This past week I saw that Cut4 (@Cut4) did an article matching up all 32 MLB and World Cup teams. My friend Justin Birnbaum (@JustBirny) suggested the idea of doing the same for the 30 NBA teams, so here goes nothing!
Disclaimer: Be warned, some of these are really a stretch and logic is not at all applied consistently. Some I felt the need to explain, and these picks in no way reflect the way teams have played in the World Cup.
Atlanta Hawks: Tunisia
They wear red, aren’t any good and have birds on their logos (they get better than this, I swear)
Boston Celtics: Brazil
A historically great team. Every time it seems they’ve lost it, next thing you know they retool and are hunting for championships again.
Brooklyn Nets: Russia
Both terrible teams controlled by the Russian oligarchy
Charlotte Hornets: South Korea
Kemba Walker and Son Heung-Min are great and all, but can you name anyone else on those teams? (Bye bye Dwight)
Chicago Bulls: Nigeria
Teams with recent problems with player infighting who sell a lot of swag despite how mediocre they are.
- Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis, John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi
- The Bulls consistently are one of the best selling teams in terms of apparel in the NBA, and Nigeria sold out of their awesome World Cup home jersey
Cleveland Cavaliers: Egypt
With Mo Salah and LeBron James, these teams can compete. Without them they’d be complete garbage.
Dallas Mavericks: Poland
Pass it the sharpshooter with a ‘w’ in his last name that’s pronounced like a ‘v’ and hope for the best.
Denver Nuggets: Serbia
Nikola Jokic is big and Serbian, just like the entire Serbian team.
Detroit Pistons: Peru
Both were gifted their best players by other teams, moves those teams could regret later.
- Paolo Guerrero was allowed to play after an appeal from the captains of the other teams in Peru’s group. He had been suspended following drug charges.
Golden State Warriors: Germany
Two words: winning machines.
Houston Rockets: Argentina
Home of the MVP and offense for days, but both teams play some pretty poor defense.
Indiana Pacers: Mexico
Really exciting until they keep getting knocked out in the Round of 16.
LA Clippers: Iran
Both stupidly kicked out their best player. The good news for Iran is they were able to reverse this decision, not so much for the Clippers
- Iran banned their captain for life after he played against an Israeli team for his club. They of course reversed their decision when they realized how bad an idea that was.
LA Lakers: Denmark
Eriksen and Ball are both among the best passers out there, but they don’t really have anyone worth passing the ball to.
Memphis Grizzlies: Panama
To be honest, they’re all just happy to be here and to have the opportunity to play against the likes of James Harden and Eden Hazard in their “division.”
Miami Heat: Australia
Yup, Dwayne Wade and Tim Cahill are still here but they’re well past their prime and their teams are going nowhere fast
Milwaukee Bucks: Iceland
Loveable characters with unpronounceable last names.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Belgium
“Look at all this talent we have” *is mostly hype*
New Orleans Pelicans: Uruguay
Two phenomenal big guys leading the line, without much support behind them.
New York Knicks: England
Why do we treat a team who always sh*ts the bed like they’re the royalty of the sport?
Oklahoma City Thunder: Portgual
Sure, there’s some decent other players on the team, but this is a one man show if we’re being honest. Russ and Ronaldo also both love stat padding
Orlando Magic: Sweden
That big dude who was a complete prima-donna is gone, but at least people paid attention to us while we had to put up with him.
Philadelphia 76ers: France
Incredible amounts of young talent and not a clue how to use it.
Phoenix Suns: Saudi Arabia
These teams suck. Period.
Portland Trail Blazers: Croatia
They always seem to be everyone’s favorite “dark horse” team, but when are they gonna actually do something?
Sacramento Kings: Japan
Yes, Vince Carter and Keisuke Honda are still here. No, I don’t know how or why.
San Antonio Spurs: Costa Rica
A team of all the same old guys with a star player whose club clearly don’t want anything to do with him.
- The Spurs and Kawhi want nothing to do with each other, while Joel Campbell would probably love to not get loaned out by Arsenal again (he’s been loaned out six times).
Toronto Raptors: Spain
Two of the more bizarre head coach firings you will ever see.
- Dwayne Casey was voted by his peers as the NBA’s best coach last season, which was awkward as he’d been fired by the Raptors
- Spain fired their coach, Julen Lopetegui, the day before the World Cup started after he accepted an offer to become Real Madrid’s coach next season
Utah Jazz: Colombia
Donovan Mitchell and and James Rodriguez are two of the best young talents in their sports, but their talent is covering up some serious weaknesses with the rest of their teams
Washington Wizards: Switzerland
Both led by a player known for trying ridiculous moves, both in no way deserving of how high they get ranked.
Please complain in the comments about who I matched your team with if you must.