film & TV moments is always a winner if done right, and as usual, the Kings nailed the scriptwriting.  At three-and-a-half minutes, it did go on a little long.

4) Chicago Bulls

The Bulls used the CTA lines for a fun visual of the schedule.  There’s also a video animation on their Twitter timeline showing each train car as a different month.  The only knock is the small font, though it’s tough to make it any bigger with 82 games listed.  Well done Chicago.

5) Golden State Warriors

This one was so overwhelming, I don’t even know where to begin.  The positives: player involvement, a nod to San Francisco, “Dubflix”, the text thread, the social timeline.  Negatives: the fact that my brain is going to explode because I consumed so much in a short amount of time.

6) Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets’ Pac-Man inspired animation is glorious.  The date appears once Rocky has “eaten” the opponent.  While the opponent logos can be hard to make out at times, the overall concept is executed nicely.

7) Houston Rockets

The Rockets are the team that can move up or down on this list depending on how the rest of their content shakes out.  It appears they’re going the route of Photoshopping movie posters for marquee games, and if so, there’s a lot of potential there.  They’ve only released two so far (and they didn’t thread them, that’s a miss), so stay tuned?

8) Toronto Raptors

A fast-moving first person POV-style camcorder shot showing the various marquee games alongside iconic city landmarks was well-done.  Props to the video editing team for keeping me engaged throughout.

9) Utah Jazz

The Jazz mocked up a fake Instagram Story in which they conversed with opponents’ Instagram channels through unique Story features to lay out the schedule.  It’s a cool and different way to approach it, but it’s not actually on their Story.  A better payoff would have been to have something on their Story to at least acknowledge what their Twitter followers saw.

10) Phoenix Suns

The Suns took a similar approach as the Jazz, and I have a similar reaction: it’s cool and clever to show a fake social conversation around the schedule, but the fact that it’s fake leaves me wanting a little more.

11) Detroit Pistons

The Pistons used their mascot Hooper to shoot some skits around different matchups.  This was cleverly done and nicely threaded.  My favorite is him spilling the girl’s lucky charms.

12) Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets played with trading cards to show the full 82-game schedule opponent by opponent.  What I liked most about this was that by using trading cards, they were able to show a mix of current and former players, jerseys and photos.  It was a good balance.

13) San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs had some nice effects in this video to simulate custom opponent tiles on the famous River Walk.  While the production value may have been a step below Toronto, the concept is authentic and unique to them.

14) Brooklyn Nets

The Nets played with Photoshop nicely to display their schedule around landmarks in the city in a similar way as Toronto.  This video, however, cuts way too quickly for anything to be readable.  They did share still images on their timeline which is a much better visual, but they missed an opportunity to use Twitter threads to tie it all together.  Another miss is that they only focused on home games.  From a marketing perspective I get it, but fans care about all games equally.

15) Washington Wizards

A relatively simple execution around NBA JAM is something we’ve seen before, but it’s still cool.  They kept it easy, scrolling through opponents and showing the dates for each one.

16) Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs used a combination of simple video art, straightforward voiceover and some audio clips to put together some interesting tidbits about their schedule.  Rather than just highlighting big games, they also provided some key stats & storylines.  This is just one example, there are more on their timeline.

17) Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies used their Grind City Media content team to analyze the schedule as it got released.  This one is pretty straightforward and analytical.  It’s fine.

18) Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs used a radio personality and their mascot to play a game a game of Charades around guessing some of the games, and it was kind of weird.  Besides the fact that it moved painfully slow and had low production value, Ahmaad Crump was scripted as if he had no idea what the NBA team names were.  This didn’t do it for me, though they do get points for trying something unique.

19) Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers used some practice facility shots with logo overlays to reveal some of the key games on their schedule.  Nothing inspiring, but it;’s better than some of the teams below them on this list.

20) Boston Celtics

The Celtics didn’t do anything special for their schedule release, not that they have to.  They are the favorites in the East this season, and a hype video highlighting some of their biggest matchups is enough to get a passionate fan base energized.

21) Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves did what others teams did: release a highlight video showing the marquee matchups.  Again, nothing wrong with this approach as long as the video is well-produced.  In this case, it is.

22) Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks may have had the most tweets about their schedule, but none were overly creative.  Nothing wrong with cookie cutter here, but they are opening a new arena this year…felt like they could have done more with that.

23) Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers’ content highlight focused on the marquee matchups and was released in a three-part Twitter thread, which I thought was a bit odd.  Why not make one video encapsulating all of them?  Each one also moved too slowly for my taste.

24) Los Angeles Clippers

This was the closest thing the Clippers had to “content”, which was a visual animation with a new schedule notes.  Like others in this range, it’s fine but not creative.

25) Orlando Magic

The Magic did what others on this list did: make a video showcasing marquee games.  I rank them lower than teams ahead of them such as the Sixers and Bucks because they only focused on home games.

26) Indiana Pacers

The Pacers had me intrigued with their video game-style opening but lost my attention quickly once b-roll of their game experience team rolled between opponents.  I didn’t get the connection…perhaps I missed something.

27) New York Knicks

The Knicks’ new marketing theme focused around youth/streetball/future of New York, if you haven’t seen it, is unique and authentic.  They could have done a lot with that for the schedule release but instead just pointed people back to their website.  While they may rank low here, I’m intrigued to see how they evolve the larger campaign.

28) Miami Heat

The Heat didn’t have any social-specific content around the schedule release.  They are, however, among the text at engaging text overlay on social videos, and this is another good example.

29) Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder did nothing special for the schedule release.  Just a link to their website with a ticket message follow-up.

30) New Orleans Pelicans

Not only did the Pelicans not do anything around the schedule release, but their graphic isn’t even that compelling.

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