IF you are like me, this season doesn’t offer a ton of promise. As a passionate Cleveland Cavaliers fan, LeBron’s departure not only means we aren’t likely to make the NBA Finals (never say never), but there is immediately less appeal to watch Cleveland play on a nightly basis. Sick. For this reason, I will likely find myself sifting through the league-pass slate on a more frequent basis. Should you find yourself in a similar position, I’ve done the hard work for you and ranked the most intriguing NBA teams to watch in 2018-19.
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Golden State Warriors
OBVIOUSLY, Golden State are the favourites to win it all again. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Until DeMarcus Cousins returns, when they are probably sitting at 43-11 there are more compelling teams to watch.
SAY what you will about Houston’s ‘iso ball’ style of play, this group will be very, very intriguing in 2018-19. Carmelo Anthony becoming a Rocket is sure to dictate headlines with all eyes on how many games he starts/sits. Can he be the missing piece to the championship puzzle?
THE Raps were probably the next closest team to cracking the top-7 on my league pass list. The arrival of Kawhi Leonard leaves the future in Toronto very murky with all eyes on him and the Raptors to start the season. Still, a team with a healthy Kawhi is going to be fun to watch.
7. Boston Celtics
BOSTON is set to dominate the East with their lengthy rotation this season. Not exactly a recipe for a good night to night entertainment, but don’t think for a minute this Celtics team won’t be worth watching. Because they can bat so deep with a bunch of talented guys, any given one could go off on a certain night, with the possibility that Boston owns five All-Star calibre guys in their starting lineup. Besides, who doesn’t want to watch Brad Stevens ATO wizardry?
Image from celticsblog.com
6. Utah Jazz
TO the surprise of most, the Utah Jazz remained relevant even though Gordan Hayward fled last offseason. They have rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell to thank after he helped them storm into the playoffs and there’s no reason why they won’t repeat as a playoff team. Mitchell seems poised to take further leaps and bounds as a superstar with the reigning dunk champ, bound to send Twitter into overdrive at least a dozen times this year. This is the type of team league pass was made for. You can find the Rockets, Celtics or Warriors on national television, whenever you like, so switch that game off and tune into the Jazz the next chance you get. Come for the Utah Jazz, stay for the potential “Gobert block > Rubio alley-oop > Mitchell poster dunk” connection.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
GIANNIS Antetokounmpo is worth the price of league pass alone. I have a good feeling about Bucks basketball this year even if they are going to be potentially slow and low scoring. The go-go gadget arms of Antetokounmpo should be put to better use though, with Mike Budenholzer the new man leading the charge. They slow pace isn’t a problem when Giannis can travel down the entire court in four paces and dunk the ball from the three-point line. Oh, did I mention Giannis is a freak of nature?
4. Dallas Mavericks
DALLAS’ projected record is such a mystery entering the new season. They have the bodies on paper to perhaps cause a bit of noise, but not enough to do anything worthwhile in the West. Dennis Smith Jr and Luka Doncic are must watch talents who will become one of the most exciting backcourts in the league, capable of reeling off viral plays at any given time. DeAndre Jordan is finally a Mav and this could very well be Dirk Nowitzki’s final hurrah. All of this makes Dallas a fun, must-watch team.
3. Denver Nuggets
TO be honest, Denver was a bit unlucky to not claim the top gong on this list. High octane offense is a way to quickly earn a name for yourself in league pass circles and the Denver Nuggets are exactly that. Arguably the best passing man in Nikola Jokic can often be found flipping passes backwards over his head or hitting Gary Harris/Jamal Murray for a transition trey. If you are looking for a break from the generic Warriors train but still want a high level of offensive action the Nuggets are a perfect distraction.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
LET me reel off the top-10 players on this roster to start the season. In no particular order: LeBron James, Lance Stephenson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, Josh Hart, JaVale McGee, Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasley. Never, EVER in my life did I think I would see some of these players on the same team, let alone ALL of them! We all have so many questions that need answering and despite the fact that LA has the most nationally televised games (43) in the league, that won’t stop us basketball junkies from consuming as much of the ‘Meme Team’ as we can.
Image from nydailynews.com
1. Philadelphia 76ers
TWO likely generational talents, another No. 1 pick who is coming off the rookie year from hell oh and their new GM played for the team 913 days ago. There is plenty to like about Philadelphia this season and after last year we saw them turn around their fortunes as ‘The Process’ finally started to come to fruition. A large result of that was the play of Joel Embiid and then-rookie Ben Simmons. With both players expected to continue their growth into superstars, the Sixers might only be a fixed Fultz jump shot away from being the best team in the East. Regardless of their win-loss total, they are going to be a helluva lot of fun to follow in 2018-19.