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SQ NBA League Pass Rankings Part 2

Jake Roth- USA Today Sports

The second half of the two-part SQ League Pass Rankings.

This season has been an immense treat for all NBA fans, with fun teams and players up and down the league standings. In celebration of this exciting NBA season, we’ve put together the SQ League Pass Rankings. This is the second half of the two-part rankings where we rank the top half of the league. 

Before getting into the top-15, check out Part 1 of the rankings.

15. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets’ depth is one of the main reasons they are so much fun to watch. Their big man rotation consists of Kenneth ‘The Manimal” Faried, second year stud Nikola Jokic, and the big bruiser Jusuf Nurkic. On the wing, the Nuggets have the three-headed monster of Will “The People’s Champ” Barton, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler. Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris make up a fun backcourt filled with potential. 

Between the Nuggets’ style and myriad of young talent, basketball is pretty fun in the Mile High City. They can shoot from deep, run in transition, and try on defense. A star will bring them to the next level in the standings and in the LP Rankings (calling John Wall) but as of now, they’re a fun team to tune into on a Tuesday night in December. 

14. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves have been quite disappointing so far this season, but their personnel makes them one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch. Karl Tony is one of the league’s best young big men, and the Bounce Brothers (Wiggins and Lavine) are playing well and dunking on everyone.

The rest of the roster is a little underwhelming. Rubio and Dunn have both struggled running the point, and no one is changing the channel for Gorgui Dieng or Shabazz Muhammad. We’ll see if the Three Amigos of KAT, Wiggins, and Lavine can keep Minnesota relevant all season (if Thibs doesn’t run them into the ground).

13. Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler is quietly having an MVP season. He’s dropping 20+ every night and playing amazing defense. While many scratched their heads at these signings in the offseason, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have proved the doubters wrong as the Bulls are fighting for a top-four playoff spot. Wade learning to magically shoot threes this season has given them the spacing they dreadfully needed. Adding Robin Lopez’s amazing hair and tendency to fight mascots increases their LP appeal as well.

When Dougie McBuckets is finally healthy, he gives them another floor spacer in the front court (along with Mirotic) which will open up the offense even more and make them even more fun to watch. The only issue one could find with this team is Michael Carter-Williams’ cringe worthy play and even more cringe worthy jumper.

12. Boston Celtics

The Celtics were a trendy pick before the season to challenge the Cavs in the East. Putting them in the Cavs’ tier might have been a tad premature, but they’re still a very talented, fun squad and have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. IT4 is leading the charge and having a career season. Al Horford has had some injury problems so far this season, but he is one of the league’s most versatile big men and has been a great complement to Thomas when healthy.

One thing that’s always on the radar with this Celtics team is whether or not they’ll make a big move. They have a ton of assets, including Jaylen Brown, all the Brooklyn picks, and the NBA’s number one bulldog (Marcus Smart). They’ve been linked in the past to the likes of Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Jimmy Butler. While it doesn’t look like those guys are going anywhere this season, if the Celtics are finally able to add another star, they’ll shoot up the ranks of the NBA elites as well as our LP ranks.

11. Atlanta Hawks

Dwight Howard, who has been one of the league’s most miserable players  to watch the last few seasons, has turned over a new leaf since “going home” to Atlanta. He appears happier on the court and is being more accepting of playing in the pick and roll. This Dwight is reminding folks a little bit of the guy we saw dominating the league in Orlando.

Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap make up one of the best front court pairings in the league and their games complement each other very well. These two, Dennis “The Menace” Schroder, Kyle Korver, and the Baze-God are a pretty exciting starting five that look good in Coach Bud’s offense.

10. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors currently have the second-best offense in the league behind the Warriors, and are finally healthy! The little bowling ball, Kyle Lowry, is chugging along and running the point incredibly. DeMarre Carroll not being banged up has been a godsend for them and DeMar DeRozan is hitting Kobe-like long twos with regularity. If he can keep up his hot scoring, this team can go to new heights never seen before on the hardwood in Canada.

All in all, this team is incredibly talented and fun. They defend like mad men and the offensive explosion out of the gate seems like it is here to stay. Having Jared Sullinger back soon will help as well as him and his rear end will be “using what his Momma gave him” to box out opposing bigs. Another exciting potential sight you may see at a Raptors game is Drake making a complete fool out of himself (and who doesn’t love that).

9. Portland Trailblazers

Dolla Dame and 3J make up the league’s second-most exciting backcourt. Either one of these guys has the potential to go off any night. Unfortunately for the Blazers, one thing that adds to the excitement of this team is that any guy that these two are covering has the potential to go off any night as well (especially who Dame is covering). Lillard is an unbelievable offensive player, but he plays about as much defense as David Ortiz.

Along with Lillard and McCollum, the Blazers have two athletic bigs who love to play pick and roll in Ed Davis and the Plumdog Millionaire (Mason Plumlee). Another exciting thing that can happen during a Blazers game is when there’s a blowout, the NBA garbage time king Jake Layman gets more minutes and can absolutely explode.

8. Oklahoma City Thunder

Let’s be real for a second: the Thunder are this high because Russell Westbrook is insane, and messes around and gets a triple double every night. Despite this being a one-man show, the Thunder have shown some flashes of fun outside of Russ’ assault on the laws of basketball. Domantas Sabonis looks like a promising stretch-four who passes like his Hall of Fame father, and everyone loves the giant Steven Adams. Victor Oladipo has been fun to watch, and recently nearly ended the entire city of Atlanta

Obviously this is Russ’s team, but him getting everyone involved and taking his anger out on the rims by imagining they’re KD is incredible (RIP Clint Capela). They’ll be fun for the whole season, and hopefully they can sneak into the playoffs.

7. Charlotte Hornets

Shocked that the Hornets are so high? Most should be, but watching this team is truly a delight, if you’re a fan of team basketball and Cardiac Kemba. He has been insanely good this year, putting the offense on his back and shooting threes like Steph. The always-great Nic Batum and fellow UConn grad Jeremy Lamb (who might have been the most random player to nearly get a 20-20 this year) have provided Kemba with plenty of support on the perimeter. 

Spencer Hawes still has the man bun, which is amazing, Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky looks like he can play in the league, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been healthy and improving every game. The defense is one of the best in the league, they hardly turn the ball over, and Steve Clifford has this team competing every game like it’s their last. A possible top-four seed in the Eastern Conference is possible for this young team, and we will be lucky to have them back in the playoffs with Kemba’s shooting daggers.

6. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers can actually make a case for being the most fun team in the league to watch! Luke Walton has the young guys looking like the baby Warriors. Voodoo (D’Angelo Russell) was playing the point at an incredibly high level before his injury. Julius Randle, Tarik Black, Thomas Robinson, and Timofey Mozgov crash the glass harder than anyone in the NBA, and Randle looks to run the break as soon as he grabs a board. Lou Williams leads the NBA’s highest-scoring bench (along with Jordan Clarkson and second overall pick Brandon Ingram), and might win another Sixth Man of the Year award.

Once D-Lo comes back, this team will hover around .500 and maybe even compete for a playoff spot! The Lakers have a young core that’ll be fun for years to come, and being the free agent destination they are, the Lakers will attract all the big names. Finally, I would be fired if I didn’t mention the top reason they are fun to watch: SWAGGY P HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE! He is their main perimeter defender, and before he got hurt was lighting it up from deep. From a guy who was on his way out of the league at age 30, he has shot his way back to relevance, and is no more just a guy to laugh at for thinking his shots go in when they don’t.

5. San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard’s quest for the MVP has the Spurs towards the top of the Western Conference, despite Tim Duncan’s retirement. Patty Mills has emerged as a solid lead guard while the two veteran backcourt mates of Parker and Ginobili have played solidly in reduced minutes. The only boring part of this team, despite his immense talent, is LaMarcus Aldridge and his 18 footers. 

Along with the old Spurs regime, Dewayne Dedmon and Jonathan Simmons have provided a spark and immense athleticism off the bench. Pau Gasol is still effective at the center spot, and he has someone else to yell at in Spanish again. If this team stays healthy and Pop rests them correctly like always, they’ll remain one of the league’s best teams in the standings and in the LP rankings. 

4. Cleveland Cavaliers

The defending champs haven’t changed much from last year in terms of personnel. They’re still led by the King, but he’s taking a little bit of a back seat this season, especially in the scoring department. Of course, LeBron is still getting his buckets but his reduced scoring role has allowed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to really take a step forward. We saw what Kyrie could do last year in the Finals, but Love resembling the guy we saw in Minnesota is great for basketball fans.

With their Big Three and “Mr. Trying To Get The Pipe” JR Smith leading the charge, I never feared the Cavs wouldn’t be fun to watch again this season. However, an incredibly important storyline to follow with this Cavs team is Tristan Thompson’s relationship with Khloe Kardashian. Rumor has it that LeBron has told Thompson to keep her away from the team since he knows the Kardashian NBA Curse has hindered the likes of Kris Humphries, James Harden, and Lamar Odom. LeBron doesn’t want to take any chances when it comes to keeping the Cavs at the top of the standings and the LP rankings.

3. Houston Rockets

Point GOD Jimmy Harden! In the last couple of seasons, the Rockets haven’t been particularly fun to watch as most of their offense consisted of Harden isolations and Dwight Howard post ups. This season, the Rockets have been one of the league’s most exciting teams as Point Guard Whisperer Mike D’Antoni has given the keys to his offense to Harden and put him in situations to make plays for the whole team.

With Harden playing the Steve Nash role, the Rockets are resembling D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns teams. They’re pick and rolling teams to death which is leading to a lot of Harden buckets, Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell dunks, and threes from Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Trevor Ariza. As long as James Harden stays healthy, the Rockets are a must-watch every night they play.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

Could this finally be the season that the Clippers Big 3 put it all together? They’ve looked like one of the NBA’s best and most fun teams so far this season. CP3 is playing at an MVP level right now. Blake and DeAndre are both potential All Stars in the loaded Western Conference and are complementing CP3 tremendously. However, we expect these three to play exceptionally well along with J.J. Redick and J-Crossover but the difference this year for the Clips is the bench.

When the second unit is on the court, the Clippers are still playing solid basketball. Obviously, Crawford leads that unit, but now they’re getting Mo Buckets, and decent play from relatively skinny Raymond Felton and everyone’s favorite coach’s son, Austin Rivers. They’ve also brought back The Truth to “Call Bank” and bring another veteran presence. Watching the Clips this season (and Steve Ballmer in the stands) will be a must for all NBA fans this season.

1. Golden State Warriors

Is anyone surprised with our number one? KD, Steph, and Klay could erupt for 60 on any given night (sometimes in three quarters). Draymond is playing incredible on both ends but his kicking is becoming a serious problem. Shaun Livingston still has one of the most beautiful mid-range games in the league. Iggy is still doing a little bit of everything for this team. Lastly, they have the “Shaqtin’ A Fool MVP” Javale McGee. The possibility of him doing something stupid on a given night is almost as exciting as any of the previous elements of Warriors basketball.

Watching this team run a fast break is Showtime-esque, and they just keep reinventing ways to get buckets. They are the best team in the league, and until that changes, they will be the most fun team to watch every night. If you tune into LP on any given night, this is the best team to watch, despite their horrific home announcers. You may have to find the opposing team’s broadcast, but the Warriors will put on a show. 

We hope that you enjoyed the SQ League Pass Rankings. Feel free to join the debate below, and please watch plenty of basketball because the NBA is absolutely awesome this season.

Edited by Emily Berman, Coleman Gray.

Who owned the Clippers before Steve Ballmer?
Created 12/8/16
  1. Magic Johnson
  2. Donald Sterling
  3. Jerry Buss
  4. James Dolan

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