SportsPulse: Jeff Zillgitt and Trysta Krick put their prediction hats on for some bold takes as the NBA season gets set to begin.
Our preseason power rankings, which you can find here, rank each NBA team based on how good they are or how good we think they can be.
These aren’t those rankings.
Instead, we’re ranking each team based on how fun they’ll be to watch. While talent certainly plays a role in terms of watchability (like with Golden State), there are other cases (like with San Antonio) that it doesn’t.
10. Indiana Pacers — The Pacers were the NBA’s most surprising team last season, taking LeBron James and Cleveland to seven games in the first round of the playoffs despite being labeled as lottery-bound by most people (including us) before the start of the season. In the process, they became one of the most entertaining teams in the league, a Cinderella story of sorts, with Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo leading the way.
9. Philadelphia 76ers — The Sixers went from an unwatchable disaster to a must-see powerhouse in one year, and the league is better for it. Sure, it took a 75-253 record over a four-year stretch to get here, but it paid dividends, as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons might be the best — and the most entertaining — young duo in basketball.
8. New Orleans Pelicans — Anthony Davis always has been a human highlight reel, but now he’s a perennial MVP candidate. Then there’s Julius Randle, who played the best basketball of his career after the All-Star break last season and Jrue Holiday, who remains one of the league’s most underrated players. Plus, the Pelicans led the NBA in pace last season, and coach Alvin Gentry says he wants his guys to play even faster this time around.
7. Utah Jazz — The boring days of Jazz basketball are long gone, and Utah has Donovan Mitchell to thank. The Rookie of the Year runner-up exceeded all expectations during his inaugural campaign and captured the attention — and the hearts — of the NBA world in the process. He’s as electrifying as they come and, when he’s paired with Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and trash-talking extraordinaire Joe Ingles, the Jazz become one of the league’s most captivating groups.
6. Denver Nuggets — The Nuggets’ high-powered offense is ready for revenge after missing out on the playoffs on the final night of the 2017-18 season. Nikola Jokic’s skill-set makes him one of the most fascinating big men in the league while Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton deserve much more national attention than they get. With only 18 nationally televised games this season, the Nuggets are worth the price of League Pass.
5. Milwaukee Bucks — Giannis Antetokounmpo, by himself, makes the Bucks a must-see team. But this isn’t the same squad from the past few seasons. With former Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer on the sidelines, the Bucks are going to let the three-ball fly — something they didn’t do during Jason Kidd’s tenure as coach.
4. Houston Rockets — Speaking of three-pointers, no team in league history put up as many as the Rockets did last season (they scored 40.9 percent of their points from beyond the arc and attempted 42.3 per game). With a star-studded duo of James Harden and Chris Paul running the offense and a budding star in Clint Capela manning the paint, it’s no wonder the Rockets have 39 nationally televised games this season.
3. Boston Celtics — It’s all finally coming together for the Celtics, who managed to win 55 games last season despite losing Gordon Hayward on opening night and being without Kyrie Irving for 1/4 of the regular season and their miraculous postseason run. Not only are the Celtics’ two best players back and healthy, but their up-and-coming stars — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier — have a season of invaluable experience under their belts.
2. Golden State Warriors — You may be tired of their dominance. You may be tired of Kevin Durant’s complaining to officials, Draymond Green’s trash talking, Steph Curry’s shimmying. But you’re still going to tune in. This team is historically good, and to call their brand of basketball beautiful would be an understatement.
1. Los Angeles Lakers — With LeBron James taking the lead and Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma cast as understudies, L.A. is home to what’s sure to be one of the greatest shows in sports. While we can’t guarantee it’ll be pretty, we can promise it’ll be fun.
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