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Ranking the NBA’s new City Edition jerseys for the 2020-2021 season

(Photo Credit: Phoenix Suns)

The NBA’s “City Edition” jerseys have become a staple in recent years, and even the shortest offseason in league history couldn’t stop the association’s 30 franchises from unveiling fresh digs ahead of the 2020-2021 regular season.

Some teams simply went with updated versions of prior years’ designs, a few decided to keep things basic so as to not rock the boat, and a slew of squads went completely out of the box for a brand new identity.

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No matter what each franchise did, however, basketball fans had their own opinions about their favorite teams’ new uniforms. So, naturally, we did, as well.

As the 2020-2021 regular season gets underway, we evaluated each franchise’s newest “City Edition” jerseys, determining both the worst of the worst, and the best of the best.

30. Orlando Magic

There are multiple jerseys that could have taken the last spot on this list, and it may be considered a “hot take” to some, but the Orlando Magic sit at the bottom of the barrel in our “City Edition” rankings.

Magic fans may appreciate the pinstripes, but the jump to a bright orange jersey sticks out like a sore thumb in our eyes. They may seem better if the Magic were stronger competitors in the Eastern Conference, but it just seems like a mediocre jersey for a similarly mediocre team.

29. Houston Rockets

The Rockets were one of a few teams to stick with a similar “City Edition” design from recent years, and simply updated the colorway for the 2020-2021 season.

Unfortunately for the fans in “H-Town,” the update takes place on a lackluster design, and simply gives James Harden and the Rockets a baby blue jersey to wear.

A return to the old-school pinstripes of the Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley era would have boosted them up in the list, but for now, Houston sits in the 29th spot.

28. Boston Celtics

The Celtics have loads of history in the NBA, evident by the 17 championship banners hanging in the rafters every time the team plays at TD Garden.

So, it makes complete sense for them to go basic and honor that long-lasting history with a banner-inspired installment of their “City Edition” jerseys.

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Unfortunately, as simple and sleek as the design may seem, it looks more like a practice jersey than a true game jersey, which brings it far down in our “City Edition” rankings.

27. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons and Celtics could’ve have been a “27A and 27B” sort of scenario from a rankings perspective, given the simplicity of each team’s design for 2020-2021.

The Pistons honored the “Motor City” with their “City Edition” jerseys for the new season, crafting an emblem of sorts on the front of their jersey with the slogan, location and player number.

Again, simple works in some cases, but not when other teams rolled with creativity and utilized some more appealing colorways and designs.

26. New York Knicks

The Knicks and Pistons designs are incredibly similar from the concept side of the equation, with both teams circling text around the player’s number on the front of the jersey.

Unlike the two cities’ pizza rankings, however, New York wins out in this battle, with a little more color and some true circles around the text to make things stand out nicely.

For once, the Knicks beat out some quality teams in some sort of rankings, but still falter in the overall picture, per usual.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves

Honestly, the use of some brighter colors saved the Timberwolves when comparing Minnesota’s “City Edition” jerseys to other teams near the bottom of the list.

The North Star jerseys utilize some neon green with a sleek, black primary color to keep things straightforward for the 2020-2021 season. Unfortunately, the usual font holds this design back a bit, and a callback to the writing on the Kevin Garnett era’s would have done this jersey some good.

24. Sacramento Kings

Rounding out the more basic designs is the Sacramento Kings, who mixed in some bright colors with a quick slogan for the 2020-2021 season.

The checkerboard sides provide some “pop,” with a royal lion gracing the side on the shorts for something extra for the eyes. Outside of that, however, there isn’t much that makes the jersey stand out, evident by a basic font for the “Sactown” on the front.

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It isn’t a failing grade by any means, but the 23rd spot signals a “C” of sorts if we were giving out true report cards here.

23. Chicago Bulls

Despite the franchise’s legendary history, the Bulls weren’t afraid to shake things up when creating their “City Edition” uniforms for 2020-2021.

Rolling with a bronze/gold trim on a black jersey, the Bulls implemented a nice, Chicago-esque stroke around the uniform’s font for a fresh new look. Add in the unique design on the sides, and the use of the city’s flag on the shorts, and this is a decent concept in the grand scheme of things.

22. Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Rocks, so it makes sense for these jerseys to match that motto for the Cavaliers’ 2020-2021 campaign.

This year’s “City Edition” digs have the hashtag “#ClevelandAmplified” accompanying them on social media, with a loud font choice standing out on each player’s chest.

The team’s usual wine and gold colors serve as a trim around the sleeves, with “Long Live Rock” above the tag and a variety of badges on the shorts to pay tribute to the city’s musical heritage.

It’s a great take on the “City Edition” theme, but just falls short when looking at the rest of the league’s efforts.

21. Portland Trail Blazers

The state of Oregon doesn’t have much as it relates to sports, but they do have the spotlight on the Trail Blazers’ 2020-2021 “City Edition” uniforms.

Between the “unique beauty of Oregon’s landscape,” and the tribute to “tribal nations throughout what is now considered Oregon who have called this land their home from the beginning,” there’s a lot of pride mixed into Portland’s new multi-colored jerseys.

But, the brownish primary color could have been replaced for a more mountain-esque gradient, which would have bumped this project up a few notches.

20. Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will have a fresh look to rock when he suits up under his massive, five-year extension, and the team’s success may play a role in how well this jersey is truly perceived.

Milwaukee’s 2020-2021 “City Edition” Jerseys showcase a two-tone approach, with two shades of blue serving as the base for a Great Lakes-themed uniform.

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The colors work well with the slanted, white font that reads “Milwaukee,” and are a neutral balance between the flash some teams rolled with and the basic approach others utilized.

If Antetokounmpo and company can achieve something great in the 2020-2021 season while wearing these jerseys, they could go down in the history books as something similar to the Lakers’ beloved baby blue uniforms (which we will get into later).

19. Charlotte Hornets

In the second of multiple returns to pinstripes for the 2020-2021 season, Charlotte decided to reimagine a classic to pay homage to “Buzz City.”

The team’s “City Edition” jerseys for the new year feature a baby blue primary color with a sleek black and gold trim, which is also utilized in the font on the front and back.

A hornet shows up on the side of the team’s shorts, and even the sponsored patch looks good near each player’s heart.

The team’s new jerseys as a whole look nicer from a throwback perspective, however, and this “City Edition” would probably seem better if you were to swap it with the team’s new home jerseys for the 2020-2021 season.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder

Announced on “Statehood Day,” the Thunder’s new jerseys showcase the team’s “pride and passion for our state.”

The first jersey to solely feature the state’s name of “Oklahoma” without using the “Oklahoma City” name specifically, these “City Edition” jerseys look great with the bright colors, bold font with a nice trim, and the black to keep things anchored.

Unfortunately, it looks a bit too similar to a racecar’s design, the mimicked stripes on the shorts make these a bit too busy overall, and the sponsored patch sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a nice, middle-of-the-pack look, and it shows up near the middle of this list as a result.

17. Utah Jazz

From here on out, this list gets away from the negatives and focuses a lot more on the positives of this year’s “City Edition” digs.

So, while the Jazz’s 2020-2021 jerseys show up in the 17th spot, it isn’t so much a knock at the franchise’s new look as a successful nod to the 16 teams that beat them out (and so forth for the remaining teams on the list).

Revisiting the design from years past, the Jazz decided to do the same thing that many fans do with their phones, switching the 2020-2021 jerseys to “Dark Mode.”

Transitioning from a brighter colorway for the design, the team keeps its red-and-yellow gradient look with a black base to stick with a good thing. The white font pops, the colored numbering looks great, and they have a star like Donovan Mitchell to bring the whole thing home.

It’s a great look, but may have looked even better with the throwback purple-and-white, a la Karl Malone and John Stockton.

16. Miami Heat

The Heat truly revolutionized the game when it came to “City Edition” jerseys when they unveiled their “Miami Vice” look a few years back. So, for what was such a good thing, the 16th spot on this list should be viewed as a disappointment in all honesty.

Considering how great the “Vice” designs looked in recent years, the Heat’s 2020-2021 installment just doesn’t do the trick. The pink-to-blue gradient looks incredible on the jersey’s font, but doesn’t really work as the base of the entire design.

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A simple black or white with some gradient trims would have been good enough to make this a special design. No matter what, the “Vice” jerseys deserve some credit, so they still beat out a bunch of other squads in these “City Edition” rankings.

15. Washington Wizards

It’s been shocking to see some of the reactions to the Wizards’ “City Edition” jerseys for the 2020-2021 season, given how great the new uniforms look in action.

Washington gave fans a closer look at the new digs on the team’s newest superstar, Russell Westbrook, a few weeks ahead of the regular season, showing the all-star uniform in its totality.

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It’s simplistic with the team’s lowercased “dc” logo, and a unique font for the numbering to complete the logistical information. Then, the sides of the jersey and shorts are where the uniforms really shine, with stars and stripes capturing the theme of the team’s home city perfectly.

It may just look better on Westbrook himself with the navy arm sleeves to top it all off, but the Wizards’ “City Edition” jerseys are better than many are saying ahead of the league’s new year.

14. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets emerged as a team to watch after their performance in the bubble in the summer of 2020, so it seems fitting for their “City Edition” uniforms to match that sentiment.

Performing better than half of the league, the Nuggets’ “#RainbowSZN” jerseys are reminiscent of their “City Edition” digs from last year, almost in a reverse scenario of the Utah Jazz.

Rather than the Jazz’s “Dark Mode” jerseys, the Nuggets went from black uniforms to a more colorful rendition, switching to red as the primary color. The name on the front switches from “Nuggets” to “Denver,” and the rainbow switches from all colors to more of a focus on red and orange.

Denver clocks in as one of the teams that did the minor adjustments correctly, keeping a good thing going in a refreshed way as they look to continue a new era in the franchise’s history.

13. Dallas Mavericks

Things are looking up for the Mavericks as they prepare for the 2020-2021 season, so you know the franchise had to capitalize on that idea during the creation of the team’s new uniforms.

For the new season – the third of the Luka Doncic era – Dallas went with a white and gold colorway, complete with a pegasus-inspired design on the sides of the jersey and shorts.

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The jerseys feature gold “wings” on the sides, with silver “wings” and a gold trim on the shorts to top it all off. It’s bright and a bold change from the team’s usual blue colors, and truly gives off a vibe of a new age down in Dallas.

“For nearly a century, a Pegasus has stood watch over Downtown Dallas, and has become an emblem of growth and prosperity,” the Mavericks wrote. “This season, the Dallas Mavericks are invoking the power of the Pegasus, cast in brilliant shades of silver and gold, a nod to the 2011 Championship.”

These will look great on the floor, they’re great for photos, and are well-deserving of a top 15 spot on this list.

12. San Antonio Spurs

Arguably the hottest take on this list comes when discussing the Spurs, who many believe have one of the best “City Edition” jerseys for the 2020-2021 season.

San Antonio dusted off a classic for their newest uniforms, mixing old school with something new to create their “Fiesta” jerseys.

“The cross street of classic and contemporary,” the Spurs said. “Where big-and-bright meets vintage vibes. Three colors. Endless respect. All topped with the town they rep.”

It’s bold, and does a great job of capturing the idea of tradition for a team with so much history, while still showing some creativity. Unfortunately, for the sake of these rankings, the design is too reminiscent of the Heat’s “Miami Vice” idea from a color standpoint, and hinders San Antonio on this list.

11. Atlanta Hawks

As the Hawks said for their new “City Edition” jerseys, “it’s more than a uniform – it’s a commitment.”

For the 2020-2021 season, Atlanta paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., going with a black and gold design that says “MLK” on the front instead of the usual “ATL” or “Hawks.”

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To top it all off, the franchise announced that “proceeds from the sale of this jersey will go to support economic empowerment programs for Atlanta’s communities of color.”

It’s a great jersey with a great message for a great cause, and puts the Hawks in the 11th position on this list, channeling their inner Trae Young with the number.

10. Indiana Pacers 

The Pacers’ pinstripes are iconic when thinking about Indiana’s history, and the franchise pulled off the best version out of the team’s that went with the striped design for the 2020-2021 “City Edition” jerseys.

Keeping things simple, the Pacers basically updated the old-school pinstripes for the new year, hitting the franchise’s fans right in the feels from a nostalgia perspective.

The Pacers are on the team on the rise in the Eastern Conference, evident by a fourth-place finish in the 2019-2020 standings, and fans in the state likely hope they can capitalize on the Reggie Miller era jerseys for some good juju in the new year.

9. Toronto Raptors

It seems like basketball fans either completely love or hate the Raptors’ connection with OVO through Drake, but it’s tough to argue against the final product that the two sides are able to create each year.

The black and gold works so well, and looks especially strong when factoring in the team’s recent championship win in 2019. It’s clean while still being a bit “in your face,” which is just what a “City Edition” jersey should be.

If this was the first year of the OVO collaboration, this easily could’ve been higher up on this list. But, given the two sides’ history, a spot in the top 10 is the best we could give here.

8. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers may get some flack for just inverting colors for their 2020-2021 “City Edition” jerseys, but if it isn’t broken, why fix it?

The franchise went with a white version of the same jersey last season, with a design that worked well for the squad’s new identity in an era defined by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Should they have gone down a different path after their postseason collapse against the Nuggets? Maybe. But for such a solid design, it’s tough to complain.

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Similar to the Raptors, this could’ve been higher up if it was a fresh design. As a result, it falls into the eighth spot.

7. Philadelphia 76ers

Given the City of Philadelphia’s impact as it relates to the country’s history, the 76ers may be in the best position when it comes to “City Edition” jerseys.

But, the team went against the old-school design that would take fans back to 1776, and instead went with something fresh as Philadelphia looks for renewed success in the 2020-2021 season.

With a black base and a design reflecting the city’s “Boathouse Row,” the Sixers pulled off a unique design that still looks sharp and not too over-the-top.

Mix in the “TTP” reference in the artwork to pay homage to the “Trust the Process” motto, and this one may be the biggest sleeper of this year’s “City Edition” uniforms.

6. New Orleans Pelicans

Some fans knocked the Pelicans for simply throwing the New Orleans flag onto a jersey, but somehow, the squad made it work.

With plenty of superstars to market, the franchise didn’t have to go too bold with their design for the 2020-2021 season. So, as they look to build off of Zion Williamson in the youngster’s sophomore season, they’ll do so in a sleek, minimalistic “City Edition” jersey that perfectly captures their hometown.

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Maybe the props should go to those who designed the city’s flag rather than those who created the jersey, but the Pelicans’ new digs are the most underrated in the league heading into the 2020-2021 campaign.

5. Los Angeles Lakers 

The Lakers’ baby blue design is one of the more cherished designs in league history. As the franchise looks to celebrate its success after an NBA Finals win in 2020, and honor its legacy almost a year after Kobe Bryant’s death, Los Angeles went with the perfect combination for its “City Edition” and its classic jersey.

While the classic version looks better than the “City Edition,” it’s tough to find faults with either design.

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It’s a great reimagining of a fan favorite design, which honors an all-time great in Elgin Baylor as the team continues to honor former players through its “Lore Series.”

To top it off, fans will get to watch the city’s new stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis compete in a classic jersey, cementing them as true greats in the annals of Los Angeles basketball history.

It may be a cop-out of sorts to include both jerseys in this ranking, but the Lakers knocked it out of the park for their attempt at a repeat in 2020-2021.

4. Golden State Warriors

Speaking of an homage to a fan-favorite era, the Warriors went off when they made their “City Edition” jerseys for the 2020-2021 season.

Almost two years after dusting off the “We Believe” jerseys for one last run at Oracle Arena, the Warriors reimagined the uniforms with an “Oakland” touch, straying away from “The City” and “The Town” that the team had used in recent years.

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It signals nostalgia, while given the city’s fans the chance to see the updated jerseys in a new arena amid what they hope is a new era in the team’s long-lasting dynasty.

In a top 10 dominated by California-based teams, the Warriors beat out their “Golden State” brethren by earning the fourth spot on the list.

3. Phoenix Suns

Continuing the West Coast-based success with this year’s “City Edition” jerseys, the Suns made a serious case for the top spot with their installments for the 2020-2021 season.

The jersey’s digitized bright colors, honoring “The Valley,” catch your eyes without actually hurting them, and manage to keep things grounded despite such a creative design.

Through it all, it perfectly captures the idea behind the “City Edition” concept, and signals pride for the city that the team calls home.

“We support The Valley, we play for The Valley. Now, we are reppin’ The Valley,” the team wrote when announcing the uniforms.

Had it not been for two top-tier designs from the list’s top two teams, the Suns could have easily run away with this contest.

2. Memphis Grizzlies

There’s a serious debate that could happen between the Grizzlies and the last team on this list, and we had an inner dialogue about potentially going with a 1A and 1B scenario to top these rankings off. But, just like the NBA itself, what fun would it be if two teams got trophies at the end of the season?

So, we made a decision, one that fans from Memphis won’t be too fond of.

The Grizzlies absolutely nailed their “City Edition” jerseys for the second year of the Ja Morant era, honoring singer Isaac Hayes in the best way possible.

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The design is basically flawless, with some texture to the black base, nods to Hayes with the design on the sides of the jersey and shorts, and even a tribute with the gold font and turquoise artwork.

The second-place spot is something to be proud of on this list, and the Grizzlies did everything they could when they put out a picture-perfect product for 2020-2021.

1. Brooklyn Nets

Finishing in first place in this list, and potentially in the entire league once the 2020-2021 season is all said and done, is the Brooklyn Nets.

For the first year that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are able to play together, the franchise went all-out when it came time to design the team’s “City Edition” jerseys.

Channeling the Brooklyn-born Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Nets painted a masterpiece, going with a pallet-based approach and a variety of colors to stand out in the best way possible.

Between the texture on the jerseys themselves, the unique font choice for the team name on the front, and the splatter look on the sides, it’s all a Nets fan could ever ask for to ring in a dynamic duo’s coming-out party in 2020.

The Nets have frequently nailed the “City Edition” concept in years past, but really outdid themselves for the 2020-2021 season, and earned the top spot in our rankings as a result.

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