When I was growing up the notion that I could watch every single game of a team in any sport was completely a pipe dream. Being a fan of out of markets teams was a real struggle for me in the late eighties and early nineties. I devoured box scores of my favorite teams every morning in the newspaper – it was the only way I could keep up.
Sports Television packages are the norm now. The popularity of Red Zone and Sunday Ticket have spawned similar outlets for the other major sports. The nightly highlights that the association gives you are awesome – dunks, blocks, crossovers, no look passes and everything else in between are what makes the NBA League Pass a tempting offer at $199. Should you do it though?
Here are a few teams that I feel will not give you buyers remorse this upcoming season.
Sacramento Kings – Rajon Rondo and Willie Cauley-Stein join Boogie Cousins, Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore and Darren Collison to make up a team that should routinely put up 100+ points a night and also lead the league in technicals, tantrums and primal screams after buckets. With George Karl as coach you can expect the Kings to go up and down the floor at a frenetic pace – with fast point guards in Rondo and Collison that should be no problem.
McLemore is a high flyer, Gay still has a some lift yet and likes to put it up with the best of them. With an impressive preseason by first rounder Cauley-Stein, Karl has moved him into the starting lineup. Look for him and Cousins to wreck havoc on the glass and in the high-low post game. Having to deal with west coast time normally would be a deterrent but the Kings will make most nights worthy of staying up.
Miami Heat – D Wade has stated that his team can contend with the Cavs in the Eastern Conference – while I think the Heat have a good chance at a top-4 seed I wouldn’t go much further than that. The real reason to follow the Heat is watching Goran Dragic have nightly chances to throw alleys to free agent forward Gerald Green. The former dunk champ still has crazy hops and now has an improved jumper. Chris Bosh returns and with newcomers Justice Winslow and Amare Stoudamire with him the Heat have one of the more deeper front courts in the entire league.
Hassan Whiteside stepped up in Bosh’s absence last season and gave a glimpse of dominance in the paint. The key though is Dragic, he can push the pace on the break, spread the ball around and find guys in rhythm. Wade showed that when healthy he can still produce at a high level. They will be running a lot in South Beach so look for nightly highlights from Green, Winslow and Whiteside.
Los Angeles Lakers – Watching the Mamba alone might be worthy of the $199 asking price in what may be his last season as a Laker but throw in Swaggy P, Metta World Peace, Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert and you have an orgy of story lines. Hibbert is already out here asking to be called the Black Bogut…and it’s only October!! On the court, the amount of shots taken among this roster should break records.
They put up over seven thousand shots last year (good for ninth most in the league) and that was with Kobe only playing 35 games. The scary thing is that the Lakers might actually be good. Joseph Randle looked good in preseason, Brandon Bass has been the veteran that they expected him to be and top pick D’Angelo Russell is someone who merits attention. The Lakeshow low key could be back.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl Anthony Towns will team up with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Ricky Rubio to form a squad worthy of holding dunk contest exhibitions every night. Towns gets to learn to be the next KG under the real KG while Wiggins should continue his quick ascension to the ranks of upper echelon all-around players.
Muhammad and Levine have showed flashes of their potential wing dominance and now Rubio has no more excuses to not show us the Pete Marovich/Jason Williams like ability we’ve gotten in ebbs and flows. Oh and don’t sleep on big man Nikola Pekovic either – his plodding fundamental low post game plus his stoic ice grill are legendary for memes and vine’s.
Chicago Bulls – Points, points and more points are the emphasis in the Chi now that Thibs is gone. Doug McDermott has gotten more minutes which means more threes being hoisted. All of that is fine with new coach Fred Hoiberg, he wants better spacing and ball movement – having shooters like McDermott, Tony Snell, Aaron Brooks and Nikola Mirotic should ease the transition. Rookie Bobby Portis has shown early signs of being a potential two-way stud if given to the minutes.
The old guard of Noah, Butler, Gibson and Rose are still the foundation of the team but Hoiberg wants to push the rock and spread the floor so minutes for them might diminish to let the baby Bulls get out on the court. With Noah coming off the bench look for Pau Gasol and Mirotic to have an excellent high-low post game as both can feed the other from the top of the key.
Milwaukee Bucks – A foundation that includes the Greek Freak, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and MCW (Michael Carter-Williams) gets stronger with the free agent pick up of big man Greg Monroe. The former Hoya will have the low-post to himself to operate and could even improve on the career high numbers he set last season in Detroit. More and more its being proven that it was an absolute stroke of genius for Jason Kidd to skate on the Brooklyn Nets when he did. He traded an aging, overrated, mismatched roster for a team with athletic wings all over the place. Those wings helped elevate the Bucks to a top defensive team and adding Monroe will only enhance that.
If the powers that be would only leave the the Greek Freak alone and let him be a standout small forward then all would be well. With Parker returning from injury that should settle the Freak to the PF rumors. Getting Parker back also should improve the offensive flow and with the continued maturation of MCW – the Bucks will be putting up major buckets on a nightly basis.