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NBA In-Season Tournament Courts Ranked, Worst To First

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2023

The NBA’s In-Season Tournament can only be described as a massive on-court success. The quality of play has been outstanding. The players are more engaged than ever. The fans are into it. Mission accomplished, Adam Silver.

But as for the actual courts they are playing on? That’s another story.

To distinguish the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament games from other regular-season games, the league created custom alternate courts for all 30 teams that pay homage to each team’s respective city, culture, or history in some way.

Some of them are visually appealing and not too far removed from a standard NBA court. Others are vibrant and eye-opening on television, almost to the point where it is impossible to watch a full 48-minute game.

As we head into the home stretch of the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament, it’s only fitting we rank the designs from worst to first.

Methodology

Courts will be scored on a 1-5 scale based on the following:

  • How distracting they are (1 being very distracting)
  • How similar they look to a standard court
  • How well they align with the team’s colors and brand

22: New Orleans Pelicans

Score: 3/15

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 1/5

  • Regularity: 1/5

  • On Brand: 1/5

The combination of purple and slime-green does not align with the Pelicans’ color scheme of navy blue, red, and beige. Not only that, it is visually unappealing and looks far from your ordinary NBA court.

21: Charlotte Hornets

Score: 5/15

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 1/5

  • Regularity: 2/5

  • On Brand: 2/5

The Hornets logo at the center court is nice, but other than that, there isn’t anything exciting about this one — similar to the team’s brand of basketball. “The Hive is Alive" quote along the sideline is a bit too cheesy for my liking.

20: Memphis Grizzlies

Score: 5.5/15

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 1/5

  • Regularity: 1/5

  • On Brand: 3.5/5

The Grizzlies made a minimal effort to align their court with the team’s colors, but the neutral colorway looks nice. Similar to the Hornets, there isn’t anything too exciting or out of the ordinary with this design, which is why it ranks near the bottom of the list.

19: Dallas Mavericks

Score: 6/15

Credit: NBA.com

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 1/5

  • Regularity: 2/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

The Mavericks’ court has a fresh and clean look to it, though there were some unfortunate delays in using it. The font used to spell “MAVS" is a modern script that fits across the trophy nicely. The “For All of Dallas Fort Worth" quote along the sideline is a respectable tribute to the fans.

18: Washington Wizards

Score: 6.5/15

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 2.5/5

  • Regularity: 1/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

The teal-ish colored runway from lane to lane is creative and fits well with the tone of grey surrounding it on the court. If only the Wizards put as much time into their court design as they did their roster construction.

17: Denver Nuggets

Score: 7/15

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 2/5

  • Regularity: 2/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

As reigning NBA Champions, the Nuggets should’ve put their logo at the center court for everyone to see. The “5280" is a solid tribute to the Mile High City, but there is space to put it elsewhere.

At least the color scheme is nice.

16: Milwaukee Bucks

Score: 7.5/15

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 2.5/5

  • Regularity: 2/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

The Bucks do a great job of not drifting too far away from the standard NBA court while also matching the color scheme of their City Edition uniforms nicely. The “Fear the Deer" slogan along the sideline is a great touch.

15: Orlando Magic

Score: 8/15

Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 3/5

  • Regularity: 1/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The Magic logo is at its best when it has the big star. It gives an old-school feel that takes you back to the 90s and early 2000s before the franchise rebranded.

The color scheme of grey and navy blue is both subtle and visually appealing.

14: Oklahoma City Thunder

Score: 8.5/15

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 3/5

  • Regularity: 2.5/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

The Thunder logo has a slender and futuristic look to it. It is only fitting that the design of this up-and-coming team has a more modern look than the standard NBA court, but it doesn’t match their City Edition uniforms that well.

T-13: Minnesota Timberwolves

Score: 9/15

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 1/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

The Timberwolves’ court is nice, but it doesn’t feel like it matches their ferocity. A timber wolf is supposed to strike fear into the eyes of its foes, but the light blue color is rather inviting for opposing teams and fans.

T-13: Sacramento Kings

Score: 9/15

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4/5

  • Regularity: 1/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The Kings’ court design is a tribute to their rich history, representing the 100th anniversary of the franchise. The blue and red colorway pays homage to the 1968 Cincinnati Royals road uniforms.

The story this design tells is much better than the visual appeal.

12: Los Angeles Clippers

Score: 9.5/15

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 3/5

  • Regularity: 3/5

  • On Brand: 3.5/5

The Clippers use their court as a way to honor the history of the franchise that dates back multiple decades. The logo has a vintage look to it and is a nod to the San Diego Clippers and their uniforms from the 1970s and 80s.

T-11: Houston Rockets

Score: 10/15

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 3.5/5

  • Regularity: 2.5/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The Rockets are one of five teams in the NBA who chose to make their alternate courts red. The “H-Town" design at the center looks great, but the red font on the red court fails to pop off the screen.

T-11: Miami Heat

Score: 10/15

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 2.5/5

  • Regularity: 3.5/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The “Heat Culture" is something that the city of Miami has embodied, and it shows through in the design. The logo at center court has become synonymous with hard work and sacrifice.

T-11: Chicago Bulls

Score: 10/15

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 3/5

  • Regularity: 3/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

When you see that gigantic Bulls logo at center court, you can’t help but think about the championship history and success that the franchise had in the 1990s. It reminds you of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson, and winning.

T-11: Philadelphia 76ers

Score: 10/15

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4/5

  • Regularity: 2/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

Known as the “City of Brotherly Love," the red font at the center was designed to replicate the signage of Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. This court has a traditional feel to it that represents the city well.

10: Portland Trail Blazers

Score: 10.5/15

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 3/5

  • Regularity: 3/5

  • On Brand: 4.5/5

Of the five red court designs, the Blazers’ ranks first. Their checkered “Rip City" logo at center court is not only nice to look at, it acknowledges former head coach Jack Ramsay, who led the franchise to its first and only NBA title in 1977.

T-9: Brooklyn Nets

Score: 11/15

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4/5

  • Regularity: 3/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The Nets’ team colors of black, grey, and white don’t leave much room for creativity. However, the design aligns with the team’s brand and doesn’t drift too far away from the standard NBA court, which is why this one ranks so high despite being rather bland.

T-9: Cleveland Cavaliers

Score: 11/15

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4/5

  • Regularity: 4/5

  • On Brand: 3/5

The Cavaliers’ City Edition design is meant to pay tribute to the performing arts scene in the city of Cleveland. “The Land" emblem at midcourt has a theatrical design that aligns with the city’s field of interest.

8: Golden State Warriors

Score: 11.5/15

Source: NBA.com

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4/5

  • Regularity: 3.5/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The beige hardwood is similar to a standard NBA court but is simultaneously unique and appealing to the eye. This court would be higher on the list if the logo at the center court was more vibrant.

7: Detroit Pistons

Score: 12/15

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4/5

  • Regularity: 4/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The Pistons boast one of the better alternate court designs in the NBA. It’s too bad they won’t be doing much winning on this floor — or any other — any time soon. This look is the best thing the Pistons have going for them at the moment.

T-6: Atlanta Hawks

Score: 12.5/15

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 3.5/5

  • On Brand: 4/5

The Hawks court is spectacular. Between the colors, logo, and “lift as we fly" mantra along the sideline, this has everything you want in a unique, custom design.

T-6: San Antonio Spurs

Score: 12.5/15

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4.5/5

  • Regularity: 3/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

The Spurs’ court honors the Hemisfair in San Antonio, home of the 1968 World’s Fair. The “Viva Spurs" mantra paired with the creative colors highlights the unique origin story and how it shaped the city of San Antonio.

5: Indiana Pacers

Score: 13/15

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 3/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

While the Pacers’ court veers away from the classic navy blue and yellow of the franchise, the graffiti-style font is refreshing. The city of Indianapolis is known for its street art, making this design a slam dunk.

4: Toronto Raptors

Score: 13.5/15

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 3.5/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

The neutral color scheme combined with the old-school Raptors logo at the center makes this court stick out. Being the only NBA team to reside outside the United States, this design feels like foreign territory.

3: Phoenix Suns

Score: 14/15

Credit: Phoenix Suns

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 4/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

The purple court and light blue strip pair together nicely. Even Suns superstar Kevin Durant was amazed by the court design, citing the “El Valle" wordmark design at the center as his favorite part, viewing it as a remarkable way to acknowledge the Mexican-American fanbase in Phoenix.

T-2: Utah Jazz

Score: 14.5/15

Source: NBA.com

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 4.5/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

The “UTAH" emblem at the center and purple design stir up memories of the 1990s Jazz uniforms, which are regarded as some of the best in NBA history. This design calls back to the glory days — even if those teams never produced a title.

T-2: New York Knicks

Score: 14.5/15

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 4.5/5

  • Regularity: 5/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

The combination of orange and blue pops on a television screen so well. “New York, New York, so good they named it twice," said Gerard Kenny in the song, “New York, New York." The wordmark is a reminder that there is no place like the Big Apple.

T-1: Boston Celtics

Score: 15/15

Source: NBA.com

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 5/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

The Celtics court is virtually perfect. The “Boston" wordmark covering the NBA Cup trophy at the center highlights the winning history within the Celtics franchise and its illustrious past.

T-1: Los Angeles Lakers

Score: 15/15

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Score Breakdown:

  • Visuals: 5/5

  • Regularity: 5/5

  • On Brand: 5/5

When you see this court, you know the Lakers are playing. This design is special, perfectly depicting the team’s colors and brand. The purple and gold color scheme has become synonymous with the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles.

Author

Lior Lampert

Lior is an NBA/NFL writer for The Game Day. He earned a BA in English and MS in Sports Analytics in Management during his time as a student. Since then, Lior has been writing content for FanSided, GMEN HQ, and GameTime Sharks among other pages regarding the NFL, NBA, Tennis, fantasy football, and sports betting to develop a career in the sports media industry. Born in Israel but raised in New York, Lior is a long-time fan of his hometown New York Knicks and Giants. Not only does he enjoy covering sports, he enjoys playing basketball, tennis, and pickleball.

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