By: Greg Gottfried
Hello there. How are you? Nice of you to drop by. I would like to welcome you to the NBAYY, the one-stop shop for basketball news, recaps and puns on WIUX.
With training camp just two weeks away, we are closing in on what will be a superb NBA season. Following a tumultuous year, which included injuries to some of the best players in Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, that whole Donald Sterling fiasco and the demise of LeBron’s hairline, it’s nice to have a chance to start anew. In fact… can’t you just smell that new car smell?
Since there has not yet been a ball bounced or Jimmy Butler jump shot bricked, it’s too early for power rankings. However, it’s never too soon for Entertainment Rankings, otherwise known as League Pass rankings. What follows is my list of the top five entertaining teams this upcoming season. Of course, this list is the definitive rankings so don’t bother disagreeing.
THE TORONTO RAPTORS? Yes, the Toronto Raptors. Take a sip of that drink and calm down. In case you forgot, the Raptors were the three seed last season and were one of the most exhilarating teams in the league. Their fans are FAN-tastic, especially against good teams, so look for Toronto to thrive off of the crowd’s energy. The reason I’m giving them a top five spot is the talent of their two best players: Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. Both were All-Star caliber players and should follow up last year’s coming-out party with another fantastic season. Lowry in particular is a fantastic watch. He has Allen Iverson grit and attacks the rim viciously. Even with the East’s improvements, the Raptors will still be one of the top squads and a tremendous team to watch.
4. Phoenix Suns
On the way to becoming a legitimate threat in the West last season, the Phoenix Suns also became one of the more entertaining teams in the league. Of course, this distinction derived from Goran Dragic becoming one of the best point guards in the league. Although he was snubbed from the All Star Game last year, this season will be different. The Suns breakneck speed will allow Dragic to rack up assists and even if Bledsoe ends up on another squad, the addition of Isiaiah Thomas more than makes up for the loss. Everyone on this team can shoot, from Phoenix’s guards to its towering Morris brothers, which allows the offense to remain in perpetual motion. The absence of a true center also gives the Suns a more athletic and versatile lineup.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Well, this was a given. Any team with LeBron James is a must-watch and it will be interesting to see how he fits with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. One of the hidden gems of Love’s game is his ability to throw the long outlet pass. This season, I’m sure, there will be many a time where Love catches a board and hits Irving or James in stride for a jam. There is no lack of ball-handlers and scorers, which will make the Cavs one of the must-watch teams of the year.
2. Golden State Warriors
Although they have had Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and a plethora of exciting talent the past few seasons, Mark Jackson seemed to hold them back offensively. There were too many possessions where their offense would turn into a standstill and revolve around David Lee post-ups. As solid a player as Lee is, the offense should be faster-paced and center around the shooting that the Splash Brothers provide. Another key to the Warriors success will be their defense. When Bogut wasn’t injured, this team could play more aggressive defense, as they knew they had a shot-blocking big behind them. His presence could lead to more fast breaks and Steph Curry pull-up three pointers, which may be the most impressive move in the NBA.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Honestly, this isn’t even close. The Clippers are going to be exhilarating this year. With a full season under Doc Rivers’ belt, he will be better acquainted with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and friends and I don’t see this team holding back any punches. Also, losing Donald Sterling only helped the team’s chemistry and took away many bad vibes throughout the organization. A ham sandwich would be a better owner than Donald Sterling, and with billionaire Steve Ballmer taking the reins, watch for Los Angeles to make some big moves come trade deadline. Furthermore, I sense a MVP-caliber season for Blake Griffin. When Chris Paul took some time off last year, the Clippers didn’t miss a beat. I believe that Griffin’s newfound confidence is the final piece for him in putting everything together. Finally, this team is still Lob City. They play at such a frenetic and exciting place that every game, even against the NBA lowlifes (I’m looking at you Milwaukee), will be fun.
Follow Greg on Twitter @gott31 and listen to him on “The Roundtable” Thursdays from 6-7pm