Warriors are most popular NBA franchise in China, digital study says

Warriors are most popular NBA franchise in China, digital study says

Any growing international business, whether it's an apparel company, marketing agency, or an NBA franchise, would like to see growth across the top markets around the world. 

China, a country that has a population approaching 1.5 billion, has long been a place where American companies have tried to gain a foothold.

It appears the Golden State Warriors have done that with great success, at least in comparison with the rest of the NBA.

The Warriors are the most popular NBA team online in China, according to the “NBA Red Card,” a study into the digital performance of the NBA compiled by the Mailman Group.

Golden State scored 90 points on the study’s scale, which was 24 points higher than the next closest franchise (Houston Rockets, 66). The Los Angeles Lakers were No. 3 on the list with 53 points.

In terms of individual player popularity in China, Palo Alto native and NBA champion Jeremy Lin occupied the top spot by a wide margin. However, the No. 2 and No. 3 players on the list are both Warriors. Two-time MVP Steph Curry finished second, while All-Pro swingman Klay Thompson took the third spot. Thompson has an exclusive shoe deal with Anta, a Chinese company, and takes a trip there every offseason to promote the brand.

His adventures abroad created a nickname for Thompson, as “China Klay” became a viral sensation several summers ago.

[RELATED: How Warriors' youthful inexperience will help, hinder team in 2019-20]

The Warriors organization has worked extremely hard to build up a following in China, as they were the first NBA franchise to don specialty uniforms to celebrate Chinese New Year. The team has also hosted 24 preseason games there since 2004.

How Steph Curry played in back-to-back vs. Rockets, Spurs in NBA 2K sim

How Steph Curry played in back-to-back vs. Rockets, Spurs in NBA 2K sim

Editor’s note: With the NBA season halted over coronavirus concerns, Warriors fans have unanswered questions about the team and how it’s building toward the future. To provide answers, NBC Sports Bay Area will simulate some previously scheduled Warriors games through NBA 2K, mixing video-game results with real-life insights for our coverage team.

A number of tests needed to be passed for Steph Curry to be fully integrated back into the Warriors' lineup. Among them was how Curry would play on the road during a back-to-back.

In the virtual world of NBA 2K20, he flourished under the circumstance, leading the Warriors in blowout victories over the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.

Over the two-game stretch, Curry accumulated 71 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. During the first game of the Texas Two-Step, Curry exploded for 45 points against the Rockets, including 18 in the third quarter, helping the Warriors beat Houston 110-93. A night later, he added 26 points, as the Warriors handily beat the Spurs 108-100.

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Curry's digital outburst came during a unique time for the guard. After missing three months with a broken hand, the former MVP played his first game back from injury March 5. As Curry approached his return, Warriors coach Steve Kerr expressed caution when asked how he'd bring his star guard back into the fold, making the virtual back-to-back uncertain. However, Curry pushed back on the notion of sitting out games down the stretch.

In any case, Curry's digital availability worked out for his newest teammate Andrew Wiggins. Alongside Curry, Wiggins scored 36 points against the Spurs, including 18 points in the first quarter. Nearly two months ago, Wiggins was acquired in large part due to his perceived fit alongside Curry. In their lone real-world experience playing together, the duo combined for 62 points. If virtual play is any indication, Curry and Wiggins are adjusting well to each other's games.

[RELATED: Remembering Warriors' five most memorable playoff moments]

While the two-game stretch was promising, it might not be realistic. Entering league suspension, the Warriors were the worst team in the league, even with Curry on the active roster. While Curry's 2K play was encouraging, he'd still be playing without Klay Thompson, who was going to miss the rest of the season rehabbing a surgically repaired left knee. Additionally, Wiggins' propensity of inconsistent play could hinder a team trying to find rhythm heading into next season.

But as we've found out over the years, Curry makes any team he's on better, whether in actual or virtual reality.

Watch Warriors' Steph Curry surprise random person on Instagram Live

Watch Warriors' Steph Curry surprise random person on Instagram Live

Steph Curry is using his time while the NBA season is indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to make this unprecedented situation a little bit easier on everyone.

Earlier this week, he held a live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to help spread the word to thousands of people as to how to help flatten the curve of the pandemic.

Curry has also provided some laughs through his comedic commentary on other player's workouts, as well as through his own child's personal evaluation of him as a substitute teacher.

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On Saturday, Curry added to the smiles when he surprisingly joined someone's Instagram Live.

As you can see -- and hear -- it was quite the pleasant surprise.

[RELATED: Riley called Steph 'three-star' teacher in home schooling]

Curry told the hosts that he had been watching them all day. With so much additional time on his hands, he has to fill it somehow, but it's great to see that he continues to use it to brighten others' days.