Ranking the NBA's eye-popping In-Season Tournament courts

When the NBA announced it would debut a new In-Season Tournament during the 2023-24 season, it failed to mention you’d need to watch the games through sunglasses to shade your eyes from the vibrant courts.

On Oct. 30, the NBA revealed that all 30 teams would play on special courts for In-Season Tournament games. Whether you love or hate them, you have to admit that they’re eye-catching and give each game a different feel than any other regular season contest.

When the first In-Season Tournament games tipped off on Friday, Nov. 3, the courts were by far the most popular topic of discussion. They helped draw some additional attention to the tournament games that fans otherwise may not have known were happening.

But like the NBA’s polarizing “City Edition” uniforms, some courts are done really, really well and others are really, really bad.

MORE: Why NBA teams have different courts for In-Season Tournament

As we prepare for the second batch of IST games on Friday, The Sporting News ranks all 30 alternate courts from best to worst.

They say less is more, and the Timberwolves nailed simplicity at its finest here. The light blue and white are easy on the eyes and the navy logo at center court is the perfect contrast. It’ll be like watching NBA hoops on a cloud.

The Jazz were very close to taking the No. 1 spot with this purple court that perfectly matched the color of their old-school white cap mountain uniforms. Between that and the vintage script at center court, this was an easy choice for No. 2.

You can’t knock the Lakers leaning into the Purple and Gold here. It would’ve been different to see purple as the primary color, but it’s a smooth look nonetheless.

The Thunder committed to their brand with this court and it paid off. The royal blue and navy is a smooth combination and the orange pops at center court.

Cleveland’s IST court might seem boring since it’s a similar color to any other basketball hardwood, but it was tastefully done. It helps that the NBA Cup at center court also matches their color scheme, but the wine color script is clean.

The only question I have is, “Let Em Know” what?

Kevin Durant put it best when the Suns’ IST court was revealed to him. “We’re playing with a purple court? In the NBA? No way. That’s insane.”

Something about this color combination with the gold NBA Cup at center court pulls all of this together nicely. We should all just be happy the Hornets went away from the “CLT” abbreviation anywhere on the floor.

The Heat will have to fit “The Best Red IST court” somewhere in the franchise’s mantra as the “Hardest Working. Best Conditioned. Most Professional. Unselfish. Toughest. Meanest. Nastiest Team in the NBA.

The Nets’ IST court isn’t all that different from their regular court, but it still looks sharp because it’s a key part of their colorway. Every other grey IST court was automatically dropped in these rankings for laziness.

The jokes are valid about needing 3D glasses to see the “New York” logo at center court but it’ll be cool to see orange and blue hardwood at Madison Square Garden. Spike Lee might blend in like a chameleon when he’s decked out in team gear courtside.

MORE: NBA In-Season Tournament, explained: Format, schedule and more

All the Raptors needed was a single hint of red anywhere on the floor to jump into the top five in these rankings. If you’re gonna go all black and gold, you gotta put an OVO logo somewhere.

Sure, this court makes me feel like I’m going to watch Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen instead of Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield but it’s so unique that it actually works.

Ranking the NBA’s In-Season Tournament courts from best (Timberwolves) to worst (Pelicans)

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