Which NBA Team Would Win a Game Based on Nickname?

Could a bull beat a wizard? Could heat beat magic? Could a 76er beat a pelican?

There are a lot of predictions flying around with the NBA season having tipped off this week. Can the Lakers repeat? Can the Bucks bounce back? How bad will the Pistons be?

We don’t care about what might transpire on the court. This is the only game that matters.

Sports team nicknames are often chosen for ferocious beasts, something that would inspire terror into an opponent, while at the same time being marketable to a fan base of all ages. A timberwolf, for instance, is certainly a fierce animal that no one would want to encounter in the wild. But could it beat you in a game of basketball? Hardly. The wolf would have no concept of the game’s rules and, the moment it lunged for your jugular, he would be T’d up and disqualified, forcing a forfeit.

So then, which NBA team would have the best chance in a real game if the players were comprised entirely of the being represented in the team nicknames? Let’s find out!

Inanimate Object Division

30. Denver Nuggets
29. Phoenix Suns
28. San Antonio Spurs
27. New York Knicks
26. Brooklyn Nets

A net on its own wouldn’t stand a chance.

A sun sure would be hot, but a basketball and everything within thousands of miles would melt upon impact. A spur would sure hurt to be kicked by, but we’re only talking about the little round spur itself, not someone wearing one. A net, being that it’s part of a basketball court, has the best shot. And knickerbockers are pants.

Conceptual/Weather Division

25. Utah Jazz
24. Miami Heat
23. Oklahoma City Thunder
22. Orlando Magic

Jazz is merely a form of music, not the person performing it, and while heat and thunder could make playing basketball a challenge, they wouldn’t outright win a game. Magic is interesting, though. While magic isn’t truly a real thing, if it were, it could technically create some way to win a basketball game out of thin air.

Vehicle Division

21. Detroit Pistons
20. Los Angeles Clippers
19. Indiana Pacers
18. Houston Rockets

Trust us, this ship couldn’t make a free throw to save its life.

While a piston helps make cars go, by itself it could very well be included in the inanimate object division. Some sort of pace car or clipper ship, however, if powered by a human, could have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, we are talking about merely the object itself. A clipper ship would just sit there and not be able to make it onto the court, let alone play.

Bird & Bug Division

17. Charlotte Hornets
16. New Orleans Pelicans
15. Atlanta Hawks

Here’s where things start to get a bit more conceivable. Could it be possible for a hawk or pelican to pick up a basketball in their talons and drop it in a hoop? Maybe. But then we’re talking about traveling. Maybe they could nudge or roll the ball down court, but any form of shot would involve flying the ball up to the hoop, thus invoking a long debate about whether or not that should be considered traveling.

Scary as hell? God yes. Can it dribble? Nope.

Ferocious Animal Division

14. Toronto Raptors
13. Milwaukee Bucks
12. Chicago Bulls
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
10. Memphis Grizzlies

This bull could play some mean defense, but 0-0 ain’t gonna win you a basketball game.

A raptor may in fact have a fighting chance, if it weren’t long extinct. Even if we bend the rules to say “what if it were alive”, no one could possibly tame it and teach it a game. Take your pick between a violent male deer, cow, dog or bear.

Lesser-Abled Human Division

9. Philadelphia 76ers
8. Los Angeles Lakers
7. Washington Wizards
6. Sacramento Kings
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Dallas Mavericks

Take away his magic powers, and let’s face it, this wizard would get owned on the hardwood.

A wizard is often thought to be a frail, ancient man who practices magic. Barring his super powers, he ain’t winning a basketball game. A laker is thought to be someone who spends time on the lake fishing trout. Someone from 1776, though they may have been good at basketball at the time, would be long dead. Kings are a little iffy—in theory, they should be strong, able-bodied men, but in reality most are probably a little bit of pansies, having been born into royalty.

Meanwhile, a cavalier fought during the English Civil War. A maverick, in the sense that its name is used for Dallas, is technically an old west cowboy.

True Contenders

3. Golden State Warriors
2. Boston Celtics
1. Portland Trail Blazers

Take your pick between a team assembled of the five best living basketball-playing warriors—an experienced combat veteran; or Celtics, literally any living human of Celtic origin, which apparently encompasses more than just Ireland.

That leaves trail blazers—people who pioneered something and are seen as having opened doors for others in the world. Take a few liberties with the term and you could make arguments that a lot of current NBA superstars were trail blazers. LeBron James blazed a trail for Ohio high schoolers turning pro, right? They would be hard to beat.

What do you think, NBA fans? What did we miss? Would a trail blazer beat a hornet? Would a bull beat a piston? Let us know in the comments!

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