Every year, diehard NBA fans look forward to a few things that surround the upcoming year other than the season itself.
We as fans have always looked forward to the national TV Schedule, Christmas games, our favorite team’s opening night matchups, when certain players or teams come to our town, when traded players or free agents who jumped ship travel back to the city they were on the year prior, the release of video games and the superstars and rookies’ ratings in them, fantasy drafts and so on and so on.
One thing that lead to the NBA’s increase in popularity over the past decade or so is all of the storylines that surround the actual on-court-play. It’s a men’s soap opera of sorts. A soap opera, that thanks in large part to technology, we can watch almost everywhere and anywhere.
NBA League Pass is the latest thing diehard NBA fans look forward to every year, save for the bill, which was increased this year for one reason and one reason only: more and more people are subscribing, as they should be.
The plethora of talent in the NBA is as high as it’s ever been. Each team has either a player, storyline or circumstance that makes them worth watching. And as we all know, no sports league is better at marketing what it has to offer than the NBA.
“League Pass Teams” are generally thought of as teams who fail to receive a whole lot of, if any, nationally televised games. For the purpose of this column, we are going to leave out the top five teams from each conference due to their frequent appearances on national television, and rank the remaining 20 teams in the NBA.
Here are the best five teams from each conference. For argument’s sake, we’ll list in no particular order.
Eastern Conference: Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks
Western Conference: San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets
That’s general consensus top 10. As the reader, you can select your own order for them if you desire. But with that, we bring you the top 20 NBA League Pass teams you need to be watching this season.
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20. MILWAUKEE BUCKS
This particular NBA junkie will enjoy watching something or someone in every NBA team. Unfortunately, some team has to be ranked 20th. Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo and hometown guy Caron Butler will be interesting offensively to say the very least, and as always, Larry Sanders will be a joy to watch on the defensive end.
19. PHOENIX SUNS
The Suns are one of several teams who are all in for the 2014 NBA Draft. As the roster currently stands, they possess a few exciting on-court talents and we’re all especially excited to see what Eric Bledsoe is capable of in a bigger role.
18. UTAH JAZZ
With Derrick Favors the go-to-guy in the post for the first time in his career, and college phenom Trey Burke running the point, Utah has some young potential, but truth be told, they’re still many pieces away from being an exciting team to the likes of the Utah Jazz teams from yesteryear.
17. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
The consensus is that Michael Jordan‘s camp has blown another lottery pick and paid steeply for a center and shooting guard who don’t play a lick of defense. As always, it will be fun to watch basketball in Charlotte, for one reason or another.
16. BOSTON CELTICS
With the Boston Three Party all gone, Rajon Rondo remains the only piece from Boston’s 2008 championship core still on the roster. As much fun as Rajon is to watch, especially when he’s nationally televised, it will be interesting to see if he’s capable of doing Rondo things without a stout supporting cast for the first time since being named the full-time starter at the beginning of the 2007-08 season.
15. PHILADELPHIA 76ers
The Sixers are in absolute rebuilding mode. With two lottery picks, one of which many believe should have been the No. 1 pick in the draft, Nerlens Noel, the Sixers still seem to be an interesting watch. Many can’t wait to see if GM Sam Hinkie made the right move on acquiring Noel for his All-Star point guard, especially given the Sixers recent track record with big men with knee issues. Many think Nerlens is the exception, however, given his age and potential. Whenever it is he steps foot on the court, all with League Pass will be watching.
14. ATLANTA HAWKS
This is probably the only team in the East outside of the top five that is a lock for the playoffs. Are they great? No. But they’re the Hawks and Atlanta always seems to have just enough in them to make the playoffs and subsequently bow out. Still, they have Jeff Teague, who is one of the league’s most underrated players and perhaps the most exciting player you’ve never bothered to pay attention to. We’re expecting five or six posterizations from the ATL point guard this year.
13. DALLAS MAVERICKS
Since winning the NBA title in 2011, Mark Cuban has been putting Band-Aids on a gaping wound. Failed offseason after failed offseason has lead Dallas from being a perennial contender to perennial lottery attendee.
12. LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Heading into this season with much different expectations than last, the only player responsible for the second-best team in L.A. being ranked as high as they are on this list is Kobe Bryant. We all can’t wait to see how he bounces back from an Achilles tear, and knowing Kobe, he’s not going to come back quietly.
11. SACRAMENTO KINGS
The only thing certain about Sacramento this season is the location in which this team will play its home games. And rightfully so, with some of the best fans in basketball, who refused to leave the arena following their last home game of the year last season. Coupled with the always entertaining DeMarcus Cousins and perhaps the steal of the draft in Ben McLemore, it will be extremely entertaining to see how this team performs on a nightly basis.