The preseason is upon us, starting this Friday afternoon at 2PM. Get excited! It’s now time we can stop working on projects like my 30 years 30 teams 30 drafts, and start writing about the upcoming season. Don’t worry, if you were enjoying the project it will be continued, we’re just taking a brief detour along the way. Over the weekend I officially purchased league pass. In honor of that purchase today I will start my League Pass Rankings. Basically a ranking of which teams I am looking forward to going out of my way to watch this season. It’s basically a riff on what Bill Simmons did a few years back, in which he ranked the teams he wanted to see live with his season tickets. Unlike Bill, and like most of my readers, I cannot afford Knicks season tickets, so League Pass has to cater to my basketball addiction.
Group 1: The Local Teams
30: Brooklyn Nets
I would say “Nothing against the Nets” but it would not be sincere. I flat out hate the Nets. I never hated them before this offseason, but the move to Brooklyn has caused a lot of my friends to become bandwagon Nets fans, which they constantly remind me. Some of them could care less about basketball, they just do it because they know it pissed me off, and I bite every freakin’ time. It’s honestly quite sad. The Nets though, are not at the bottom of these rankings because I think they will be boring. A starting five of Williams-Iso Joe-Wallace-Hump-Lopez is actually quite intriguing and should be good for a 4 or 5 seed in the East. They rank at the bottom because I have no need for League Pass to watch them. After all, these are the League Pass Rankings. If they were not local I would probably have them somewhere towards the middle of these rankings.
29. New York Knicks
The other local team, My Team. Why are they higher than the Nets, you ask? Why not have them tied? Because if I am out of town, I will use my iPad to watch the Knicks on League Pass. Also, as I previously mentioned, I hate the Nets! The Knicks though, I don’t expect miracles from them. I still feel as if a team can’t win a title with Melo as their best player, but that’s another column all together. The Knicks are one of two teams built like a bad fantasy team. You know that guy that shows up and starts downing beers right away and by the third or fourth round he is hammered and starts picking players that were good years ago, but can’t be key players on a team that is going to win the title. That is this year’s Knicks. Jason Kidd. Marcus Camby. JR Smith. Kurt Thomas. Rasheed Wallace!!! Even Amare at this point. They would have looked much better on your fantasy team somewhere between 5 or 10 years ago. Despite all this, I’m still excited to watch them play this year, because like I said, they are “My Knicks”.
Group 2: If There is Nobody Else Playing
28. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons were boring when they were good, an era that seems like it was ages ago. Now they are boring and bad, a deadly combination for the League Pass rankings. Maybe I’ll sneak in one or two of their games if Greg Monroe ends up on my fantasy team and I’m stuck in an intense battle for the week. That is a big maybe. Short of another Malice at the Palace, I don’t really see myself invested in many Pistons games this year. In fact, you may have been better off just skipping this entire paragraph, because that is how boring I foresee their season being.
26. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats first player ranked in NBA Rank is MKG at #128. Quite honestly he is the only reason the Bobcats rank higher than the Pistons, I want to see him play. I was at the NBA Draft, an experience I recommend for any hoops diehard. It’s basically a summit of NBA junkies. Everyone there knows their stuff and you basically get some of the best hoops talk around for 5 hours at a cheap price. I bring it up because we were all shocked when the Bobcats drafted MKG. We had a classic Jordan screw up penciled in where Jordan takes the UNC guy who cannot create his own shot. The point is MKG is worth at least a few live looks. After that things look bleak for the Bobcats with Sessions, Gordon, Heraldson and Kemba Walker rounding out their top 5. They can’t play all those guards at once. They will still be bad, but at least now they may have something to build around.
26. Orlando Magic
Even though Dwight Howard being gone obliterates their watchibility ranking, I have to say, “Thank God”. I could not have sat through another 4 months of, “Where is Dwight Howard going” columns. They may have gotten hosed in the trade, but I still have them more watchable than the previous two teams. Why? I want so see what Afflalo can do in the spotlight. I honestly don’t know what to expect from him. Also regardless of how boring they are on the court, we still may always be able to catch Glen Davis’ son in post game interviews.
Most intriguing for me though is the Dwight Howard “Ewing Theory” potential. This team is going to be brewing with, “Nobody Believes in Us” juice and I want to think that every player on the team, especially those who were after thoughts in the Dwight Howard trade, has a major chip on their shoulder.
25. Houston Rockets
After the Magic I would be hard-pressed to find a team that had a worse offseason than the Rockets. Morey kept stock piling assets and draft picks hoping to score their franchise center they have been searching for since the demise of Yao Ming. Then the big trade happened and they missed out on both big men thought to be available. Now they are stuck with a roster full of role players and no stars. Sorry Kevin Martin, but you are not a star. I’m still not ready to quit on them yet. They have the assets to go after the first star who becomes disgruntled with his situation this season. The main reason I have them ranked above the previous teams though; The Knicks fan in me wants to see what Jeremy Lin can do when given the keys to his own team. I want to know if we screwed up by not matching that absurd offer sheet.
24. Milwaukee Bucks
In the weak Eastern Conference the Bucks may be a fringe playoff team. They have a nice starting five, not very over or under whelming, but not incredibly interesting either. The combo of Jennings and Ellis makes them intriguing enough to rank above all the other teams in this category though. Against a team with weak perimeter defenders, they should pretty much have their way, which will definitely be worth a look in. So if you like watching points scored in bunches, keep on eye on these two, because there are quite a few teams that will not keep up with them on the offensive end, and they will have quite a few of those nights.
Group 3: They Got Something Going For Them
23. Toronto Raptors
They are included in this category based on hope more than anything else. The hope is that Jonas Valanciunas will be as good as some have hyped him. The projections for him have been all over the place, myself, I fall somewhere in the middle, but I will definitely be watching. As a basketball fan though I hope for the best. I hope he turns into a franchise player. I hope he gives Canadians something to root for. I hope he shows some flashes of brilliance this year that keep me just interested enough to catch some more Raptors basketball games. I hope he inspires some goofy parody song on The Basketball Jones. I’m also interested to see how Kyle Lowry fits in, and the Raptors have some other nice pieces, but my main reason for tuning in, will be to see if Jonas is worth they hype.
22. The Pheonix Suns
Like the Magic the Suns have a boatload of “Ewing Theory” potential. Unlike the Magic, they have the talent to actually make a run at it. Granted it will be tough in what is an incredibly deep Western Conference. Their very impressive European stars should make for an interesting season. Gortat/Dragic/Scola can be a force, even without Steve Nash running the show. They are more than likely another piece away from genuinely entering the playoff picture, but at the very least they should be fun to watch. As always say, fun is good.
21. Atlanta Hawks
They were in a tight battle with the next team on this list. Ultimately it came down to which star player I see myself feeling more compelled to watch. The original JWoww, Josh Smith just barely missed out. By trading Iso Joe the Hawks basically swapped franchise identities with the Nets, but it had to happen. The Hawks weren’t going anywhere with that whopping contract on their books, a lesson they apparently didn’t learn when they signed a non-franchise player to a franchise deal back in the 80s. The same deal that earned John Koncak the brilliant and hilarious nickname of “John Contract.” Despite the fact they are more than likely sentenced to a year or two of lottery seasons Josh Smith is always worth the price of admission. You never know when he is going to unleash a play that almost makes your jaw unhinge.
20. Washington Wizards
Maybe I’m a little bias on this one because DC was my hometown for 4 years and I’ve watched and been to many Wizards games. They kind of became my adopted second team. Make no mistake, the Wizards are still really, really bad. They may end up in an intense competition for the title of worst team in basketball. Despite all this, John Wall is still really, really good. He’s a triple double waiting to happen. He put together back to back seasons of 16-4-8 his first two year’s in the league and it isn’t too crazy to think he might take “The Leap” in his third year. Where do you leap to from those numbers? Is it really to crazy to think he could maybe go 20-6-10? Are those not “Must See” numbers? John Wall is the real deal and is fun to think what he may be capable of with a talented roster around him. For now though, we get to watch and imagine. I will be doing a lot of watching.
That raps up our first installment of the League Pass Rankings. Be sure to come back here the next couple of days for parts 2 & 3.