Many words have been written about the influx of international players into the NBA over the last decade or two, but the majority of current NBA-ers are still American born.
The VAST majority, actually. By my last count, 341 out of 429 NBA players were born in the USA. That’s a healthy 79%.
To better identify where these players are coming from, I thought it’d be interesting to plot them on a map of the US, to see which states are hotbeds for producing NBA-caliber athletes.
This is what I found:
As you can see, players come from all over the country – from the beaches of Florida to the mountains of snowy Alaska, but not every state is represented. In fact, 14 states don’t have a player in the NBA at all. Some you might expect (Vermont only has about 630,000 people after all) and some are more surprising (Get it together Massachusetts!)
More interestingly, while some states have about as many representatives as you’d think they should (Florida: 17, New York: 28), some states are wildly overrepresented (Louisiana: 15) and some are woefully underrepresented (Ohio: 9, Massachusetts: 0.) It’s especially interesting to see that Washington DC, a city of 630,000 people, has more players in the NBA than all but 13 American states.
To look at it another way, let’s convert these numbers into a national scale we are familiar with: The electoral college. This will show us how much of a basketball powerhouse each state is.
First, a map of the electoral college.
We know the electoral college isn’t tied directly to population, but it’s close. In order to make our NBA map comparable to the electoral college, we need to do some math. The electoral college has 538 votes and our NBA college only has 341 delegates. 538 divided by 341…means we need to multiply every NBA number by 1.58. Once we do that and round to the nearest number, we get…
Obviously I skipped the part where we give each state 2 votes just for existing, but this is actually more accurate since now our NBA electoral college is more tied to the actual populations.
After we compare the two electoral college maps, it’s easy to come to a few conclusions:
1) The South is a powerful place for high caliber basketball players.
2) Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida are almost spot on when it comes to correct proportions.
3) If you want to up your chances of your son making to the NBA, procreate in New York or California.
4) States with no NBA teams are less likely to produce NBA players.
5) But they’re also less likely to produce anything because, well, they don’t have that many people.
6) States with more urban populations (New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, DC) are more likely to produce NBA players.
7) Basketball really is big in Indiana.
8) I have way too much time on my hands.
If you enjoyed this piece, support FlipCollective by subscribing to C A R T E L, which features all-new writing by folks like Neal Pollack, Justin Halpern, and Paul Shirley.
For more from Matt…