The National Basketball Association is going to Disney World! Have a favorite team and want to know what hotel I think they should stay in? Have a favorite hotel and want to know what team to root for? Great!
Starting in late-July, the NBA will be finishing their regular season and playoffs at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex on Disney property in Orlando. This week more information was leaked about how this would work and the format is expected to be ratified on Thursday afternoon. I’ll explain a little bit about how the schedule will work, but the main point of writing this is based on an ESPN article that claimed (among other ridiculous asks) that some top-seeded teams want to be able to pick which Disney World Resort hotel they get to stay in.
I’ll start by saying that this will not happen. Never. No chance. That said, it is incredibly fun to think about… so I did. Although rather than let the teams pick, I assigned a hotel based on what I think of the team and the hotel.
Before we get there, let me give a brief rundown of what’s going on with the basketball. If you don’t care, feel free to skip ahead. It’s going to get nerdy in here.
The NBA will bring 22 of their 30 teams to Orlando, leaving home the 8 worst from the 2/3 of the season that they managed to play before shutting down. Those 22 teams will each play 8 “regular season” games before the playoffs start. Sixteen teams make the playoffs in the NBA, playing in best-of-7-game series until a winner is determined.
Now here comes the complications: The 16 playoff teams are split evenly between the Eastern and Western conferences. The NBA, however, has decided to bring the 22 teams with the best records, regardless of conference. Therefore, they are bringing 9 Eastern Conference teams and 13 Western. That means there will likely be a tougher fight to get into those top-8 playoff teams in the West (although that’s not new).
Where it gets even more complicated is what happens if, after the 8 regular season games, the team in 9th place is less than 4 wins behind the team in 8th place. If that is the case, those two teams will play a mini-playoff where, if the 9th place team wins twice in a row, they make the playoffs. The team in 8th only has to win once. This is not how it’s usually done and hurts my brain.
So, each of the 22 teams will play 8 games. Sixteen of those will get to the playoffs. One will be the NBA champion. Not a fan? Great, let’s get you a team.
I have ordered the teams here in reverse order of record, so the best are at the top, as are the best hotels. If you want a team that can win the title, I would suggest choosing from the top half of this list (probably the top few).
Milwaukee Bucks – Polynesian Village Resort
The best team so far in the 2019-20 season gets, in my opinion, the best hotel at Disney World. The reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (call him Giannis, pronounced YON-iss, or the Greek Freek) deserves to relax on the beach. Besides, the Bucks have two brothers on their roster who are far-and-away the biggest theme park fans in the league: Brook and Robin Lopez.
The Lopez’ are 7-foot-tall twins who can be seen at most Disney-related openings and closings. I personally have seen them a few times and they showed up in tuxedos for the closing of the Great Movie Ride. Not only will Brook and Robin appreciate the Poly, Robin wanted it.
My pick is for sure the Poly
…but if there were no restrictions, no pandemic, ect, it’s hard to beat the location and comfort of the Boardwalk Villas. https://t.co/3E7D2KBNgw
— Robin Lopez (@rolopez42) June 3, 2020
Los Angeles Lakers – Grand Floridian Resort
The Lakers are the flagship team of the NBA so they get the flagship resort. In this case they also happen to be a very good team led by LeBron James, one of the best basketball players ever. The Lakers have had some down seasons from their most recent title in 2010, but they seem to be back now.
Personally, I find the Grand Floridian a little boring, but it’s all about the show and that fits the Lakers. The Lakers are also Guy Selga’s favorite team, and I never want to anger Guy Selga.
Toronto Raptors – Contemporary Resort
A very nice hotel with very nice rooms. Just not quite as exciting as its Seven Seas Lagoon neighbors. The Raptors are a good team. They were a great team last year when they won the championship, but Kawhi Leonard left to go to the next team on the list. Even so, people forget about the Raptors.
I gave them the Contemporary because I also forget about it a lot. It’s one of the very few WDW hotels I’ve never stayed in. I have been to a Raptors game though, so maybe this is falling apart already.
Los Angeles Clippers – Boardwalk Inn Resort
Oh, the Clippers. They’ve had some fun teams, they’ve had some good teams, but they’ve mostly been living in the shadow of the Lakers. That might change now though, because superstar Kawhi Leonard moved back home to LA after his title in Toronto and is now pushing the Clippers higher than they’ve ever been.
They get the Boardwalk because it also can get overlooked in favor of its Beachy and Yachty sister resorts, but it’s top quality too. Besides, the owner of the Clippers, Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer, is… intense. I can only imagine him singing along at Jellyrolls.
Boston Celtics – Kidani Village Resort
The Boston Celtics are a good team that I never quite trust. They have a lot of good players, a good coach, and a potential star in young Jason Tatum, but I’ve never been totally sold by them yet. I gave them Kidani Village for similar reasons.
I love Animal Kingdom Lodge and I should love Kidani too. The rooms are really nice, the lobby is pretty, and they have one of my favorite restaurants in Sanaa. Yet, I can’t seem to get over the flaws like the lack of Quick Service. I think it’s more me than that hotel or the Celtics, but here we are anyway.
Denver Nuggets – Yacht Club Resort
I assign them the Yacht Club because I really like it. The refurbished rooms are really nice, the location is great, and the pool is the best. That said, it’s not quite the best. Like the Nuggets.
Utah Jazz – Beach Club Resort
Much like the Nuggets above, the Jazz are a team still trying to get to the end of the road. I gave the Beach Club to the Jazz because I think of them as an older team (because my brain still pictures John Stockton and Karl Malone 30 years ago). Beach Club is a hotel I love, but the rooms are looking a little dated, like my memories of the 90s Jazz.
Of course, both the Beach Club and the Jazz are very good. The Jazz have a very good, very young star in Donovan Mitchell and the Beach Club has the best pool at Disney World. How are those similar? I don’t know, I’m stretching here.
Miami Heat – Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the most unique hotels in the world. It has beautiful, African-inspired architecture, a stunning savanna, and great dining options. I will always enjoy being there.
The Miami Heat are the team that are basically the opposite of the Celtics for me, I always enjoy them for reasons I can’t explain. They have a very prickly superstar in Jimmy Butler and a great young center with an equally great name in Bam Adebayo. They haven’t been great since LeBron James and Dwyane Wade left, but I find myself rooting for them anyway. Much like Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can come at me with reasons all day, but I’ll never admit they’re not a good time.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Old Key West Resort
I’m baffled by Old Key West. It’s been there for a long time and I always thought of it as more of a retirement community than a hotel. I like the tropics fine, but wouldn’t go to a Jimmy Buffet concert. Yet, the resort, and the huge rooms, are wonderful. Against all of my expectations.
The Oklahoma City Thunder used to have Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook all on the same team. All 3 have won the MVP of the league, only the last one while still on the Thunder. None of them are still on the team. Yet here we are, watching a team led by a 35-year-old Chris Paul that is still in the playoffs. Against all of my expectations.
Houston Rockets – Bay Lake Tower
Two of the three MVPs I just named, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, have both ended up on the Rockets. Houston is also the team that most stringently uses statistical theories to construct their game plan. Even so, they haven’t quite fit together well enough to get to a championship. Without going into too many nerdy details, they also play a style that is not the most aesthetically pleasing.
Bay Lake Tower is my definition of not quite fitting in and not the most aesthetically pleasing. I like staying there, mostly for the location, and I love the Top of the World Lounge, but it just doesn’t quite look right to me. Neither to do the Rockets.
Indiana Pacers – Saratoga Springs Resort
The Pacers have a star in Victor Oladipo, but he had just come back from a year-long ruptured quad injury. Even without him, Indiana managed to stay relevant, but only the biggest of basketball fans seem to notice.
Philadelphia 76ers – Riviera Resort
I don’t really have a favorite NBA team, I just like the sport. That said, I do live in Pennsylvania so I always have a soft spot for the Sixers and I love their trash-talking 7-footer Joel Embiid, who is one of the league’s best players when he’s not injured. The problem is that the players on the 76ers don’t quite work great together and they’re getting so expensive that it’s hard to do anything else.
I haven’t stayed at the Riviera yet, but its status as very expensive and yet not quite having the same advantages of other DVC resorts leads me to classify it as very nice, but disappointing. Sadly, I think this will be a good comparison to the Sixers.
Dallas Mavericks – Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
My first comparison to a Moderate Resort shows you where we are on the list. That said, Dallas is one of my favorite teams to watch because they have two young, dynamic stars. The 24-year-old, 7’3″ Latvian, Kristaps Porzingis was traded from the New York Knicks last year and paired with the 21-year-old Slovenian, Luka Doncic. Luka is legitimately one of my favorite players and is on the road to a future MVP.
Port Orleans – Riverside is not in the top tier of resorts, but I’ve never regretted spending time there. It’s beautiful and there are some fun things to do. Pretty and fun… welcome to the Dallas Mavericks.
Memphis Grizzlies – Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently hanging on to the 8th seed in the Western Conference (meaning they would make the playoffs). They are a very young team led by electric rookie Ja Morant and the 20-year-old Jaren Jackson, Jr. and they have the potential to be great in the future. Right now, however, it’s all speculation.
Brooklyn Nets – Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge is often overlooked for its neighbors on Seven Seas Lagoon, but it’s really nice. I like the Wilderness Lodge a lot and find it a great resort to spend time at.
The Nets have been overshadowed by the New York Knicks forever. It doesn’t matter how bad the Knicks are, they are the story. That may have changed last summer when two massive free agents–Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving–chose the Nets over the Knicks. Of course, Durant will not play until next season after tearing his Achilles tendon in 2019 and Irving had shoulder surgery in February that ended his season. We won’t know if the Nets can overcome their rivals until next season, but I know Wilderness Lodge can be great right now.
Bonus: New York Knicks – Fort Wilderness Campground
The Knicks are not in the top 22 teams, so they won’t be coming to Orlando. They still wanted in, however, and were under the impression that they were picking Wilderness Lodge, but actually signed on to Fort Wilderness Campground. They are still confident that it is the best resort and will lead them to many titles.
Orlando Magic – Pop Century Resort
The Orlando Magic play their home games about 15 miles from Disney World. Even so, they will have to move into the “bubble” during the end of the season. They’d rather just stay off property (in their own homes), but they’re at least going to get a nice value room. Pop Century has some really nice rooms. They’ll be fine.
Portland Trail Blazers – Caribbean Beach Resort
Caribbean Beach is the oldest of the moderates. Always good, never quite great. The Blazers fit that perfectly: they have been very good for a long time, never quite great. Damian Lillard is an amazing player, and is trying to drag the team to the top, much like the recent lobby refurbishment helped make Caribbean Beach better. Even so, it’s hard to break into that top tier.
New Orleans Pelicans – Coronado Springs Resort
Coronado Springs was always a decent resort, but it was hard to get too excited about it. Then the Gran Destino tower was built and added some nicer rooms, a flashier presence, and some more great dining options. Now it’s a Moderate-plus (or a Deluxe-minus maybe) hotel.
The New Orleans Pelicans were just kind of there. Then they got the number one pick in last year’s draft and got Zion Williamson, one of the most dynamic tanks of a man that you’ll ever see. The Pelicans have a little work to do to get into the playoffs, but it’s not out of reach. Zion’s a player you have to see at least once, and Gran Destino is a hotel you have to try once.
Sacramento Kings – All-Star Movies Resort
The All-Star Resorts have always been my least favorite. I’ve been very happy to see that Movies (and now Music) are getting the nice rooms like Pop Century has. It still might be my least favorite, but at least it’s better and easier to recommend.
The Sacramento Kings have been making bad decisions for about 20 years and that has led to some bad basketball. But they have a very good point guard in De’Aaron Fox and occasionally win games now. At least it’s better.
San Antonio Spurs – Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
French Quarter is my favorite Moderate Resort and, frankly, this year’s Spurs don’t deserve the comparison. This is a history assignment because the Spurs have been great for a very long time, in fact they look likely to finally end their 22-year playoff run this season.
I respect the Spurs and their coach Gregg Popovich so much that I still gave them a nice place to stay. Of course, they have a very slim chance of making the playoffs so they won’t stay there long.
Phoenix Suns – Art of Animation Resort
Art of Animation has really nice pieces, like good themed areas and a very good food court, but it is still a Value. The Phoenix Suns have Devin Booker, an excellent scorer, but they’re still not going to make the playoffs. Sorry Suns.
Washington Wizards – All-Star Sports Resort
The Wizards have the worst record of all 22 teams, but they still have an outside chance of catching the Orlando Magic for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. That said, they’re not very good even with the injured John Wall and the very good Bradley Beal on the team. They get All-Star Sports just because.
Do you agree with these placements? What team would you put where? Which team do you think will take it all at the end of this tournament? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.