Welcome to another edition of the Shady Sports Uniform Hour, where I, local jersey designer JakeH28, take a look at the NBA’s uniforms for this season, and grade them based off my opinion on how they look. Hopefully, this is interesting and provides some new insight into the jerseys for the league this season. City editions won’t weigh as heavily on grades as the primary looks. I have to give credit to the Basketball jersey database and NBA Lockervision for providing some great insight on the looks each team is wearing this year. Without further ado, here’s my personal grades for this year’s looks in the NBA.
Atlanta Hawks: A
It’s hard to believe the Hawks recently got rid of one of the worst looks ever worn with how good they currently look on the court. Now, with a retro-inspired design, the Hawks are clean. The white association jersey is solid. The red icon jersey is equally as solid. I really like the uniforms having solid, but not overdone stripes. However, the black statement uniform is where things get really slick. This is the proper way to do a blackout look in the NBA. There are colors and design, but it’s done well. The city look is just fine, I’m not a fan of the word-mark, and vastly prefer the MLK jerseys instead.
Overall, the Hawks still got themselves a classic set for years to come.
Boston Celtics: A
Starting the Hour off strong with two nearly perfect looks. The Celtics Association and Icon uniforms are the definition of classic. The green and white always have looked good, and while simple by today’s standards, they hold up remarkably well. The Statement jersey is where things break tradition. A blackout jersey is a bold choice for such a traditional team, but I appreciate the boldness. It’s a great look for Boston. The new city jersey looks fine, but isn’t making a real difference to their grade.
While I may not be a huge fan of tradition, the Celtics have found a great balance between tradition and holding up in the modern era.
Brooklyn Nets: C+
If I had to use only one word to describe the Nets uniforms, I’d use the word “bland.” While black and white can go together and make something unique and special, the Nets are so boring and simple. In some cases, being simple works, but for Brooklyn, it just doesn’t fit the modern NBA aesthetic. They couldn’t be bothered to try and have a good looking font? The statement look is even worse, with literally nothing there. Anything the Nets use as a throwback is probably better than what they current wear. Yes, that means the “mirror” look is better than the boring Nets jerseys they currently wear. Their city jersey also fails to impress.
Being boring and simple is often a curse, especially if it isn’t a team tradition to be so simple.
Charlotte Hornets: B+
The biggest change for the Hornets look this season is the addition of a “classic edition” which honors uniforms from Charlotte’s past. This new uniform, pictured above, is a solid look featuring pinstripes and logos that should make any Hornets fan nostalgic. The rest of the look is fairly average. The association and icon looks don’t stand out among the rest of the NBA. The purple statement jersey is pretty cool in my opinion, and raises their grade mostly because the side striping is awesome. The city jersey doesn’t do them many favors, but it’s not awful.
Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with the Hornets look, but if they updated the primary uniforms, we could see them really stand out among the rest of the NBA.
Chicago Bulls: A
The Chicago Bulls have rarely changed their main look. Then current association and icon uniforms are practically the same as the home and away looks Michael Jordan wore back when he was on Chicago. The simplicity is fine, but the unique shorts design with the logo encased in a diamond pattern is fairly interesting, and looks solid on each of the team’s uniforms. The black statement look is awesome. The retro pinstripes fully complete an awesome design that is another great example of a blackout look that looks awesome. The new city edition is just another reason why the program should be axed.
The Bulls hardly change their look, but they hardly need to. They always seems to be a great looking team on the court, and perhaps one of the best in NBA history.
Cleveland Cavaliers: D
The Cavaliers continue to struggle with their identity without LeBron James, as this recent update to their uniforms is absolutely horrendous. The removal of navy and any dark color in general hurts the contrast, the word-marks don’t look good, and the shorts just look weird. Is there really much nostalgia for the “Basketball-net V” word-mark they use on the association look? The statement jersey is just weird. Small number under a large logo? The city jersey is very replaceable. It is bland, and doesn’t really represent much of anything.
The Cavs need to find a better identity, because this is one of the worst looks in the NBA.
Dallas Mavericks: C+
The Dallas Mavericks released these jerseys in the early 2000’s, and at the time they were considered on of the best and most modern sets in the league. Now, 22 years later, these are showing their age. The side piping with random paneling just doesn’t look good. I appreciate the word-mark treatment, but nothing else is all too special for the jerseys. The statement look is a better version of what they currently wear. The side striping is actually complete! However this one struggles to follow the same color scheme as the rest of the team. The city jersey looks like the 2003 “garbage bag” jerseys worn just once.
While the look as a whole isn’t bad, it’s very dated and needs an upgrade sooner rather than later.
Denver Nuggets: B-
The reigning champs have some uniforms that look solid enough if they stayed, but I wouldn’t be sad if they updated this look somewhat soon. They’re simple, yet inoffensive. There’s very little reference to the Rocky Mountains on the set, which feels like a missed opportunity. They’re still clean, and they really do their job. The statement jersey feels more like a city jersey with the “Mile High City” text, and the separate color scheme than what they normally wear. The new city jersey is weird. I don’t like the “5280” having to be spelled out with the numbers on top of it.
Denver overall does a good job of keeping their look clean, and with the recent championship, don’t expect them to be changed soon.
Detroit Pistons: A-
While the Pistons won’t be wearing the classic “Horse-power” jerseys this season, Detroit still has some good looking duds. The stripes down the side do look solid, and the word-mark treatment is far from bad. The Association and Icon looks are iconic among Detroit sports. As for any alternate looks, Detroit still manages to have some solid ones. The blackout Statement looks clean and modern, fans would probably want a red alternate or the horse alternate to take the spot in a heartbeat yet it still works and looks slick. The leaked city look is meh, but most are this year. Do we need two blackout looks Detroit?
The Pistons seemingly have too many great options, and they would benefit from having more jersey slots open for them so long as they do what fans want.
Golden State Warriors: B+
The Warriors have a really solid look, helped by the fact these uniforms were worn during one of the most dominant stretches of any team ever. It’s hard to go wrong with the blue and white jerseys that feature many nods to the Golden Gate Bridge. The creativity is appreciated. The Statement jersey is forgettable and bland. I really don’t see much worth in this look. Many other jerseys have worked better as alternates such as the blackout look or The Bay alternate that showed the yellow some love. I kind of dig the city jersey, but don’t like the curvy word-mark.
Maybe Golden State will update soon, but I think the dynasty looks are fine. It’s the extra slots where they struggle to find something that works.
Houston Rockets: B
The Houston Rockets are simple, but they don’t do anything to make me hate their look. It’s average, but not bad. The single stripe on the side looks good, the word-mark is fine, but the Association and Icon looks feel very normal. The Statement look could be cool, but the gray stripes kill any chance of being interesting and cool. It could be done way better, even if the gray is just replaced with red. The City edition is just another set honoring the Houston Oilers in some capacity. Is the nostalgia for that team really this important that every Houston team has to use it? At least there’s some team history honored here as well.
The Rockets are average, but they could be changing things up soon with young stars and a bright future.
Indiana Pacers: C-
The Pacers unveiled these uniforms with a very mixed reaction. I personally dislike these, but not to the level some others will hate them. I really don’t like the side paneling with the weird lines, and the word-mark treatment is bad. The main set just doesn’t work, and needs updating as soon as possible. The Statement look is just meant for nostalgia, but it does a very good job being modern with the alternate logo on the shorts and rays on the side. The city look is a chaotic mess. Another reason to ditch the city program.
I still think the Pacers need to lean into the identity they have using the more classic looks, since they are forgettable otherwise.
Los Angeles Clippers: B-
The Clippers uniforms should be interesting and unique since they are the “little brother” team in their city and have to do something to stand out. Their identity is instead so bland and feels like a placeholder. There’s almost nothing on the jersey, and the shorts have a plain stripe that looks like a middle school team. The Statement look carries the set in my opinion. I don’t love it that much, but it certainly is the most interesting look they have. I don’t think the city jersey does much for me. I initially hated it, but as time goes on, it just looks bad.
Maybe when the Clippers move into their new arena, we’ll see some new looks for them. Until then, we have pure mediocrity.
Los Angeles Lakers: A
There are very few looks in sports as iconic as the purple and gold of the Lakers, who have always managed to look slick in any era. This era has no side striping on the jersey, but still manages to have the same effect as the Kobe era and even the Showtime era. Honestly, these uniforms are so iconic, yet not overrated that I have to give them an A. The purple Statement jersey completes the set, some may not appreciate the purple alternate, but I love how it gives the third color some love. As for the city jersey… let’s just say it’s the worst in their current set.
It’s very hard to not have some respect for one of the most legendary looks in sports which is on par with the Yankees pinstripes. Absolutely an all time great look.
Memphis Grizzlies: B+
The Memphis Grizzlies don’t have anything really special about their main looks, but I will say that the color scheme really makes them work. The striping pattern on the Association, icon, and Statement editions look fine. I really like the color scheming with each jersey the Grizzlies put out, everything just looks good in that department. I will say my biggest criticism is the font they use for the numbers and word-mark. I think the weird cutout font looks strange. I don’t know how to feel about this year’s city jersey. That “MEM” word-mark is bad.
If nothing else, the Grizzlies have some nice uniforms and a great color scheme. Maybe using their retro looks more often could raise their grade a little.
Miami Heat: A-
The Heat really have something special with their main Association, Icon and Statement uniforms. The word-mark is solid, the font works, and the side stripe looks good on all 3 jerseys. I find the Heat to have some great looks that need minimal changing with their looks. They’ve been worn during a mini-dynasty in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, and they’ve been worn during Miami’s underdog runs to the finals in the 2020 and 2022-23 seasons. There will be no classic edition this year, but the city edition will be changing to this piece of garbage. Miami can do so much better than this.
Other than the garbage city jersey, everything looks solid for Miami this upcoming season, and they will be in the upper tier of looks this year.
Milwaukee Bucks: B
The Milwaukee Bucks now have the most electrifying duo in the league this year, but apparently not the uniforms to match. Let’s be honest here, the Association and Icon looks are bland and boring. The font is just boring and the side panels with random Bucks colors doesn’t look good. The Statement look takes things up a notch. The antlers on the side make this unique and memorable. Maybe if each jersey in the set used this design, I’d give them an A. I still don’t know how to feel about the city jersey. I guess it’ll be fine, but I don’t think it moves the needle much.
Until they change to something more unique full-time, the Bucks are going to remain in the average tier.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C
If there’s one thing I like about the Wolves uniforms, it’s the color scheme. Everything else looks weird, Horizontal stripes shouldn’t be on basketball jerseys, and the way Minnesota uses them just makes them look even worse. The word and number treatment isn’t great either, everything is squished further down the jersey than the typical NBA jersey. The Statement look is fine but boring. The neon green is much quieter, but the overall look is lame. The new city look is mediocre at best, but the classic look is going to be something everyone can look forward to seeing on the court.
Overall, I think Minnesota needs a full refresh for their jerseys, as they are sitting in the lower tier of the ranking.
New Orleans Pelicans: B
Could this be the last year we see the Pelicans use these uniforms? Rumors have been circulating that New Orleans plans on updating their uniforms as soon as next year. This would be a good thing, because the Pelicans look has gotten stale. The red statement look, which is now updated to say “Crescent City” and generally looks more busy just isn’t great. I like the side striping on all the main looks, but they need new colors, and the word-mark just looks old. The new city look does not represent the team at all, and just goes to show how bad the program has gotten the past few years.
Maybe a new look for a fresh new period of contending would be great for New Orleans.
New York Knicks: B+
The Knicks uniforms are quite average, but they certainly aren’t bad. The simplicity of the jerseys is pretty nice, they aren’t too busy. I appreciate the word-mark here. The statement look also features some striping which is nice, but overall everything here is kept clean and simple. The city jersey has a weird word-mark treatment, but otherwise keeps the side panels of jerseys past intact. Speaking of, the side panels are just what the Knicks need. The black doesn’t seem like it would work, but it definitely was a positive for them up until they removed in in 2012. With the side panels, I’d be willing to bump the Knicks to A tier.
Until then, I feel like the Knicks are barely above the league average. Many love them for their classic approach, but they are boring when there’s nothing really on them.
Oklahoma City Thunder: B-
For as long as they are a team, the Thunder will be compared to the Seattle Supersonics. However, I think most people would rather see the Supersonics than these mediocre jerseys that the Thunder haven’t changed since their first season. Whoever decided to put “Oklahoma City” on the jersey must not have been thinking too far ahead, it looks busy. Otherwise, I have very few complaints about the Thunder’s look. The orange statement is cool, and the city jersey isn’t good. Something about the lack of blue makes this jersey hard to appreciate.
Overall, nothing is special about this look. Hopefully they refresh as soon as they can for this young team with up and coming stars.
Orlando Magic: A
The Magic have always seemed to have some great uniforms, always sticking towards the top of rankings you’ll find around. This is no different than usual. The pinstripes are always welcome. The side panels aren’t ugly, and actually provide some sustenance to the jerseys without becoming too busy. Having your 3 main colors as your 3 main options is usually a positive, and that’s no different with Orlando. The classic edition is a hit as expected, and the city edition is bland but not awful.
Can’t really complain all too much about Orlando, really one of the best looks in the league.
Philadelphia 76ers: A-
The Sixers made some changes to their uniforms for this year! Did you notice? Not likely, it’s just a simple drop shadow change which now is thicker and goes to the right of the numbers/word-mark. This also will affect the Statement edition which uses a script font I am not a huge fan of. Overall, the change does very little to the grade, but I find it to be a better design. I’ve always liked this set, really not much to change. (Although an Allen Iverson era throwback would be really cool.) The city edition is another “City of Brotherly Love” look. There really is too much text for a jersey in my opinion.
The minor update for this year is for the better, maybe some updates to the Statement would be appreciated, otherwise I think Philly can keep these sweet duds.
Phoenix Suns: A-
The Suns finally updated their abysmal look from the past few seasons and have returned to the Sun Burst full time, although it’s now updated. This is a great modern version of some all time great jerseys. The only thing I really find myself disliking about the Association and Icon set is the word-mark inside the sun line. It’s clever use of space, but it’s pretty busy looking. The Statement set continues to be the same black set as last year, and it’s not something I’m a fan of. The “PHX” lettering and side piping are my biggest complaints. The city jersey is fine, but the previous “valley” look was far superior.
This is a great update, hopefully the Statement jersey follows suit and updates soon.
Portland Trail Blazers: A-
The Trail Blazers really do have a good, unique look. The diagonal striping that only goes down one side of the pants is unique, and is an interesting way of incorporating the logo design into the uniform. The word-mark is also pretty neat as it’s a unique font. The Statement jersey was designed by ex-blazer Damian Lillard, but it appears as though they will still use it this year. It’s not bad by any means, and is another unique jersey. However, it isn’t mind blowing. Truthfully, nothing Portland wears is mind blowing. Their city jersey is a boring set once again, but at least it’s not the “PDX” garbage.
Being unique is a good thing for Portland, but maybe a Statement jersey that fits in with the same design as the Association and Icon looks would be awesome.
Sacramento Kings: A
The Kings recent rebrand is elite to put it simply. Everything from the color scheme to the script font is amazing. The side striping isn’t too busy, and adds to the set. You really can’t go wrong with this new set for this young and exciting team. The Statement look is another one I hope stays a while. The fade from purple to black is hardly noticeable, and the checkered pattern doesn’t take over and look ugly. Maybe the word-mark could’ve been a bit better, but I really love this set. The city jersey is a 100th anniversary look, and it’s a solid jersey reminding us of the Kings’ past in Cincinnati as the Royals.
If you take a look at every jersey in the set, the Kings don’t have a bad one. This was a great rebrand.
San Antonio Spurs: A
Consistency, consistency, consistency . It’s what the Spurs have had for a long time. The simple black and silver jerseys are slick, and the side stripe is amazing. From Tim Duncan to Victor Wembanyama, these will always look cool. As for the Statement, it’s different, but not bad. It grew on me the more I saw it used, although gray on black isn’t the best choice. As for the city jersey, it’s alright but it’s fairly mediocre. Missed opportunity to throw in more of the “fiesta” colors the Spurs have in their arsenal.
This look is awesome, and shouldn’t be changed for a long time. Consistency is rarely a bad thing.
Toronto Raptors: B
The Raptors current uniforms are so lifeless. Sure they won a championship in them, but these are boring. The triangle theme on the Association and Icon looks isn’t great, especially with the word-marks. Everything here just doesn’t feel creative, especially when put up against almost any uniform from past eras. The blackout Statement jersey features the same triangle word-mark, but it at least has pinstripes to provide something unique. The city look is the same gold thing they’ve been trying, but now with pinstripes.
It’s only a matter of time before we see a return to the raptor going across the jersey, but until then, we have to suffer through plain mediocrity.
Utah Jazz: D-
There’s very little that needs to be said about Utah’s awful rebrand just last season. The color scheme is now a yellow and black monstrosity, there’s hardly any stripes on any of their sets, (the Icon has the most visible under the armpit area) and everything on the front is too big. None of the 3 main sets are good. The city jersey is their best look, and it’s just a modern recreation of the mountain jerseys worn in the 90’s. At least they look OK? The classic edition is also neat, but not enough to save the Jazz.
Someone save this team. These uniforms are just sad.
Washington Wizards: B-
OK Washington, we get it. There’s nostalgia for the Bullet’s brand, but the horizontal stripes aren’t a great look. Neither are the bland work-marks that are on every single jersey they wear. Late 2000’s side piping also harms the Association and Icon looks, but the Statement has actual side stripes. Despite all the criticism, I don’t hate these jerseys. I just forget about them often. When I see them again, I’m reminded of how mediocre they are. I don’t like the city jersey. Nothing about the word-mark or color scheme appeals to me.
Overall, I really don’t have much to say for Washington. The wait continues for an actual rebrand.
Final thoughts on the NBA uniforms this year.
I really think the NBA has some great looks. Very few teams scored poorly overall, and that’s a good sign. Much of this comes from the fact that I kept the city jerseys from affecting the grades as much. As stated many times in the article, the city program isn’t good and should be axed, but otherwise basketball has many creative and interesting uniforms. I hope you enjoyed this ranking as much as I did making it, and we will see you next time on the Uniform Hour.
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