It’s almost time for the tip-off of the new basketball season, and you know what that means: It’s time to point out that not only does the NBA exist, but that other things also exist. A few outlets have already beaten us to the punch here, imagining NBA teams as rom-coms or TV shows or fake movies, but nobody has yet gotten around to asking the all-important question: Which NBA team is most like each NBA team? After hours of research and some contentious discussions among the Deadspin staff, we were able to find the perfect NBA team to represent each NBA team.
The Celtics are most similar to the Boston Celtics, because believe it or not, each franchise has won exactly 17 NBA titles, and both are currently led by Kyrie Irving.
The Nets play at the Barclays Center, just like the Brooklyn Nets, which makes the Nets the obvious NBA comp for the Nets.
New York Knicks
On the Knicks and their closest comparison, the New York Knicks, bright lights and plenty of history put a ton of pressure on each team’s centerpiece—Kristaps Porzingis in the case of the Knicks, and Kristaps Porzingis in the case of the Knicks.
“Trust The Process,” say 76ers fans, which makes their NBA brothers the Philadelphia 76ers, who have adopted that phrase as a sort of unofficial slogan.
The Raptors and the Toronto Raptors both made blockbuster trades this offseason, with the Raptors sending away DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, and the Raptors acquiring Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan.
Did you know that Michael Jordan played for both the Bulls and the Chicago Bulls? So there’s plenty of shared admiration for His Airness from both Bulls and Bulls fans.
The Cavs are a Midwestern team who’ll struggle to deal with the loss of superstar LeBron James, which makes them obviously similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who also lost LeBron over the summer.
The Bucks and the Milwaukee Bucks each boast a freakish young talent from Greece named Giannis Antetokounmpo, so Bucks fans should definitely check out the Bucks when their team has an off day.
The nickname “Pacers” comes from the “pace” car that leads drivers on the track at the start of a race. This gives the Pacers an interesting connection with the Indiana Pacers, who play in a city famous for the annual Indianapolis 500.
The Pistons strongly identify with their “Motor City” hometown, and they’ve built their reputation over the years through hard work and defense. This makes them most like the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
The Hawks are starting this season with an immensely talented and fun-to-watch young point guard named Trae Young, who’ll provide a guaranteed boost of adrenaline to this team. If you’re looking for an NBA team like them, check out the Atlanta Hawks, who got the electric point guard Trae Young in a draft-day trade this summer.
Randomly, the Hornets and the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA both used to be called the Bobcats up until just a few years ago. Weird, right?
With John Wall trying yet again to lead the Wizards to a breakthrough in a wide-open East, Washington’s basketball team compares best with the Washington Wizards, whose veteran point guard John Wall is also still searching for the top of the mountain.
The Magic have been pretty irrelevant for quite some time, so we’re going to dip deep into the NBA vault and pair them with a team you may not have even heard of: the Orlando Magic.
Much like the Miami Heat, the Heat had just a transcendent run of success behind their “Big Three” players just a few years ago, so there’s plenty of similar history between these two basketball teams.
The Jazz had a shockingly impressive 2017-18 season despite losing franchise stud Gordon Hayward, because rookie guard Donovan Mitchell stepped up to fill the void. Sound familiar? Yep, I bet you’re also thinking of the Utah Jazz.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers and the Portland Trail Blazers play in cities out west with good vibes and strong fanbases, but struggle to rise above the more talented teams in their region.
Oh boy, there’s a lot of drama going on with the Timberwolves right now, so it’s a no-brainer to compare them to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBA’s wildest reality show of the summer.
This was by far the easiest one—the Nuggets are obviously the Denver Nuggets.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder and the Oklahoma City Thunder are both the only pro sports team in their city, and boast a generational talent who carries the load in Russell Westbrook. They’re practically twins!
The Mavericks are beginning a new era this season with their star rookie from Europe, Luka Doncic. I don’t know if this sounds crazy, but Doncic actually reminds me a lot of Dirk Nowitzki, which makes the Mavs interestingly similar to the Dallas Mavericks.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have a long history of winning under a legendary head coach, but went through some turmoil last year and eventually had to trade their best player. You can see echoes of the Spurs’ situation in the San Antonio Spurs, who’ve won plenty of titles in the past two decades but couldn’t hold on to a disgruntled Kawhi Leonard this offseason.
The Rockets just love the three-pointer, and so do the Houston Rockets, who made more triples than any team ever during last year’s NBA season.
“Grit” is a word you’d most closely associate with the Grizzlies, and the same has to be true for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. To make it even better, both of these teams even played in Canada for a bit before finding a more permanent home in their respective current cities.
New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are the team to beat, having won three titles in the last four years, so they definitely compare to the god-level team of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors.
Despite some recent relative success, the Clippers have struggled to shed the “little brother” image they’ve picked up in the shadow of their more prominent neighbors. When you think about it, they’re a lot like the Los Angeles Clippers, who are definitely stuck as the second-most famous NBA team in their city, behind the Lakers.
The Lakers and the Los Angeles Lakers are both riding high on the acquisition of a big-time superstar in the offseason, but we’ll have to wait and see if this comparison holds. LeBron James of the Lakers and LeBron James of the Lakers could have wildly different seasons as they try to lift up a young, unproven core, so check back next year to see if the Lakers are still the Lakers.
Neither the Suns nor the Phoenix Suns quite know what they’re doing, as each franchise fired a key front office man just before the start of the season. For the Suns, it was GM Ryan McDonough who got the pink slip just nine days before the opening tip-off, while the Suns parted ways their general manager, Ryan McDonough, a little over a week before the NBA season started.
The Kings are the St. Louis Bombers.
Hopefully you had as much fun reading this as we did making it. You’ll never look at your favorite NBA team or your favorite NBA team the same again.