The NBA season is upon us, and while many things are still to be seen, like if the Nuggets can repeat or if Shaq will come out of retirement and play for the Lakers, one thing is certain: we’re desperate for some of that sweet, sweet NBA traffic. So we’ve spent some time talking to experts, analyzing the preseason, and wildly pontificating to bring you this list of every NBA team’s favorite video game to play in their downtime.
— by Parker Johnson and Mark Roebuck
Atlanta Hawks – Returnal/Metroid Dread/Deathloop (tie)
For some reason, these guys are all still just dwelling on stuff that came out in 2021.
Boston Celtics – Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the highest points in the series, both critically and commercially. Some folks think that the game strayed a bit too far from the mechanics players loved, but damn, that new stuff is pretty fun too.
Brooklyn Nets – NBA 2K18
Ben Simmons just likes to look back on when people thought he might be good. Poor guy.
Charlotte Hornets – Xenoblade Chronicles series
The Xenoblade games put a lot of people off due to their length, but not the Hornets. They haven’t made the playoffs in seven years, so they actually really like games with long play times, to help pass those depressing summer months.
Chicago Bulls – Michael Jordan in Chaos in the Windy City
Get over it, guys.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Rollerdrome
This game came out last year, combined sick tricks with clean shooting, and yet no one talks about it! Donovan Mitchell and the other Cavaliers can surely relate.
Dallas Mavericks – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
You might think that Tears of the Kingdom is a pretty unintuitive game for a team to play together or even watch someone play, and you’d be right. The Mavericks’ gaming time usually ends up being completely taken over by Kyrie or Luka. A lot of the other guys get pretty mad about it.
Denver Nuggets – Persona 5 Royal
The other Nuggets players have apparently overheard Jokic saying “he’s just like me fr” whenever Joker appears on screen. It’s unclear if he actually likes the gameplay or if seeing his famous nickname on the screen is enough for him.
Detroit Pistons – Fortnite
Veteran Monty Williams opted to come coach the Pistons over other vacancies, and it’s generally agreed upon that it was due to their young, coachable core. Williams was sorely disappointed upon arrival to discover “a bunch of damn kids glued to their PlayStations when I’m trying to get them to run some wind sprints.”
Golden State Warriors – Final Fantasy XVI
Final Fantasy has been a good series for so long it’s easy to lose track of just how good a run it’s on, even with some ups and downs and addition of overly weird characters along the way.
Houston Rockets – Rock Band 2
While outdated, the infectious spirit of this game cannot be denied. When he first showed up to offseason workouts, Dillon Brooks told everyone he could five-star “Go Your Own Way” on drums, and then he failed by the second chorus and somehow sprained his ankle in the process.
Indiana Pacers – MultiVersus
This game really sucks, but you have to admit there’s a couple of pretty cool characters in it.
Los Angeles Clippers – Baldur’s Gate 3
Agreed to be one of the best games of 2023, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game from a team of veteran developers that a lot of people didn’t seem to have on their radar. Of course Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Clippers would love this game.
Los Angeles Lakers – Super Mario Bros.
All the Lakers talk about is how the first Mario game created the legacy for all video games to come, and they seem to put a lot of stock into “legacy.” But come on, guys, Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 are right there.
Memphis Grizzlies – Borderlands 2
Memphis players claim that this co-op looter shooter is an incredible tool for maintaining good chemistry and communication while unwinding in between games. Sadly, Ja Morant kind of sucks the fun out of it by always calling dibs on the Gunzerker and just dual wielding the biggest guns he can find without any coherent strategy.
Miami Heat – Tunic
No one saw this game getting as far as it did in the major awards last year. And while none of us really thought it was going to win it all, it was a nice story, wasn’t it? Jimmy Butler’s face tattoo of the game’s fox character was the best bit of the off-season, and we still can’t believe he took it that far.
Milwaukee Bucks – Mortal Kombat 1
Now that Mortal Kombat has Peacemaker and Omni-Man, there’s really no excuse for it not to be the best fighting game in the world, or at least the East.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Super Mega Baseball 4
After Anthony Edwards admitted he didn’t know who Alex Rodriguez was, A-Rod’s been making them play the latest entry in the series to brush up on their baseball knowledge. Not sure why it’s the whole team’s problem, but okay A-Rod.
New Orleans Pelicans – Slay the Spire
A game with seemingly unlimited ways for players to challenge themselves, it’s perfect to keep Zion busy when he inevitably gets injured in the first quarter of the season again.
New York Knicks – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Tom Thibodeau barely lets these guys get off the basketball court, so playing Spider-Man on road trips is the only way these guys are able to actually see the city. It’s kinda sad, honestly.
Oklahoma City Thunder – XDefiant
The game’s still pretty new, and there’s been a lot of delays and issues, but a lot of people think it could be the next big thing for the genre.
Orlando Magic – Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
I used to be pretty into these games as a kid. I’m glad someone out there is still following and supporting them.
Philadelphia 76ers – Payday 3
The whole team is really having fun with the new Payday game. Well, not James Harden. They won’t let him join their squad just yet.
Phoenix Suns – No Man’s Sky
People say this game has gotten a lot better, but it is also virtually unrecognizable from the version from a few years ago. Many say the game is better than it’s ever been, but I don’t know, I sort of preferred that earlier, scrappier version.
Portland Trail Blazers – Cities Skylines 2
The Blazers were pretty excited to play the new city-builder, but it seems that the game was unfortunately not quite ready for primetime. They’re willing to wait a few years for patches and additional development, though!
Sacramento Kings – Hi-Fi Rush
The Sacramento Kings had no expectations, and ended up nearly beating the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. It’s no wonder a surprise drop of a gem like Hi-Fi Rush really resonated with them. The team reports that Sabonis has a hell of a time getting Just Timing bonuses, though.
San Antonio Spurs – Starfield
Could Starfield possibly live up to the impossible levels of hype? Probably not. But I think most would agree that the long, sprawling game is at the very least technically sound and will provide players with a lot of excitement over the next few months.
Toronto Raptors – It Takes Two
No disrespect, but did you know this game won Game of the Year recently? It’s a fun game to play, but not sure it really belongs on the shelf next to Elden Ring and Breath of the Wild, you know?
Utah Jazz – LittleBigPlanet2
They don’t have PS5 or anything like that in Utah yet, but the boys are having a really good time playing LBP2 at the McDonald’s up the road from practice. Here’s hoping coach doesn’t find out!
Washington Wizards – Job Simulator
With the season incoming for this team, everyone just wants to have some sort of contingency plan in place.