Larsen’s 2-Month NBA League Pass Rankings

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I’ve had NBA League Pass for a few years now and as an avid NBA fan, I can’t imagine life without it. It really helps you see what’s going on around the league instead of relying on what media accounts say on Twitter. So at almost two months through the season, here are my top five teams that you should be tuning into when you get the chance.

 

Honorable Mentions

Brooklyn Nets

I like watching great players play, so any time I can watch Kevin Durant (a top 15 player in NBA history, by the way), I take the time to do so. And I like James Harden as much as the next guy, but it’s cool to see Durant take full control of this team at the ends of games.

Phoenix Suns

It’s the #RevengeTour for the Suns this season as they look to get back to the Finals. It doesn’t take long to see that this team has great chemistry and they trust each other — exactly the kind of the thing you expect from a Chris Paul-led team. Deandre Ayton has taken a major step up from last year’s playoffs and looks like a budding star. This team just plays really good, pure basketball and it’s fun to see.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are here only for the Ja Factor. I love watching Ja Morant. It’s not just because he’s a good player and does cool things, but the fact that I feel like he can do literally anything at any moment keeps me hanging on. Does he bank in a deep three at the buzzer? Does he jump from near the free throw line trying to dunk on a seven footer’s head? Maybe he can’t do that last one, but he isn’t afraid to try, and I like it as a neutral viewer. Let’s see if he is able to get Memphis past their play-in spot purgatory. It’s a shame he’s in health and safety protocol right now. Come back, Ja.

 

The Rankings

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

I don’t think of myself as a “hot-take artist,” but I said before the draft that I think in twenty years Evan Mobley¬†will be the best player to come out of the 2021 Draft. I love watching him play surrounded by his cast of randomly cool and surprisingly good teammates. Darius Garland looks like a possible “face of the franchise” at point guard. Jarrett Allen quietly goes about his work at center as a really underrated rim protector (he’s averaging 17 pts, 11 reb, and shooting 70%). I’ve always kind of liked Lauri Markkanen. And Ricky Rubio is the veteran? Strange. So far, they’ve exceeded all expectations and look poised to make a play-in spot. I’m buying in on the Cavs.

4. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls gave an $85 million contract to a 32-year old who everyone thought was slowly fading away. But somehow, DeMar DeRozan has emerged as the leader of this Bulls team while also sitting in the top five in points per game. In free agnecy, I liked the signing the Bulls made, bringing in Lonzo Ball,¬†DeRozan and Alex Caruso. But everyone was talking about them like a top four or five seed and I didn’t see it. But I guess I’m wrong since Chicago is half a game back from the first place Nets. They are a team that play so well together and off one another’s strengths. Lonzo and Caruso can hit shots while also defending the other team’s best guard. DeRozan and Lavine share the touches and the scoring, finally taking some pressure off of Lavine to do all the work. Losing Patrick Williams to a season ending injury was brutal, but it happened early in the season and the Bulls haven’t missed a beat since. They’re fun to watch, they can score, they can defend, and they’re in second place in the East. Let’s see how long this run can last.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

I can’t believe this is happening, but it’s true. The Wolves are 11-14 and the current 9 seed, which is much much better than they’ve been in recent years. But they are also just so freaking fun to watch. Much like Ja Morant, I feel like Anthony Edwards can do anything at any time. Every night, there is a new monster dunk from him circulating on Twitter. I still can’t figure out exactly what his ceiling is, though. Is he destined to be a good guy on a bad team forever, kind of how Booker and Lavine used to be? Or can he be the best player on a playoff team? There is plenty of time to figure this out, but it’s a fun puzzle to try and solve as you watch. I’ve never been a huge Karl-Anthony Towns fan honestly; I have thought he’s overrated and a bad defender. But it’s clear that it has been easier and more fun for him this season with the help of Edwards and Russell, and he’s still putting up 24 & 9 per game. The Wolves are also in a lot of close games, so make sure you keep an eye on them. I would love to see them eventually end up in a play-in game.

2. Charlotte Hornets

I feel like the Hornets are a combination of these other teams and that is why they are special. You have the highlight factor between Lamelo’s passing and Miles Bridges‘ dunks, and the “anything can happen” factor with Terry Rozier. If you told me Lamelo Ball crossed someone up and made them fall, then pointed at them before throwing a half-court alley oop to Miles Bridges…I would have to go check Twitter, but I would believe you! That’s the insane thing is that I would actually think that could happen with this team. Not to mention that Gordon Hayward is a really good, overqualified third option, and Kelly Oubre and P.J. Washington are decent role players. The Hornets got off to a hot start before coming back to Earth a little bit, but they still sit in a play-in spot. With five players averaging more than 16 points per game, the Hornets are a team that I make sure to watch almost every night.

1. Golden State Warriors

It had to be the Warriors. Finally the Warriors are back in contention and they are having fun while doing it. They own the league’s best record (21-4) and are led by one of the biggest stars in the game. Like I said, I just want to watch great players and Steph Curry (top 16 player, all time) is a big enough reason to watch these games. It’s not your usual cast of characters either. For example, Jordan Poole is the team’s third leading scorer (18 ppg). That spells fun. And this team will only get better to watch. Klay Thompson is expected back near Christmas, and James Wiseman will be back shortly after. If they can get rookies Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga to see some game time, it only makes things more exciting. The Warriors are playing the best basketball in the league right now, led by the MVP favorite. Nothing is going to top that. Except maybe…Lamelo Ball crossing someone up and making them fall, then pointing at them before throwing a half-court alley oop to Miles Bridges. But until then, Warriors at number one.

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