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  1. Analyzing Changes in NBA Fan Demand

    What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we were in the midst of an NBA lockout and a season that appeared very much in jeopardy. This year, we have a much different story. The NBA experienced great momentum coming off an exciting NBA Finals which saw the Miami Heat win their first title in the LeBron James era, a thrilling draft where New Orleans landed top pick Anthony Davis, a monumental free agency period that had the Lakers grabbing a Hall of Fame point guard and teams swapping the two best centers in the league, and an entire franchise pack its bags and move to a town that hasn’t seen professional sports since 1957.

    The brand new 2012-13 NBA season kicks off this week and StubHub decided to take a look at the data and see how fan demand has changed from the beginning of the 2011-12 NBA Season. Measuring page views for each team’s games from one week prior to each season, we’re able to compare and contrast how fan patterns have changed based on moves made in the offseason. Several trends pop out in the numbers, some surprising and some not-so surprising. We’ll take a look at the biggest movers and shakers ahead of the upcoming season.

    Josh Haner/The New York Times

    New Building, New City, New Team

    Arguably the biggest change during the offseason didn’t involve player movement; it involved team movement. The Nets, longtime tenants of New Jersey, moved to the borough of Brooklyn and appear to be emerging from the Knicks’ shadow. TheBrooklyn Nets are currently set to tip off in the new Barclays Center on Saturday against the Raptors, showing signs of NYC’s biggest borough getting back to business as usual after the passing of Sandy.

    While this week brought extenuating circumstances to Nets fans, just a week ago it was clear that interest for Nets tickets on our site had skyrocketed compared to last year. Page views, which hovered a little over 100,000 the week before 2011’s home opener, shot up close to 700,000 last week. An increase of 468% percent! While some of this demand can be attributed to keeping Deron Williams and acquiring Joe Johnson, it’s apparent that the Barclays Center is the hot new attraction in New York. The question throughout the season will be how demand fluctuates if the Nets don’t get off to a fast start.  

    The Trade That Shocked The League

    If you lived in Los Angeles, Orlando, Denver or Philadelphia, you remember where you were on August 11, 2012. That Friday, those four teams entered into a massive off-season deal that dramatically altered the course of the 2012-13 season and finally ended the Dwight Howard saga. The Lakers received the big man from Orlando, and the Magic got Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, and several other players from each team in return. The 76ers walked away with a large prize in former Lakers’ big man Andrew Bynum and the Nuggets scored former U.S. Olympic team member Andre Iguodala.

    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire

    Who walked away with the biggest momentum swing? The Sixers! Philadelphia saw their fan demand increase by 280%. While some credit can be given to the Andrew Bynum acquisition, it’s also due in part to miniscule demand ahead of last year and a successful playoff run to close out the 2011-12 season where they pushed the Boston Celtics to the brink in the second round. For the Lakers, the effects of the trade were obvious. Even though they were the fourth most popular team on our chart last year, they increased their overall page views by 147%. The Nuggets have also seen a 101% demand increase as well.

    As for the Magic, well, their overall page views still grew compared to last year. However, every team’s page views grew, and the Magic’s only increased by a paltry 31%. The rebuilding effort in Orlando is officially underway.

    NBA Draft

    The NBA Draft always provides a sense of hope for struggling teams dreaming of the opportunity to grab the next franchise defining star like Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, or even LeBron James. For the teams drafting in the top three this year, (Hornets, Bobcats and Wizards) it appears that their fan base hasn’t been overwhelmingly galvanized to look at tickets following their teams’ selections.

    The Hornets, which drafted Kentucky center Anthony Davis with the number one pick, saw a 72% increase in page views year-over-year. Despite the rise in numbers, it still places them 29th overall on our table, but their 30,000 page views trump the 17,000 they received ahead of last year. The Bobcats are fairing a little better. Their selection of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist lead to a 88% increase and page views up to the 60,000s. The Wizards, which took Florida shooter, Bradley Beal, only improved by 34%, but with the franchise located in the larger market of Washington D.C., they have around 90,000 page views, trumping the other two teams.

    Surprisingly, the Raptors and Pistons were the two teams drafting in the Top 10 that came out smelling like roses. They saw increases of 110% and 112%,respectively. Some of that demand might be due to outside factors, but Terrence Ross (Raptors) and Andre Drummond (Pistons) look to be joining teams on the rise.

    We put together a handy infograph to see where your team stacks up relative to their draft slot.

    We’ll continue to track NBA fan demand throughout the season, as all the teams look to chase the Heat for that elusive championship. As for the Champs, they saw their demand increase 156% and I expect as long as they have LeBron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh, they’ll remain one of the most popular teams in the league.