Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
The NBA season begins Tuesday, and lot of teams will play a lot of games. Who should you watch this season? We've come up with a scientific method to help you out.
This will be the fourth time I've put together an NBA Watchability list, and it's time for something different. In the past, I've avoided the problem by suggesting that "watchability" is a "purposely vague term" to describe something we can't define. It was an easy way out.
Well, no more. It's time to start defining "watchability" a little bit more specifically. With the help of Tom Ziller, I came up with a number of categories, ranked each team on a 1-10 scale in each, then tallied up the results for a "watchability scale" of sorts. It's still subjective, but at least it's more objectively subjective, if that makes any sense. (It probably doesn't, but roll with me here.)
Here are the categories that go into being a watchable team:
DOMINANCE: As much as we may not want to admit it, we generally prefer watching good teams to bad ones. Teams projected to contend for a championship will receive high scores. Teams projected to be in the lottery will receive low scores.
WOW FACTOR: How likely is it that you will see a highlight play from this team? Do they have guys who will make your jaw drop with a huge dunk or block? Do they have any YouTube sensations on the roster? If so, they get a high score.
DRAMA: Close, competitive games are obviously more exciting than blowouts. Are these teams equipped to play a lot of close games? Is their home arena an exciting atmosphere for close games? This one is admittedly a bit subjective but, if the answer to those questions is yes, the team gets a high score.
AESTHETIC BEAUTY: If you stripped all external factors away from the picture, how much fun would you have watching this team? Put another way: if the Lakers were simply composed of floating masses of humanity, defined only by how they play on the court, would you enjoy watching them? Do they play together? Is there a flow to their game? If the answer is yes, the team gets a high score.
INTRIGUE: Do these teams have an interesting cast of characters? Is there something new about them that we get to see play out in action? Is there anyone you'd especially want to see in action on their roster? If the answers are yes, the team gets a high score.
HILARITY BONUS: If there's one player that adds a unique quirk not covered in the previous categories, we'll add a point. If a specific player has a characteristic that makes the team frustrating, we'll subtract a point. Teams can gain or lose a maximum of two points.
We think that about covers all elements of "watchability." So, without further ado, the rankings. For context, here are last year's.
30. ORLANDO MAGIC
Dominance: 1. They will be very bad.
WOW factor: 1. The Magic might be in a total of five SportsCenter highlights this year.
Drama: 1. They should get blown out a lot.
Aesthetic Beauty: 1. Really, this should be an incomplete. We just don't know.
Intrigue: 1. The whole "can they play better without Dwight Howard?" angle is going to wear off reeeaaaallll quick.
Hilarity scale: -1, because Glen Davis is going to take a zillion horrible shots this year.
TOTAL: 4. I realize this score is the kind you would have seen from last year's Bobcats, and the Magic won't be last year's Bobcats. But they will also be hopelessly mediocre and without any significant young players that we can track to at least think about the future. At least the Bobcats had Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo last year. Better hope Andrew Nicholson actually plays well.
29. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
Dominance: 1. Should be 0.5. You know what? I'm making it 0.5.
WOW factor: 3. This is based solely on the idea that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could be breathtaking.
Drama: 1. The Bobcats will be blown out a lot this year.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3. The Bobcats will press and run, which explains this score. There will be ragged play, but they'll at least get up and down the court.
Intrigue: 3. Again, this is mostly because of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Hilarity scale: +2. Add one point for all of Byron Mullens' three-point attempts, then add one point because DeSagana Diop is still on this team.
TOTAL SCORE: 12.5. Let's not go too hipstery here. The Bobcats may be hilariously bad, but they will still be bad. At a certain point, it's not interesting to watch teams that suck.
28. CHICAGO BULLS
Dominance: 6. Even without Derrick Rose for most of the season, this team should be pretty good. That said...
WOW factor: 2. Taj Gibson is about the only player on the team who could provide a ton of highlights.
Drama: 4. They will play a lot of close games. They will be ugly.
Aesthetic Beauty: 2. Tom Thibodeau's style is like getting a root canal. The procedure is effective, but nobody likes having to do it.
Intrigue: 2. Without Rose, is there anyone you want to see play on this team?
Hilarity scale: -1. Add one point for Marco Belinelli's awkwardness. Add one point for every time the camera puts a microphone on Tom Thibodeau. Subtract one point for the loss of Omer Asik. Subtract
500 two points for whatever hairdo Carlos Boozer will have.
TOTAL SCALE: 15. Rose is the only watchable element on this team.
27. SACRAMENTO KINGS
Dominance: 2. The Kings will not be good this season.
WOW factor: 4. The nice thing about the Kings having so many name players is that they have the potential to do something awesome in every game. That's about it, though.
Arco Arena Sleep Train Arena used to be one of the best home environments in the league, but now, it only awakens when the Kings play the Lakers.
Aesthetic Beauty: 1. So many people who need the ball in their hands. So few balls to go around. If the Kings average more than three passes per possession this year, it'll be an amazing accomplishment.
Intrigue: 5. You do have to admit that DeMarcus Cousins is fun to watch, just to see who he blows up at next. Also, there is the whole relocation thing, though that'll probably get old for those who aren't from Sacramento.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add one extra point for Cousins, because he'll yell at anyone.
TOTAL: 16. The Kings are a bunch of talented players that don't fit together in any way, shape or form. Dysfunction isn't fun.
26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Dominance: 3.5. The Wizards were a borderline playoff team before injuries hit. Now, it's less clear.
WOW factor: 4. John Wall is still really exciting, but they've sacrificed highlights for solid play, so this ranking will go down.
Drama: 3. Verizon Center can rise to the occasion in tight games, but otherwise, it's not the league's best home atmosphere. Also, until Wall gets back, I don't expect too many close games.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3. The Wizards will have a lot of trouble scoring and, while they should defend decently, it's going to be ugly even after Wall comes back.
Intrigue: 5. Can Wall take the next step? That's the question everyone is asking, and seeing that get answered is at least somewhat intriguing.
Hilarity scale: -1 for the loss of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and Nick Young. The Wizards will be a better team for it, but they'll be far less hilarious. Also, subtract half a point each for Jordan Crawford's shot selection and Trevor Ariza's attempts to drive to the basket.
TOTAL: 16.5. The Wizards are expected to be a grind-it-out club that struggles to generate offense. Unless Wall makes a big jump, look elsewhere for your viewing.
25. DETROIT PISTONS
Dominance: 3.5. I believe in the Pistons making a bit of a jump this year, but they still have a way to go before being a playoff team.
Drama: 3. The Pistons will play in some close games like anyone does, but they'll also be blown out a lot because they're a bad team.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3.5. This promises to improve with the addition of Drummond and continued development from Brandon Knight, but last year they had an offense that relied on Greg Monroe's efficient but mechanical post game and Rodney Stuckey putting his head down to draw fouls. This isn't the prettiest team in the world to watch, that's for sure.
Intrigue: 3. Again, only because of Drummond.
Hilarity scale: 0. Nothing really stands out. I would find Charlie Villanueva funny, but Pistons fans won't.
TOTAL SCORE: 21. Without Drummond, there'd be no reason to watch these guys play.
24. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
WOW factor: 6. This is entirely due to Irving, who can be breathtaking to watch even though he's not the type to dunk over people. He's just so quick and crafty around the rim.
Drama: 6. Again, all due to Irving. It's amazing how well he produced in clutch situations as a rookie last year.
Aesthetic Beauty: 4. Byron Scott's style tends to be plodding, but having Irving has a way of making your team play faster.
Intrigue: 4. All Irving, again. Right now, he has nothing close to a sidekick, but if he makes a jump he's worth the price of admission.
Hilarity scale: -1. Add one point for Alonzo Gee's persistence. Subtract one point for everything Omri Casspi tries to do. Subtract one point because Varejao's game is annoying.
TOTAL SCORE: 22. Irving is worth the price of admission, but there's nothing else to get you excited here.
23. INDIANA PACERS
Dominance: 7. The Pacers had a really strong point differential last year, so don't expect them to just fall off the face of the Earth now that they've experienced success.
Drama: 3. The Pacers tend to grind down worse teams, so those games that might otherwise be interesting against a different good team usually aren't.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3. The Pacers run a methodical, half-court offense built around the post play of Roy Hibbert and the pick-and-pop ability of David West. When their bench comes in, the offense becomes incredibly guard-dominant. It's really not that pretty. It works fine for their purposes, but it's not fun to watch.
Intrigue: 4. There's a 25-percent chance that West gets angry at someone over the course of the game. Otherwise, there aren't any overbearing personalities on this roster.
TOTAL: 22. The Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies are the closest things to the mid-'90s Knicks in today's NBA, but the Pacers lack Memphis' personalities. That leaves them with an ugly style that's effective, but not fun to watch.
22. PHOENIX SUNS
Dominance: 3. The Suns won't be completely hopeless next year, but I would be shocked if they made the playoffs.
WOW factor: 4. Goran Dragic is good for a handful of highlights a year.
Drama: 4. It'll be interesting to see how Dragic and company handle close games. The Suns' home atmosphere has traditionally been pretty good, but it'll be tested this year.
Aesthetic Beauty: 7. The Suns won't have Steve Nash, but as long as they have Alvin Gentry, they will still play an open style that emphasizes quick passing and few isolations. Things will flow pretty seamlessly, mostly because Gentry insists that his players take open shots when they are there.
Intrigue: 4. The novelty of watching a Suns team without Steve Nash will wear off after a while, but at least, initially, it'll be there.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add one point for all of Luis Scola's up fakes. Add one point for Michael Beasley. Subtract one point for Michael Beasley.
TOTAL: 23. The Suns should be an interesting bad team, but the absence of marquee players makes them a tough sell for the casual fan.
21. DALLAS MAVERICKS
Dominance: 6. Even without Nowitzki, this is expected to be a pretty good team.
WOW factor: 2.5. There are a few reserves -- Rodrigue Beaubois, Brandan Wright -- capable of producing SportsCenter-type plays, but they don't really see the court much. Shawn Marion and Vince Carter once owned that space, but that was many years ago. I love Nowitzki fadeaways as much as anyone, but those aren't going to lead your highlight package.
Drama: 8. The Mavericks have a way of playing very close games and coming out on top, so in that sense, you're likely to see a barn-burner.
Aesthetic Beauty: 6. Rick Carlisle is really good at putting his best players in a position to do their thing. The Mavericks annually have some of the best set plays in the league, and you can expect that to continue even with a brand-new mix. They just won't run up and down very much.
Intrigue: 3. Without Nowitzki for a while, this is mostly a team of cast-offs and one-year rentals. Hard to get too excited about that.
Hilarity scale: -1. Subtract one point for the loss of Jason Terry's JET wings.
TOTAL SCORE: 24.5. The Mavericks have historically been a team for purists but, with so many of the key elements from those squads on other rosters, it's hard to get too excited about what's left.
20. NEW YORK KNICKS
Dominance: 5. The Knicks should be a decent team, though I think they'll be worse than their fans believe.
WOW factor: 2. Amar'e Stoudemire was exciting two years ago!
Drama: 8. No matter how disjointed their roster may be, there are few things more exciting than a close game at Madison Square Garden.
Aesthetic Beauty: 1. If you enjoy Carmelo Anthony isolations, please turn in your fan card.
Intrigue: 7.5. Even without Jeremy Lin, this team has tons of personalities. No matter how you feel about his style, Anthony is interesting. How Stoudemire fits into the mix is interesting to discuss. Whether Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton can replace Jeremy Lin is interesting to discuss. That's the weird thing about the Knicks. The basketball product is ugly, but the personalities involved make them intriguing.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add one point for all of Steve Novak's discount double-checks; add one point for Iman Shumpert's enthusiasm; subtract one point for J.R. Smith's shot selection.
TOTAL: 24.5. The Knicks are going to be on national TV a lot. A lot of those games will be duds. A few of those games will be exciting. We'll romanticize the exciting ones, forget about the duds and assume that the Knicks are exciting. They are not.
19. TORONTO RAPTORS
Dominance: 4. The Raptors should challenge for a playoff berth this year.
WOW factor: 5, almost entirely due to DeMar DeRozan. His in-game athleticism is really surprising to those who haven't seen the Raptors play much.
Drama: 5. The Raptors have one of the league's most underrated fanbases, and with Kyle Lowry eager to prove people wrong, I suspect he'll come out really strong in late-game situations.
Aesthetic Beauty: 6. The Raptors weren't very fun to watch last year, but that was because Dwane Casey was working hard to instill a defensive culture. With Lowry here, Andrea Bargnani healthy and rookie Jonas Valanciunas getting minutes, I think the Raptors will open it up a bit more.
Intrigue: 4. I'm intrigued by Lowry, Bargnani and Valanciunas, but I'm also a lot more invested in the NBA than most people. I can understand there being a lack of intrigue from the casual fan.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add one point for Bargnani's shot fake. It's beautiful. I jumped out of my seat just thinking about it.
TOTAL: 25. The Raptors are another one of those intriguing teams that could go either way.
18. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Dominance: 2.5. The Blazers have four and a half good players on their entire roster. After that, it gets ugly.
WOW factor: 5. Any highlights that Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum provide will be evened out by how few LaMarcus Aldridge will make. Aldridge is a fantastic player, but when your bread and butter is 18-foot jump shots, it's hard to get wowed.
Drama: 6. I really hope the Blazers play a lot of close games this year, because the Rose Garden is still one of the loudest venues in all of sports. No matter how bad the Blazers are, I'd recommend watching any home games they play against teams like the Lakers and Oklahoma City.
Aesthetic Beauty: 6. This is me taking a leap of faith, but I think their offense will be more fun to watch this year. Lillard's already a pro at running pick and roll, and new coach Terry Stotts will (hopefully) find ways to open the floor to take advantage of Nicolas Batum. No matter what happens, it'll be better than seeing Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford share a backcourt.
Intrigue: 3.5. Lillard could be exciting, but he's still a rookie. Bloggers are excited about him, but we make up such a small percentage of the NBA viewing audience.
TOTAL: 25. The Blazers have the potential to be a fun bad team after being a really boring bad team last year, but it'll require a quick adjustment for Lillard to make it happen.
17. ATLANTA HAWKS
WOW factor: 7. Most of this team is more solid than spectacular, but there are two major exceptions: Josh Smith and Jeff Teague. Smith's coast-to-coast breaks have dwindled as he's gotten older, but he's still one of the five most athletic forwards in basketball. Teague, meanwhile, has sneaky explosiveness that he uses on both ends of the floor.
Drama: 3. The Hawks were known for being blown out all the time in years past, and blowouts are lame. But maybe that changes without Johnson around.
Aesthetic Beauty: 6. The change from ISO-JOE to whatever more wide-open style the Hawks use will make a huge difference, but since we don't know what that system will be, let's hedge and make this a 6.
Characters: 4.5. Hard to tell here, really. Johnson was pretty boring, but other than Smith is there anyone you're really desperate to watch?
Hilarity bonus?: Even. Add one point for Zaza Pachulia's random scuffles with other bigs; subtract one point for all of Josh Smith's jump shots.
TOTAL SCORE: 25.5. The Hawks are such a mystery because Johnson made such a huge difference with their style of play. It's possible they morph into a League Pass favorite, but there are too many new pieces for us to place them any higher.
16. MILWAUKEE BUCKS
Dominance: 4. They should be mediocre, so they get a mediocre rating.
WOW factor: 6. This is entirely due to Monta Ellis, who was a League Pass favorite during the Warriors. He was a bit underwhelming early in his Bucks career, but I have faith that he'll be better this year.
Drama: 5.5. The Bucks will be interesting on the court in close games because of the shot-creating skills of Jennings and Ellis. Their home atmosphere is kind of lame, though.
Aesthetic Beauty: 5.5. It really depends what Bucks team we see. On the one hand, they pass and cut better than almost anyone in the league while really spreading the scoring around. On the other hand, man, Jennings and Ellis take a lot of bad shots.
Intrigue: 4. This is an odd team with an odd style, but they do have Jennings and Ellis. Their names are more interesting than their talent.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add a half point for Samuel Dalembert's inevitable goaltends; add another half-point for the guy you're with that makes fun of Mike Dunleavy as he makes a play.
TOTAL: 26. The Bucks are definitely entertaining on some level, but only in small doses. The shot selection from Jennings and Ellis gets old after a while.
15. BOSTON CELTICS
Dominance: 7. The Celtics should be very good this year, even when you consider the annual 20-game stretch where their veterans don't really care.
Drama: 5. The Celtics played in a lot of close games last year, but rarely did those games look especially exciting. Still, you can usually count on them staying relatively competitive.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3. The Celtics have run a lot more in the preseason, but last year this was one of the five most excruciating offenses in basketball. I'd make this a 1, but there's enough evidence to suggest that the preseason play will carry over. Then again, good luck telling Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to get up the court on a road back-to-back in mid-February.
Intrigue: 8. The Celtics certainly have a ton of characters in Garnett, Pierce and Rondo. If anything, they're more fun to follow than watch. But, especially in big games, you usually will get plenty of extracurricular activity with these stars.
Hilarity scale: 0. This is the space where I'm supposed to add in Rajon Rondo's attempts to fake behind-the-back passes but, since nobody gets confused anymore, I won't.
TOTAL SCORE: 26. The Celtics are supposed to play more of a wide-open style this year, but I'll need to see it in action in the regular season before I really believe in it.
14. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
WOW factor: 5. The 76ers have some exciting players who get neutered a bit because of Doug Collins' offensive system. More on that in a bit.
Drama: 4. The good: Jrue Holiday is surprisingly lethal in tight situations, especially when you go under the screen on a pick and roll. The bad: the 76ers didn't play many close games last year and probably will blow out a lot of bad teams again this season.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3. This is my biggest problem with the roster. They have a ton of great athletes, but Collins is so risk-averse that he has them shooting a bunch of mid-range jumpers. You can't really count on too many hard drives to the basket. Although they run off steals, they were also 24th in the league in pace last year. In the short term, the 76ers' identity crisis will only get worse once Bynum comes back, because he'll require them to change their style dramatically. It may eventually work out, but I expect a lot of turbulence along the way that will ruin their flow.
Intrigue: 7. Everyone is curious to see how Bynum will play now that he has his own franchise. Can he dominate games without Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol there to help him? Will it be easier for him to dominate games without Kobe and Pau helping him? Will he mesh with his current teammates? It's all unknown, and few things are more intriguing than the unknown.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add one point for Spencer Hawes' mullet. Add one point for Nick Young's many hairstyles. Subtract one point for Nick Young's many errant shots.
TOTAL: 26. You look at this roster, and it should be exciting. But if Bynum disappoints, Collins can't connect with him and the roster can't mesh, it could get ugly.
13. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Dominance: 7.5. They are a very good team that should challenge 50 wins again.
WOW factor: 2. They don't really have any highlight-makers on their team. Rudy Gay should be that guy, but he doesn't really play above the rim much anymore.
Drama: 5. Their home arena can be hit-or-miss. In big, close games, it's as loud as any. In other games, though, it can be pretty lame.
Aesthetic Beauty: 3. This team grinds it out and beats you up. They don't mind winning ugly. That makes them appealing to a small set of basketball fans that wants teams to beat up each other instead of outplay each other in the game of basketball.
Intrigue: 8. This is the big reason to watch the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph is a character. Tony Allen is most definitely a character. They're feisty and they don't back down from anyone. If you like seeing tough, aggressive players, you'll love Memphis.
Hilarity scale: +1 for everything Allen does.
TOTAL SCORE: 26.5. They're the Pacers with interesting characters, which is why they're ranked much higher.
12. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Dominance: 2.5. They won't be very good this season.
WOW factor: 9. Entirely due to Anthony Davis.
Drama: 4. They may struggle in close games due to their poor point-guard play. We also don't know how loud their home arena will be right off the bat.
Aesthetic Beauty: 5. Davis himself is exciting, but Monty Williams tends to prefer a slower style that's heavy on set plays. I'm not sure I could ever see him opening up the court and letting Davis run opponents ragged.
Intrigue: 8. Again, entirely due to Davis. What can he do? What is his game? How will he change games? We don't know the answer to these questions but, soon, we will.
Hilarity score: -1. Add one point for the Brow. Subtract one point for everything Robin Lopez does. Subtract one point for Greivis Vasquez's rat tail.
TOTAL: 27.5. Davis is going to be worth the price of admission, but what of his teammates? What do we really know about how this Hornets team will play? For now, enjoy Davis and let the rest sort itself out.
11. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Dominance: 4.5. The Warriors have a really nice team on paper, but this is the Warriors. I'm not going to assume they'll be good until I see them actually be good.
WOW factor: 4. It'll be mesmerizing to see Klay Thompson pull up from 35 feet. If Chris Berman called Warriors games ... actually, let's not imagine Chris Berman calling Warriors games.
Drama: 6.5. The Warriors are a great offensive team on paper that should struggle defensively until Andrew Bogutcomes back healthy. That lends itself to tight games, especially at home, where they always seem to play much better.
Aesthetic Beauty: 8.5. Again, WHEN HEALTHY, this team can trot out shooters at every position with a big man in Bogut that brings it all together. It'll be a pleasure watching Thompson and Harrison Barnes run the wings for three-pointers in transition. It'll be great to see Stephen Curry, WHEN HEALTHY, finagle open jumpers out of nowhere. You know what? Let's just call them the WHEN HEALTHY Warriors. That team will be fun to watch.
Intrigue: 5. Curry is interesting, Barnes is always fun to talk about because of his pedigree and there's something about Mark Jackson: Head Coach that still makes me laugh. But, by and large, I'm not paying top dollar to see this mix.
Hilarity scale: 0. Add one point for all of Thompson's absurd shots; subtract one point for Andris Biedrins' sad fall from grace.
TOTAL SCORE: 28.5. Good or bad, this team will certainly be entertaining.
10. UTAH JAZZ
Dominance: 6.5. The Jazz should be very good, though probably a bit short of elite.
WOW factor: 6. It all depends on how much Derrick Favors plays and develops. I'm pretty high on him, so I expect he'll play a lot more this year. If he plays a lot more, he'll have more chances to come up with jaw-dropping blocks and dunks.
Drama: 6. There are few things more exciting than a close game at Energy Solutions Arena, but it's a different story when the Jazz are on the road.
Aesthetic Beauty: 7.5. The Jazz continue to employ a Flex offense, post-oriented style, but they also really run the floor well, especially at home. They have their wings run from corner to corner, which opens up driving lanes and confuses the defense. It's unique and it leads to some good offense.
Intrigue: 5. The Jazz don't really have any stars, but they are very deep, especially up front. We'll hedge this and give an average ranking.
Hilarity scale: 0. Enes Kanter is less hilarious now that he's lost a lot of weight.
TOTAL: 31. The Jazz are always a quality watch, especially when they're playing at home.
9. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Drama: 7.5. The Timberwolves have a big shot-maker in Love, and we all know what a healthy Roy is capable of doing in big spots.
Aesthetic Beauty: 8.5. Rick Adelman is the perfect coach for a team headlined by Rubio and Love. Throw in Nikola Pekovic's post play, Kirilenko's cutting and Roy's ability to score off the catch, and this should be one of the most free-flowing offenses in the league.
Intrigue: 5. Rubio himself is worth the price of admission, but he's out until January. Until then, at least appreciate how good Love is.
Hilarity scale: +1, mostly because they don't have Michael Beasley anymore. I hate watching Beasley play.
TOTAL: 34. They'll be one of the league's most fun teams once Rubio comes back. Until then, they're about average.
8. BROOKLYN NETS
Dominance: 7. The Nets will probably be pretty good this year, though how good depends on whether they can play passable defense.
WOW factor: 4. The Nets have a lot of good players, but you don't see guys like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez in too many eye-catching highlights. Maybe Gerald Wallace can bring that dimension, but he's not the same athletic terror he was four years ago.
Drama: 8. Close games at the Barclays Center will be great this year.
Aesthetic Beauty: 8.5. There's a lot of kinks to work out but, in theory, an offense featuring Williams, Johnson, Wallace and Lopez works beautifully together. Williams and Johnson will get Lopez easy looks on pick and pops, and Wallace will get plenty of layups running the baseline.
Intrigue: 7. There's something to the idea that the Nets, while talented, don't have any PERSONALITIES that will bring you to the stadium. On the other hand, Deron Williams' quote game is going to be better than most think, and the whole "Brooklyn" thing will be shoved down our throats enough for us to get pumped.
Hilarity scale: 0. Add one point for #Baltche; subtract one point for all the annoying things Reggie Evans does.
TOTAL SCORE: 35.5. This may seem a bit high, but I have a feeling that the Nets are going to captivate people this year, even if they aren't a contender.
7. SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Dominance: 10. The Spurs just have a way of running you off the court. They should be good again this year, and it wouldn't surprise me if they had the league's best regular-season record yet again.
WOW factor: 5. There are times when Manu Ginobili will make a breathtaking play, and I would also expect Kawhi Leonard to be on SportsCenter more than he was last year. By and large, though, this is a team that picks you apart with ruthless efficiency.
Drama: 4. The Spurs tend to destroy teams before the games can get close, so they suffer in this department.
Aesthetic Beauty: 10. I'll just come out and say it: if you don't like watching the Spurs play basketball, you don't like basketball. Perhaps they lack interesting characters, but if we're just talking about style of play, no team shares the ball better. The only justification for calling the Spurs boring at this point is that they're too good.
Intrigue: 6. I'm probably being a bit generous here.
Hilarity scale: +1 for Matt Bonner's floaters.
TOTAL: 36. The Spurs are caught in a weird place between their on-court product and their reputation. I can kinda/sorta understand the argument that they're too ruthlessly efficient and bland for their own good, but for me, their style of play far outweighs those concerns. I'd put the Spurs higher than this myself, but we'll bump them down just a tiny bit for the rest of you.
6. HOUSTON ROCKETS
Dominance: 4. This was at a 2 before the James Harden trade. Now, I think they can challenge for the playoffs.
Drama: 6.5. Hard to say how many tight games this team will play, but you can expect Harden and Lin to have the ball in their hands when those games happen. You saw how fun those games were for their respective teams last year.
Aesthetic Beauty: 9. Kevin McHale prefers a free-flowing offensive style and, with Harden and Lin, you can expect a ton of pick and rolls and lots of off-ball movement. Chandler Parsons is underrated in this regard. He does a lot to preserve Houston's style. If you really want to figure out how a role player should play, watch how he cuts and moves.
Intrigue: 10. This was high even before the trade for Harden, and it's even higher now.
Hilarity scale: +2. Add a point each for Omer Asik's attempts to play offense and anything White does when he plays.
TOTAL: 38.5. This was already slated to be a fun bad team before the shocking Harden trade. Now, they're going to be a really fun average team. Another club that users on the five-team plan must pick.
5. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Dominance: 8. It'll be interesting to see just how good they are this year but, chances are, they're winning 50 games.
WOW factor: 10. They aren't called "Lob City" for nothing.
Drama: 9. They play in a ton of close games, and nothing is more captivating than Chris Paul in a close game.
Aesthetic Beauty: 5. The Clippers have a stylistic conflict with their stars. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan want to get up and down, but Paul wants to grind games out. Despite all their highlights, they don't play very cohesively. Vinny Del Negro deserves some blame too for not designing offensive sets that can better take advantage of Paul's creativity.
Intrigue: 8. It's not quite as high as it was last year, but it's still pretty high. The addition of Lamar Odom adds a new wrinkle here too.
Hilarity scale: +1. Add one point for all of Jamal Crawford's shot attempts. Add one point for Eric Bledsoe's crazy drives. Add one point for every time Jordan attempts a free throw. Subtract two points for all the fights Matt Barnes tries to start.
TOTAL SCORE: 41. They're still interesting but, until they can figure out the way they want to play, they'll be just a cut below the top teams on this list.
4. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Dominance: 8. This was a 10 before the James Harden trade.
Drama: 8. As long as the Thunder still have that crazy crowd behind them, close games will be exciting. The Thunder have a tendency to play down to lesser teams, especially at home, so there will be lots of close games.
Aesthetic Beauty: 6. You know, the Thunder are definitely exciting, but their style of play can still be pretty annoying. There are tons of possessions where their initial play breaks down and they dribble around aimlessly waiting for Durant to get open. There are many others that end with Westbrook or Durant jumping into a defender to draw a silly foul. They have improved in both areas, but those issues still crop up from time to time.
Intrigue: 10. The absence of Harden only adds to this.
Hilarity scale: 0. Cole Aldrich is hilarious, but he
doesn't play much. got traded to the Houston Rockets in the James Harden deal.
TOTAL: 41. Even without Harden, the Thunder will be one of the league's most exciting teams, but having Harden around would have pushed them past the teams higher on this list. It's almost like they settled for being very good for a long time instead of being truly great one year.
3. DENVER NUGGETS
Dominance: 8. The Nuggets should be really good, though talk of them being one of the best teams in the West seems a bit much to me.
WOW factor: 10. One out of every five possessions will end in a highlight. You can take that to the bank.
Drama: 6. The Nuggets should play plenty of close games, but confusion over their crunch-time scorer might make some of these games a bit ugly.
Aesthetic Beauty: 9.5. What I love about the Nuggets: there are no wasted motions. They make quick decisions, don't hold the ball and go right into the teeth of your defense. If you're the kind of person who gets turned off by too many isolations, you're going to love the way the Nuggets play.
Intrigue: 9. This team doesn't really have any stars, but it has a lot of guys that you want to see play because they could wow you with their athleticism. Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Ty Lawson -- these aren't superstars, but they have one distinct quality (speed for Lawson, athleticism for McGee, explosiveness for Faried) that makes you want to see them play.
Hilarity scale: +2. Plus infinity points for McGee and Anthony Randolph. We rounded down infinity to two for the sake of this exercise.
TOTAL SCORE: 44.5. The undisputed League Pass champions. If you have a five-team plan and this isn't one of the teams you selected, you're doing it wrong.
2. MIAMI HEAT
Dominance: 10. They are the obvious favorite to win the title.
Drama: 8. They tend to get everyone's best effort, which puts them in more close games than they should be playing. When that happens, it's fun watching LeBron and Wade go to work.
Aesthetic Beauty: 9. This was much lower during the middle of last season, but it seems like Erik Spoelstra has figured out that he can afford to play small and open the floor for his stars.
Intrigue: 10. They have their title, but they're still the water-cooler lightning rod. If anything, seeing how James defends his first title is just as interesting as seeing him try to win his first.
Hilarity scale: -2 for everything Mike Miller does.
TOTAL SCORE: 45. Still the league's marquee draw, except for the team above them.
1. LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Dominance: 10. They will be a good basketball team this year.
WOW factor: 10. There will be lots of Dwight Howard dunks, and much more.
Drama: 5. They'll probably blow a lot of teams out this year.
Aesthetic Beauty: 10. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in a pick and roll. Pau Gasol in the high post. Kobe Bryant on the weakside. My heart is pounding. Well, at least until Kobe screws it up and goes 1 on 5 again.
Intrigue: 10. This should be higher.
Hilarity scale: +1. Mostly for all of Antawn Jamison's flip shots.
TOTAL SCORE: 46. We're all curious to see how this experiment plays out, so we'll all be watching.