Well, I suppose we've come to that time of year in the NBA. With free agency pretty much over, and no Kevin Love-esque trade drama brewing, there is very little to talk about. And I don't hate myself enough to watch Summer League. So with that, I'd like to write a piece I've been looking forward to for a while now. I finally have a platform upon which to rank the NBA's best jerseys.
This list will only focus on a team's current set of uniforms. We shouldn't reward the Orlando Magic of old for having incredible duds, rather we should be scolding today's Magic for donning some, uh, not as good duds. But we'll get to that in due time. In addition, I'll be focusing on the primary road and away uniforms, but I hold the right to bump a team up a few spots if they have some truly great alternates.
I'm glad we got all those rules out of the way. And remember, this is a completely subjective ranking. Feel free to disagree with them, but I doubt anyone will take issue with the team I put at no. 30.
30) Los Angeles Clippers
I have no explanation for how a team of paid designers could come up with this. I don't even know where to begin. Discontinuity between the logos on the home and road designs can occasionally be pulled off, but it's normally wise to stick to the 'Team Name - Home,' 'Team Location - Away' method.
The font on the home uniform is disgusting, as is the double underlining of the word. The blue-and-red trim actually isn't terrible, but it's lost amidst the thick black lettering of "Clippers." The logo on the all-red road uniforms was a somewhat creative way to incorporate L.A's new logo into both uniforms, but it falls completely short here. Having it on the same plane of the number is an attempt at a bare-bones uniform look, and while it avoids being too busy, it comes off as looking like the designer was trying too hard. What a mess of a uniform.
29) Atlanta Hawks
Like the Clippers' new uniforms, these are a case of a new ownership group doing too much rebranding. While the old uniforms were nothing special, they avoided the label of 'spectacularly bad.' These look like they were designed by a Baylor coach who's also really into shoes. I don't like the neon outline around the lettering, or the neon trim on the shorts. The 'ATL' in the road uniforms is a nice touch, but the 'A' itself looks nothing like an 'A.' The main positives of this set are the coordination between uniform and shoes, and the decision to put the 'Pac-man' logo on the shorts. But overall these are still an overly busy mess that are slightly offensive to the eyes.
28) New Orleans Pelicans
A flat-out boring uniform that gets bonus points for the splendid alternates. If the Pels made red their primary road color, they would skyrocket up the list. That said, I dislike the color scheme of navy-cream, especially considering how it clashes with the red trim on the primary uniforms. The decision to have "New Orleans" on both the road and away uniforms seems like a negligible choice, but I find "Pelicans" a lot more aesthetically pleasing on the alternates. Finally, I dislike the Pelicans logo on the shorts. They could improve this by continuing with their theme of New Orleans culture, possibly with either a fleur-de-lis, or a 'NOP' in the Pelican's standard lettering.
27) Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves have a strange uniform that is busy in all the wrong places, and ruins a beautiful color scheme of white-black-blue. For starters, the dual-banded collar is unnecessary, as well as the multi-faceted trim on the side of the jerseys. The font is somewhat gimmicky with several sharp edges, but at least the uniform is not a polygon-heavy as it was in years past. Removing green from the set altogether was a good choice, as it allows fans to focus on the beautiful shade of blue that they picked. It's really a shame that they've cluttered the uniform with excessive design, as a more bare-bones look would allow the color scheme to shine. There's a lot of potential with this uniform, and starting over with a new font would be my first suggestion. But that's the first in a lot of improvements the Wolves' design team needs to make.
26) Toronto Raptors
Let's start with a huge disclaimer here: I'm not sure if these are the official uniforms the Raptors are rolling with. This is a 'highly sourced' uniform leak, but the fact that theres a Drake alternate creates a shadow of doubt in my mind. Like maybe this is a joke that everyone's in on (except me).
For Raptors Fans' sake, I hope these aren't legit. The main positive is the lettering, which is vastly improved from the banded font from the previous uniform. But the striping down the side is a bit distracting, and I've never been in love with the shade of red that Toronto uses. I would prefer the black uniforms to be the primary roads, as opposed to the all-reds. But what really hurts their ranking as a whole is the Drake uniforms. I get that he's a team ambassador and does a lot to promote the organization. But come on. Are they really going to make DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry wear October's Very Own themed jerseys? That's actually a joke, and the gold-and-black color scheme is completely out of place within the set. These would be 5-8 spots higher if the 'Drake Alternates' were removed altogether.
25) Orlando Magic
Yet another design that would benefit from switching the road uniforms with the alternates. The black pinstriped jerseys are easily the strongest within the set, and have a nostalgia factor that elevates them. While the pinstripes are a nice touch from the Shaq and Penny days, nearly every other part of the uniform is lost. The font is ghastly, and even the pinstripes have less of an impact. They curve outwards as opposed to going straight up and down, an unnecessary addition that detracts from the jersey as a whole. Finally, the striped collar is, again, a mess. I don't understand the infatuation with trying to use the collar as a space for intricate design, but it needs to stop. It's another bad addition on a uniform that has lost all its luster.
24) Sacramento Kings
I have always had a soft spot for these Kings uniforms. The use of 'royal purple' has to be commended, but it cannot push the design ahead of some stronger uniforms. The trim on the side of the jersey is too intricate, and resembles a shield that uses several colors. In addition, the font on the home uniform seems to clash with the font of the number. My favorite aspect of the design is the use of a crown for the 'i' in 'Kings' on the away uniform. It's a clever piece of branding, and is in continuation with the edged, jagged font. But while the lettering and color scheme is strong, the limitations with the numbering and trim prevent this jersey from rising any higher in the rankings.
23) Dallas Mavericks
A strong home jersey design that is felled by an atrocious road jersey. On the homes, I love the blue-and-white trim, and the navy lettering works well on the white background. Yet this is all lost on the road uniforms, where gray is the color of choice. The number design is cumbersome, with white outlining gray on a blue plane. In addition, the gray outline of 'Dallas' is quite noticeable, and is another instance of gray that just needs to go. One more thing of note is the off-center numbering on the front of the design. This is a nice piece, and something that more teams should incorporate. When the front lettering is in a straight line, it's a nice touch to have the number shifted to the right, as seen on the Dallas and Sacramento uniforms.
22) Phoenix Suns
One of the newer designs on the list, these uniforms have had mixed reviews in their first two seasons. The design smartly uses the stripes trailing the number to mimic the streaking sun from past uniforms. Yet while I like the white-black-orange color scheme on the home uniforms, I'm not a fan of the purple. While that's a classic Suns color, it seems to dominate the orange on the away jersey. Furthermore, the block lettering is a tad bulky, especially compounded on top of their court design. Finally, the jagged sun on the shorts trim needs to go. It's completely overbearing, and does not show up anywhere else in the Suns' design. While the Suns have historically had strong jerseys, this design is not their best showing.
21) Cleveland Cavaliers
The final uniform in this segment comes from our 2015 runners-up. The color scheme is strong, especially if they ditch the blue alternates that pervaded throughout the finals. The striped waistband is up there with the Knicks for the best waistband in the league, and I actually enjoy the multi-banded jersey trim. My main gripe with the uniform is how bland it is. For a team with an objectively cool sword-based logo, the design team refused to include it anywhere on the jersey itself. If they include the sword into their next jersey design, these could skyrocket up the list.