The first half of the two part SQ League Pass Rankings.
When Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors, many NBA fans feared that the league would be boring this season. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as the NBA has gotten off to an incredibly exciting start. While there will always be good and bad teams, the NBA is reaping the benefits of having fun teams and players up and down the standings.
A committee of SQ NBA writers have put together our League Pass Rankings, which rank teams by how fun and enjoyable to watch they are. The idea of League Pass Rankings was created by Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons (pour one out).
If a team is in the bottom half, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the team is unenjoyable to watch but shows just how fun the whole league is right now. Enjoy and feel free to join the debate below but don’t get too mad if you disagree with our rankings; just “Trust the Process”.
30. Orlando Magic
It’s a crime against basketball that Aaron Gordon is at the bottom of this list after the dunk contest performance he had last season. However, the way this team is constructed, it’s hard to move them up the list. With the log jam they have in the front court, Gordon (arguably the team’s best young player) has been playing mostly on the wing.
A trade to clear up that front court log jam could do wonders for this team’s League Pass ranking as it would let Gordon play his natural position and maybe open up some minutes for the “Croation JR” Mario Hezonja.
29. Miami Heat
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Three years ago, this team was top 5 at the bare minimum. No Bosh, Wade or LeBron will do that to your team, especially when the replacement is Derrick Williams and Dion Waiters hoisting long twos all day. Hassan Whiteside can be fun when he blocks shots, but his offense is mainly just put backs and easy dunks.
Justise Winslow still can’t shoot, so until that happens this team is pretty boring to watch, especially since Goran Dragic’s play has fallen off a cliff since his Suns two-guard system days. Josh Richardson is another fun player to unleash, but this team is just an eyesore right now.
28. Washington Wizards
Free John Wall! I don’t think the Wizards will trade Wall but his name has been in some trade rumors and there’s a chance that a team will make the Wizards a deal that they can’t refuse. This trade will drop the Wizards to the bottom of this list but it’ll be nice to see Wall on a fun team again (maybe we’ll see some more dancing).
It’s a shame that a team led by one of the most exciting young point guards is this low on our LP list. Wall and the Polish Hammer have been a solid one-two punch for the Wizards this year but the rest of the lineup leaves a lot to be desired. Bradley Beal got handed a big contract this season and he has failed to live up to it (he was never going to live up to it) and is also rumored to be in conflict with Wall.
27. Dallas Mavericks
This is a sad end of an era for the Dirk-led Dallas Mavericks. Dirk has been injured most of this season but unless he’s getting the “Kobe-Treatment” in Germany, it’s hard to see what he still has left to offer. Harrison Barnes has been solid after the Mavericks offered him big money when he was exiled from Golden State but I’ll never be thrilled about him being the number one option on a team.
Right now, this team is not good and if they’re on TV, I’m looking for something else to do. Along with the re-emergence of Dirk, the only saving grace for this team from a fun standpoint might be the two-headed point guard duo of Jose Juan Barea and “Sous Chef” Seth Curry.
26. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have very few players I’m tuning in to watch, unless they have an absurd game going. DeMarcus Cousins can be fun but watching him complain half the game and not play defense can get old. If he’s on his game, it would take a 40+ point explosion to get me to tune in. Other than DMC, no one else really pops out.
Ben McLemore and Willie Cauley-Stein would be more fun to watch on different teams, and even two other front offices were fed up watching Rudy Gay hoist deep twos. I’ll give them props for reuniting the UCLA Final Four duo of Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison, but this team is just an eyesore.
25. New York Knicks
Before the season, Derrick Rose proclaimed the Knicks one of the two “Super Teams” in the league. Unsurprisingly, the Knicks have not been particularly super this season. Melo has been solid this season and Three Six Latvia (Kristaps Porzingis) is one of the most exciting players in the league but this rest of this roster leaves a lot to be desired.
Their four big offseason acquisitions (Rose, Noah, Lee, Jennings) have all been pretty underwhelming and I’m not changing the channel for any of these guys unless you put me in a time machine first. The Knicks could become more watchable if they found more minutes for Willy Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas but until then, their watchability is heavily driven by Melo and Hot Line Zing.
24. Indiana Pacers
Paul George and Myles Turner are both good enough to drag this team into watchability. PG13 has elevated his game to be one of the very best and Turner is well on his way to becoming a dominant two-way force. Even watching Thad Young make athletic plays on both ends can be entertaining when he doesn’t shoot the ball.
The reasons they rank so low are that the rest of the team is pretty average and Monta Ellis pull-up jumpers can get old. I really wish Joe Young would get more burn on this team, because he could light it up at Oregon and there’s no harm in getting the young guys out there when your ceiling is the 8 seed.
23. Phoenix Suns
If I were to buy some “League Pass stock” in one team, it might be the Phoenix Suns. Their backcourt trio of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, and TJ Warren have been fairly exciting and should continue to improve (especially if Booker can get back to making jump shots consistently). However, there is tremendous untapped “fun potential” in this team’s young front court.
The Suns took two big guys in the lottery this year in Marquese Chriss and the Croatian Dragon (Dragan Bender). If these two can flash any of the potential they showed to get drafted so high, Phoenix could fly up these charts.
22. Memphis Grizzlies
Surprisingly the Grizzlies can be fun to watch! Marc Gasol and Z-Bo are shooting threes and Chandler Parsons just came back from injury giving their offense some life. Mike Conley has been one of the best players in the league as well, on both ends of the court. The most exciting part of this team though? Sergeant Vincent Lamar Carter, age 39.
Vinsanity is still a thing as the old man is raining threes, playing defense and doing 360 dunks to prove he still can. Along with Trick or Treat Tony Allen wreaking havoc on defense, the Grizzlies have a pretty deep bench with fun rookies. Jarell Martin will try to dunk on anyone, JaMychal Green is actually fairly good, and Wade Baldwin looks like a steal of the draft as a backup point guard. The Grit n Grind is fun again.
21. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are the definition of solid right now. They have a really good player at every position and decent depth. However, they lack a true superstar that they had with skinny Deron Williams a few years ago. They’re led by the Stifle Tower and the guy who can 1v1 LeBron (Gordon Hayward) but neither of these guys will move the needle for casual basketball fans.
As the season progresses, it’s possible the Jazz will move up this list due to their ability to just play consistently good basketball. George Hill has added stability to their point guard position and Rodney Hood has emerged as one of the better young wing players in the league to go along with Hayward and Gobert.
20. Philadelphia 76ers
Imagine this team’s rank when Ben Simmons comes back! With Joel Embiid “dream-shaking” players, draining threes and LeBron-blocking LeBron himself, he has carried the lowly Sixers into a fun league pass watch.
Throw in all the other young guys like Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor, Bob Covington/Hollis Thompsons hot three point shooting, and The Process has given the Sixers a team to look forward to seeing every night.
19. Brooklyn Nets
On paper, the Nets are one of the least talented teams in the whole league. Vegas gave them the lowest over/under win total this season. Casual NBA fans may struggle to name anyone on the roster other than Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin. However, coach Kenny Atkinson has this team playing hard-nosed, team basketball.
While they may not win many games, the Nets looked a little reminiscent of the Linsanity Knicks before Lin went down with a hamstring injury. Trevor Booker and RHJ are two athletic forwards who play well with Lin and they have a lot of guards who aren’t afraid to put the ball up. When Lin returns to the Nets lineup, expect the team to be a reasonably fun watch each night.
18. New Orleans Pelicans
It shows how fun the NBA is right now that a team with Anthony Davis is in the bottom half of the LP rankings. The team struggled out of the gate even with AD putting up Herculean performances but they’ve picked it up since Jrue Holiday’s return to the lineup.
When Tyreke Evans comes back and brings his bully guard tactics to the offense, this team will be very entertaining, especially in transition. Losing their three point shooting in a Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson hurts their ability to run a smooth offense, but any time they can get AD in the open court with competent starters, this team will be an LP darling.
17. Detroit Pistons
Once Reggie Jackson returns, this team will not only be fun to watch, but they will be scary good too. Andre Drummond rebounds like a madman and throws down some monster dunks. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris are athletic wings that go all out on both ends. Throw in Stanley Johnsons growth and the legend of Ish Smith and this team is a great watch.
Finally, the Pistons have the one guy everyone should tune into watch: The Boban! The 7’4” center hasn’t gotten much time on the court this year, but when he does it’s a treat to watch, because despite his awkward frame and lumbering around the court, he’s good! Combine all this and Detroit is a solid, fun team to check out on NBA League Pass.
16. Milwaukee Bucks
The Greek Freak running the point is enough to keep the Bucks out of the bottom third of the League Pass rankings. Giannis is one of the most unique players in the NBA that every NBA fan should make an effort to watch play. Very few guys have his combination of length, athleticism, and skill. Watching him go coast to coast in only a few strides is a sight to see in itself.
Along with Giannis, the Bucks play some of the most unique lineups in the NBA. With most of the league going with smaller lineups, the Bucks have a ton of lengthy, athletes up and down their rotation including Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdan, and John Henson.
Lastly and most importantly, you should watch the Bucks because they have the GRITTIEST player in the league, Matthew Dellavedova. His grit was put on display at times as a reserve for the Cavs but now it’s on full display in Milwaukee.
*Be on the lookout for Part 2 coming soon.
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