Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Basketball

Breaking Down the Smallest Market NBA Teams

These are the smallest market teams in the NBA – broken down by market size, stadium capacity, and franchise value.

Breaking down the smallest market teams in the NBA today
Joker Mag Illustration

Over the last twenty years, basketball has cemented itself as one of the most popular sports around the globe. The NBA has the highest social media engagement in the world, with a larger following than the MLB, NFL, and NHL combined.

Whether you’re in the largest or smallest NBA market, the ties the fans have with their franchises are one of the strongest in sports. 

The popularity of NBA teams comes down to star power.

Out of every major professional sport, the most valuable and popular team on the planet is the Los Angeles Lakers, who have boasted some of the most recognizable and marketable stars of the last 25 years.

But for smaller market NBA teams, popularity comes down to drafting smart, legacy in the community, and staying relevant.

Taking into account market size, stadium capacity, and franchise value, let’s rank the smallest market NBA teams.

Table of Contents

1.) New Orleans Pelicans

An illustration of Zion Williamson playing for the New Orleans Pelicans – the smallest market team in the NBA.
Joker Mag Illustration

Market Size: 1,559,000 (30th of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 16,867 (29th of 30)

Franchise Value: $1.6 billion, operating income of $94 Million (30th of 30)

By any metric, the Pelicans are the smallest market team in the entire NBA. Out of all 30 teams, New Orleans has both the lowest franchise value and market size in the league.

But with the recent signings of ascending superstar Zion Williamson, and the extension of undrafted star Jose Alvarado, don’t expect the Pelicans to stay in the bottom spot for too long.

2.) Memphis Grizzlies

Market Size: 1,604,000 (29th of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 18,119 (22nd of 30)

Franchise Value: $1.65 billion, operating income of $107 million (29th of 30)

Historically, the Grizzlies have always fallen toward the bottom of the league in overall value, but it only takes one player to vault a team into the upper echelon.

Take the Golden State Warriors, for instance. Before Stephen Curry, the Warriors as a franchise were worth around 450 million dollars. Now? Over four billion.

The Grizzlies may have found their own Curry in superstar Ja Morant. And as his star power rises, so will the Grizzlies franchise.

RELATED: How Ja Morant Went From Unknown High School Baller To NBA Star

3.) Oklahoma City Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is emerging as a star for the Oklahoma City Thunder
Joker Mag Illustration

Market Size: 1,737,00 (28th of 30)

Stadium Capacity:18,203 (21st of 30)

Franchise Value: $1.875 billion, operating income $129 million (24th of 30)

Slotted in the bottom three of the league, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the youngest club on this list. With a franchise less than twenty years old, the Thunder are looking to build their value with rookies and young players.

Over the next few years, the Thunder have 38 total draft picks, giving them the flexibility to grow.

4.) Indiana Pacers

Market Size: 2,642,000 (24th of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 17,923 (25th of 30)

Franchise Value: $1.8 Billion, operating income $65 million (26th of 30)

Basketball in the Hoosier state is a renowned pastime, and the state’s most popular sport, giving the Indiana Pacers one of the strongest home bases in the country, despite their small market.

Even without the championship hardware, the fans in Indiana are passionate about this team and will always show their support.

5.) Utah Jazz

Market Size: 2,505,000 (25th of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 18,303 (20th of 30)

Franchise Value: $2.025 Billion, operating income of$58 million (19th of 30)

Owner of the Utah Jazz, tech mogul Ryan Smith, maybe in denial about the Jazz’s ranking on this list.

When asked about Utah as a market, Smith gave this quote: “We’re really not a small market. If you look at the growth of Utah, I think we’re a top ten market in the league when it comes to what we can support.”

Despite the owner’s opinion, the numbers don’t back up the sentiment. But it’s an encouraging look into the future for Jazz fans.

Honorable Mentions

Let’s take a look at a few small market squads that didn’t quite crack the top 5.

Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo has single-handedly skyrocketed the Milwaukee Bucks' franchise value in spite of the small market they play in.
Joker Mag Illustration

Market Size: 2,255,000 (26th of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 18,303 (28th of 30)

Franchise Value: $2.3 Billion dollars, operating income of $51 million (15th of 30)

If we were making this list even a year ago, Milwaukee would be firmly on the list.

While having a bottom-five market and stadium, the overall worth of the Bucks in the last two years has skyrocketed, thanks to the on-the-court dominance of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Charlotte Hornets

Market Size: 3,462,000 (21st of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 19,077 (14th of 30)

Franchise Value: $1.7 Billion, operating income of $94 million (24th of 30)

Minnesota Timberwolves

Market Size: 4,667,000 (15th of 30)

Stadium Capacity: 19,356 (11th of 30)

Franchise Value: $1.67 billion, operating income of $87 Million (28th of 30)

More from this series:

Do you like rooting for the teams and players counted out by the masses? Then you’ll love our Underdog Newsletter where we highlight under-the-radar players and overlooked stories happening in sports. Join free here.

Written By

Graduated from IUPUI in 2014 with a degree in journalism and a minor in creative writing. Nolan has been a freelance writer since 2019 as a contributing writer and reporter for multiple online platforms.

Advertisement

Related

Basketball

In a world of 7-foot freaks of nature, these little guys have beaten the odds.

Baseball

A curated list of choices recommended by ballplayers across the nation. As a bonus, we included some recommended start times.

Stories

Meet the ironworker making his name in the professional fight game.

Stories

From the octagon to the gridiron, these are the greatest comebacks in the history of sports.