Sports

Basketball: How to Choose Your NBA Team – A Guide for New Fans

Josh Davis has assessed every one of the NBA’s 30 teams, so you can a pick a franchise to ride from here to eternity.

It’s happened again. The NBA season has once again caught you by surprise. Every year you promise yourself you’ll pick a team, sign up to League Pass and waste away otherwise productive afternoons watching some gangly dudes throw a ball at a circle, but every year you don’t quite manage to get around to it.

When the Playoffs come around you attempt to lock in, pick a team to support, but it’s not the same. You haven’t earned any success, all victories feel hollow. You weren’t there when times were tough, when the coach was too stubborn to play the exciting young rookie over the declining veteran. You weren’t there when the team’s best player thought it would be cool to not attempt to play defense. Where were you when the entire team got on the piss in their only night out in New York for the year, resulting in a hungover 30-point blowout loss the next day?

It’s OK, though, this year will be different. I am here to help you, and happen to be an idiot savant when it comes to choosing NBA teams to support.

In 2007 I started supporting the Orlando Magic, who were at that point a borderline playoff team coming off years of mediocrity. In 2009 they played in the NBA Finals. In 2009 I started supporting the Golden State Warriors, when they drafted my favourite college player, Steph Curry. Last season they were the NBA Champions.

I am NBA team-picking God.


Here is the criteria I will be using:

WATCHABILITY

Are they fun to watch? Whether it’s via a star player, an attractive, fast-paced style of play or they do dumb, goofy shit, it’s important the team you choose is actually fun to watch because otherwise why bother?

LIKABILITY OF PLAYERS/COACHES

Although athletes are almost uniformly bad, constantly making us regret getting emotionally invested in their lives and successes, the NBA is chocka full of intelligent, funny and eccentric sweethearts and it’s a lot more fun to support a team if you actually like the players on your team.

FUTURE PROSPECTS

You’re picking a team not just for this season, but for the rest of your life. This decision will follow, perhaps even haunt you for the rest of your life so you better pick a team that has a chance to be really good for a really long time.

MISCELLANEOUS, SUBJECTIVE THOUGHTS

Do cool celebs go to their games? Do they have fans with funny tweets? How horny are their players? Shit like that.
What we’re really looking for here is a team on the way up. For victories to be truly satisfying, you need to go through some hardships with your boys.

We’ve divided the teams up into five groups, corresponding with how you should approach each set of teams.

GROUP ONE: NAH, DON’T DO IT

(I’m serious, do not choose the following teams unless you despise yourself)

Philadelphia 76ers

Watchability: In theory they play a nice style of basketball, but besides Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, they are completely unwatchable. Tall, athletic players that cannot shoot or pass. Gross, IMO.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Honestly, not sure any of these guys are sentient beings. Boring, nondescript, living, breathing basketball assets. Their GM, Sam Hinkie, is essentially just biding his time to trade any of these players for a player with even slightly higher value. Sam Hinkie looks at this team like it’s an Excel spreadsheet, is a nerd.

Future Prospects: They might be good in the future but who cares. Fuck this team.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Players on this team are so often traded/released that is it is actually noticeable that none of the players want to get to close to one another for fear that their mate will be swiftly sent to another team. They have been burnt before. Sam Hinkie is a nerd.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Charlotte Hornets

Watchability: Worst shooting team in the league last year, they have added some shooters but, idk, they just reek of mediocrity.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Frank Kaminsky, their rookie, the 2014-15 College Player of the Year, is a big goofy nerd, so that’s chill. Jeremy Lin, Harvard graduate, is also a goofy nerd, which is also chill.

Future Prospects: The Hornets are owned by Michael Jordan, AKA the Jumpman, AKA the Jordan crying meme, allegedly a former basketball player(?) is a bad owner who makes bad personnel decisions. They will be mediocre-to-terrible for as long as he reigns.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Jumpman Jumpman Jumpman Jumpman Jumpman.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

Denver Nuggets

Watchability: Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay will be exciting to watch.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Nah.

Future Prospects: Mudiay and maybe huge man Jusuf Nurkic.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: They play at altitude, is that interesting?

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

I tried to find a cool Denver Nuggets Vine but I somehow found myself watching Steph Curry Vines for two hours instead.


Sacramento Kings

Watchability: Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins is a true joy to watch and everyone else is a nightmare. They have almost no shooting, so their best player will have no space to operate.

Likeability Players/Coaches: It’s a bunch of mad dudes. Boogie is very emotional and demonstrative as is Rajon Rondo.

Future Prospects: Boogie. They have fired three coaches in two years. They are, and will continue to be a disaster.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Their owner, Vivek Ranadive, wants them to play defense with four people, leaving one person seagulling down the other end waiting for a long outlet pass on the off chance they actually stop the other team. This man wants to do everything you thought would be a good idea when you were a 12 year-old, dreaming of owning an NBA team. This man is probably about to suggest the players wear sneakers with springs in the soles. “All I’m saying is, it’s a brilliant idea that is worth trying. Heck, maybe they could even just wear tiny trampolines on their feet! Owning an NBA team is fun.”

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Orlando Magic

Watchability: They have a lot of fun, young players, most of whom cannot shoot a basketball. That’s problematic! Putting the ball in the basket is kinda important! Just my opinion.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Mario Hezonja, their Croatian rookie, is very confident and talks a lot of trash.

Future Prospects: They are a young, talented team. They have a very bright future.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Sometimes horny-ass Tiger Woods comes to the games to scout the cheerleaders, so if you’re into cutaway shots of famous athletes staring and biting their bottom lip this could be the team for you! Too bad their owner is a big ol’ conservative homophobe who actively campaigns against LGBT rights! You cannot in good conscience support this team! Sorry friends.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Memphis Grizzlies

Watchability: The Griz are some real Kiwi battlers but, my god, they are ugly to watch.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Tony Allen is really cool and an otherworldly defender but that doesn’t put bums in seats.

Future Prospects: They have peaked and are on a downward trajectory.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: There is nothing fun about these grouchy old men. These guys probably spend their timeouts complaining about millennials taking too many selfies.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

I’m honestly not even sure Memphis Grizzlies games are televised.


Brooklyn Nets

Watchability: Nah.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Boring, quasi-journeymen who are just getting their cheques.

Future Prospects: Grim AF.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Jay Z used to pretend to own the team, do you like Jay Z?

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Indiana Pacers

Watchability: They have revamped their team, deciding to ditch their slow, bang ‘em in the paint style in favour of an up-tempo, spread ‘em out style on offensive. Paul George was one of the 10 best players in the league until he literally snapped his leg in half a year ago.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Nah. Future Prospects: PG still could be one of the 10 best players in the league, maybe. During the Draft I tweeted that I thought Myles Turner would be the steal of the Draft, so it would be extremely chill if that happened.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: I kinda just assume all their fans are racist. Isn’t Indiana the birthplace of the KKK? This is very good analysis I’m doing here.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

I would post the Vine of Paul George snapping his leg here, but it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Don’t look it up. You know what, I made it up. It never happened. Paul George never snapped his leg. Please don’t google this.


GROUP TWO: TEAMS THAT MAY STAY MEDIOCRE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE AND MAKE YOU SAD

Detroit Pistons

Watchability: Stan Van Gundy will have them playing a fun style with a pick and roll surrounded by three-point shooters. Andre Drummond dunks on people, which is, in my opinion, cool.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Stan Van is great.

Future Prospects: They’re in the Eastern conference, which is weaker than the West, so maybe they can fluke their way to the conference finals in a few years, but they really don’t have elite talent. Stan Van is a good coach.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: New signing Aron Baynes was born in Gisborne, New Zealand. If you are nostalgic about your first post-high school new years in Gizzy, maybe this is the team for you? Rhythm & Baynes might be a chill, kinda’ niche nickname for Aron? Or the title of a middling RomCom where big Baynesy learns to dance and falls in love with his emotionally guarded dance instructor? Just spitballin’ here, folks.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Toronto Raptors

Watchability: Nah.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Not really.

Future Prospects: Middling East playoff team til the end of time.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: The only reason to support this team is that the rapper Drake is their official ambassador AKA he goes to games sometimes when he’s in the 6. Essentially the only reason to support this team is that you might get to make a good Drake meme whilst watching one of their games, which is low key an excellent reason to support a basketball team

Bonus Pop Culture Joke:

And I know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing:

Don’t support this team.

LMFAO

Two Vines That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Miami Heat

Watchability: Pretty fun to watch, guess.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Chris Bosh a goofy dude.

Future Prospects: This team is getting old but Pat Riley, the team president, is a savage, and will swing for a big trade. But yeah, they’re old. Not many years left.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: All Miami Heat fans are bad. Both fans in Miami (all their fans look like they own boats) and here in humble New Zealand (leftover LeBron bandwagoners).

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

Went down another Steph Curry rabbit hole here, please forgive me.


Atlanta Hawks

Watchability: Good to watch if you’re a B-ball purist (ball movement! Cutting! Kyle Korver’s knee-high socks!), boring for the b-ball layman (nobody’s gonna dunk on nobody’s head)

Likeability Players/Coaches: Boring players.

Future Prospects: This is probably quite controversial, they were one of the best teams in the East last year, but they’re low key old and they don’t have a superstar/potential future superstar. They peaked last year.

Future Prospects: The rapper Future is from Atlanta and you might see him at one of the Atlanta Hawks basketball matches!

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Boring.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Dallas Mavericks

Watchability: Rick Carlisle will make their offense pretty.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Dirk is cool, Chandler Parsons is a chill-ass bro.

Future Prospects: Gonna’ have to rebuild after their future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki retires in the next couple of years.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Their owner Mark Cuban is crazy and played the President of the United States of America in Sharknado 3.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Phoenix Suns

Watchability: Young and they play up-tempo.

Likeability Players/Coaches: IDK

Future Prospects: Some good young players. Good coach.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: These guys used to be exciting, what happened?

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

I’m just gonna’ move on to the next team, now. I won’t lie, I didn’t even look for a Vine for these guys.


GROUP THREE: TEAMS WITH EXCITING FUTURES BUT THEY AREN’T QUITE THERE YET

Boston Celtics

Watchability: Good to watch for basketball purists, no star power.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Coach Brad Stevens is a boy genius, can give good interviews.

Future Prospects: Good, young hungry players. Young, wunderkind coach. They have trade assets and draft picks. This team will be fun to watch for a while. They’re still bad enough that you can feel like you’re getting in on the ground floor.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: People from Boston kinda suck. You might hate Bill Simmons?

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

Scrappy Boston battlers.


Los Angeles Lakers

Watchability: Exciting young players, Kobe Bryant, curmudgeonly old man, raging against the dying of the light.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Swaggy P is quotable yet his relationship with Iggy Azalea is PROBLEMATIC. Kobe will talk a lot of shit about the inexperienced whipper snappers on this team.

Future Prospects: D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, desirable trade/free agent destination.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: They have HELLA celebs.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Portland Trailblazers

Watchability: Damian Lillard is an All Star; their offense will be aesthetically pleasing.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Nope.

Future Prospects: Damian Lillard will be very good in this league for the foreseeable future. CJ McCollum is kinda nice, too. They will be pretty bad for the next few years, though.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Damian Lillard raps, but does not have bars.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Utah Jazz

Watchability: Young team with exciting players, who compete. That’s fun.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Gordon Hayward, ostensibly their star player, is a gaming nerd. That might be interesting to you? What are your interests?

Future Prospects: They have a chance to be a good team for a long time. Good coach.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Maybe you don’t think Mormonism is chill? They peaked down the stretch last season, winning against teams that were resting their players ahead of the playoffs. Can we trust that that version of the Jazz is who they really are?

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Milwaukee Bucks

Watchability: Fun young players, struggle offensively.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Giannis Antetokounmpo is seven foot tall and athletic. That’s fun.

Future Prospects: Jabari Parker, Giannis and Middleton are nice. Jason Kidd is a good coach.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: They’re some nice boys.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Washington Wizards

Watchability: John Wall is going to be very good for a very long time.

Likeability Players/Coaches: John Wall is an angel who does a lot for his community and his friendship with a little girl who was terminally ill with cancer was very heartwarming and made me cry a bunch.

Future Prospects: John Wall and Bradley Beal are legit and there is also the chance that Kevin Durant, top three player in the NBA, will be coming to the Wizards – his hometown team – after this season.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: The rapper Wale commentates their games sometimes which is cool, in my opinion.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


GROUP FOUR: TEAMS THAT WOULD BE FUN TO SUPPORT BUT IT’S PROBABLY NOT COOL TO SUPPORT THEM BECAUSE THEY’RE ALREADY VERY GOOD

Chicago Bulls

Watchability: Offense will be much better to watch this year with new coach Fred Hoiberg.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Some people hate Joakim Noah because he talks much trash, but I like him.

Future Prospects: Window closing as presently constructed, but Jimmy Butler is a superstar and the team will be built around him.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: I feel like everyone supports the Bulls so, um, don’t do it. Up to you, though.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

Joakim, ILY.


Los Angeles Clippers

Watchability: Objectively fun to watch. Dunks, threes, all the good shit.

Likeability Players/Coaches: A team of detestable whingers, particularly Chris Paul and Doc Rivers. Blake Griffin is quite funny.

Future Prospects: Another 4-5 years of Chris Paul. Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan are the future.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: I really hate this team.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Houston Rockets

Watchability: The most unwatchable, loathsome up-tempo three-point shooting team of all time.

Likeability Players/Coaches: James Harden, MVP, only exists to dry and draw fouls. He is the worst. Got curved by Khloe Kardashian for her nice-guy ex, so that might be relatable to you?

Future Prospects: They will be contending in the West for the foreseeable future.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Don’t Support this team.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Cleveland Cavaliers

Watchability: Very, deeply watchable. Dunks, threes, broken ankles, ball movement. It’s lit.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Bunch of likeable dudes.

Future Prospects: They have LeBron and Kyrie Irving (and K-Love, I guess), they’re gonna’ be elite for a long time.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: JR Smith is the horniest player in the league, which is saying something. His Twitter DMs will be leaked at some point during the season and will be incredibly depraved. Iman Shumpert raps and actually has bars. David Blatt, long-time resident of Israel, thinks it’s cool to bomb Palestine so, uh, fuck him.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


San Antonio Spurs

Watchability: So good to watch.

Likeability Players/Coaches: They are all incredible people.

Future Prospects: Lamarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are the future.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: This team is old and they love each other. Tim Duncan has, maybe two seasons left in him, same with Manu Ginobili, so their sense of desperation to get one last ring before they bow out is palpable, and fun to watch. I will not begrudge you supporting this team.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:

Yeah, baby. That’s the good stuff.


Oklahoma City Thunder

Watchability: YUP. They have an actual offense now (spacing, ball movement, etc) and two of the best, most explosive players on the planet in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Likeability Players/Coaches: They’re all pretty great but especially Kiwi legend, Steve Adams.

Future Prospects: Depends what KD and Russ do in free agency. If they stick around they will contend for years to come.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: If you don’t at least partially support this team, you aren’t a real Kiwi, I’m just bein’ honest here.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Golden State Warriors

Watchability: The best team to watch in the NBA. Beautiful basketball.

Likeability Players/Coaches: They are all the finest folk you could ever hope to meet.

Future Prospects: Young and they are the defending NBA Champions.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: I love them. They are my boys. I’m sorry but it’s just not okay to just start supporting the defending champions. It’s just not. I’d love you to experience this, but it’s just not okay. They are my boys. Not your boys.

Several Vines That Remind Us That Life Should Be Celebrated, Every Moment Savoured:




GROUP FIVE: PICK ONE OF THESE TEAMS, YOU PROBABLY WON’T REGRET IT

New Orleans Pelicans

Watchability: By the end of the season, Anthony Davis might be regarded as the best player on this here planet.

Likeability Players/Coaches: New coach, Alvin Gentry, is extremely quotable and funny.

Future Prospects: Anthony Davis.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Anthony Davis.

Vines That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:



Minnesota Timberwolves

Watchability: Extremely exciting young talent.

Likeability Players/Coaches: Ricky Rubio is cute AF.

Future Prospects: Karl Towns and Andrew Wiggins are certified future superstars. The team is gonna’ be bad this year despite the two potential superstars, so you can really feel like you came in at the start of something special.

Miscellaneous, Subjective Thoughts: Their coach, Flip Saunders, just tragically passed away. This season could be could be a goddamn Disney movie. Prepare yourself for an emotional journey.

A Vine That Concisely and Accurately Illustrates The Fan Experience of Supporting This Team:


Good luck, godspeed, and I am very sorry that the teams I told you to choose will be bad and make you sad.

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