If you missed Part 1 of Bill & Zach’s League Pass Rankings, CLICK HERE.
Here is Part 2.
OKLAHOMA CITY: 71
Bill: This ranking is a tribute/testament/homage to the great Kevin Durant. It’s literally impossible to keep KD off any “Top 12 Favorite League Pass Teams” list even when he’s playing with Serge Ibaka and 10 guys off the street. You know, kind of like next month.
Zach: I had them 19th. They’re only up this high because you are the teacher that gives everyone A’s, and so your inflated scores effectively lifted up a lot of teams. Nice work, Randy Jackson.
Bill: Thanks, dawg.
Zach: In my defense, I gave them a perfect “10” in two categories — playoff relevancy and star power (the Durant factor). Let’s just say they fared poorly in basketball style and League Pass ambience.
Bill: You’re overlooking a variety of juicy League Pass subplots here, including Kendrick Perkins’s quest to finish with a negative PER; Jeremy Lamb’s hilarious attempt to replicate Kevin Martin’s numbers last season (good luck); Steven Adams vindicating his lottery selection by becoming the greatest bench celebrator in recent league history; Serge Ibaka aiming for all red and orange colors in Kirk Goldsberry’s next Serge Ibaka shot chart; Derek Fisher decomposing; an undeniably compelling “Is Westbrook the same post-injury, and if not, does that make Patrick Beverley the Bernard Karmell Pollard of NBA players?” story line; Scottie Brooks’s job security; and, of course, Durant becoming angrier and angrier as the season goes along. Sign me up for all of this. We should have ranked them higher.1
Zach: Lots of subplots that will make for an interesting presence for OKC on the trade market. I expect more from Lamb and Adams than you do, but the bottom line is this: If Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka are healthy and improve incrementally, these guys have a shot to come out of the Western Conference.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: 71
Bill: I will be brief … if the next six months of Wizards League Pass games surpass what happened in March and April of 2013 with Wizards League Pass (and the John Wall era in general), then we botched this ranking.
Zach: See, and I’m worried we’re irrationally exuberant. Wall and Beal are so, so exciting — and they complement each other perfectly. You should be able to carve a league-average small forward out of Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza, even though Ariza will take three shots every game that make you want to flip over to the Tony Allen cam.
Bill: You’re starting to talk me into the Tony Allen cam. Sorry, keep going.
Zach: But beyond that? Okafor is already hurt, Nene is making noise about logging too many minutes, and you might want to avert your eyes if any of the other bigs get extended minutes. Al Harrington might be our salvation. But there’s upside here if things break right. This is a playoff roster when healthy.
Bill: And if Bradley Beal makes anything remotely approaching The Leap (and I think he can), if Otto Porter isn’t a bust (I’m worried), and if they can flip Emeka Okafor’s expiring into one more chess piece, then LOOK THE F— OUT. And we didn’t even mention Jan Vesely trying to finish with more fouls than points again. He almost did it last season, Zach! VIVA CHOCOLATE CITY!!! I’m so happy for Joe House, Gheorghe Muresan and the great philosopher Andrew Sharp.
Zach: They can at least afford to be patient with Porter. The Granger Expiring Contract caveats apply to Okafor here, too. But this should be a fun team … and a potential panic-trade candidate.
Bill: Come on, Zach — when Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld are running your team, you’re ALWAYS a potential panic-trade candidate. (Cut to Mike Miller, Randy Foye and Ricky Rubio all nodding.)
Zach: I remember liking that trade when it happened, or at least not hating it. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and the league has learned a lot about the value of first-round picks.
Bill: I liked it when I thought Rubio and Curry were both going to be gone before the fifth pick. Whoops.
HOUSTON ROCKETS: 74
Zach: Houston at no. 10 seems almost irresponsibly low, since it is one of those rare title contenders with a giant, intriguing question mark: How will the new guy fit? In fairness, you had them at no. 7, and I had them at no. 15, and it’s one of those cases where I sort of miss the forest for the trees.
Bill: Don’t beat yourself up — it’s rarely if ever fun to watch Dwight Howard play basketball, and you’ve always been perturbed by his insatiable quest to be considered a larger-than-life personality. One of my social-media joys in life is when you ridicule Dwight for some inane, trying-to-be-funny moment. It’s hard to bring out the troll in Zach Lowe, but Dwight does it. Thank you, Dwight Howard. Thank you.
Zach: I just can’t help it, and I don’t feel great about it. But, I mean, his ex-teammates happily tell stories about his devastating farts, and he actually praised the Magic for bringing his “favorite candies” to one negotiating session. And I lost it this week when he said he was upset the Magic let Tobias Harris have his old number (12). He actually compared James Harden to Courtney Lee in the same interview. It was really a tour de force in total lack of self-awareness. Wait, what were we talking about?
Bill: For the record, I ranked the Rockets no. 7 because of Harden, Parsons, Dwight in Eff You Mode (hopefully), Linsanity, McHale, DoMo, a beaming Dork Elvis … I mean, you had me at Harden.
Zach: But we can’t forget the stuff around the basketball. Their announcing crew brings a dangerous mix of misinformation and homerism that mars the Houston broadcast, and as good as Harden and Howard are, their games are going to feature endless parades to the foul line. That makes for a boring watch.
Bill: How well will Dwight blend in with the Rockets? How healthy will Dwight look on a scale of one to 10? (Let’s be honest, he was a five last season.) Combine those two questions and that’s the fourth-most riveting subplot of the 2013-14 NBA season behind “Is Derrick Rose 100 percent back?,” “How far will lousy teams go with Riggin’ for Wiggins?” and “When will Durant finally snap over the fact that his cheap-ass franchise traded the NBA’s best 2-guard for two spare bench parts?”
Zach: You just won’t let the Harden trade go, will you?
Bill: The trade that probably swung five or six Finals this decade? That one? No, I can’t.
Zach: Hell, execs around the league haven’t let it go yet, either. It’s still a major talking point in team-building discussions. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how often Houston goes to Dwight in straight post-ups after Daryl Morey basically engineered a team last season that did not even have the post-up option — and had to rely instead on 3s, free throws, and rim attacks, just as the stat geeks prefer. They should be fine overall, and it will be fun watching them sort out the Omer Asik issue — first on the court, then on the trade market.
NEW YORK KNICKS: 74.5
Bill: Ranked this high solely out of respect to MSG, the floor, the uniform, the announcers, your twice-a-season Carmelo three-week hot streak, J.R. Smith doing J.R. Smith things, and the real possibility that this season could be something of a disaster. Anything less than 48 wins is a letdown for Knicks fans, and that’s where I think we’re headed here — they’re soooooooooooooooooo bad on paper defensively, I just don’t see how you can finish more than 10 games over .500 with this roster.
Zach: I’ve written enough about the Knicks in the last week. But in terms of watchability, this is an all-around powerhouse — no. 4 on my list. They’ve got a telegenic scorer, a top-three overall broadcast crew, two of the wackiest dudes in the league (and that doesn’t include Kenyon Martin!), and a 3-point-happy attack. What’s not to like? Have you seen Mike Woodson’s proto-beard this week? Huge upside!
Bill: The potential of an unhappy season scared me off a little. I don’t want my 2013-14 League Pass experience to be unhappy; my Celtics season will be unhappy enough as it is. Like you, I am VERY dubious of this Knicks team. How will their lineups work? How do you ever play Bargnani and Stoudemire at the same time without just creating a layup line for the other team? Shouldn’t we be worried that they lost two of their best 3-point bombers when that was such a big part of last year’s arsenal? What if J.R. Smith looks more like Indiana Series J.R. Smith than Borderline All-Star J.R. Smith? What if Chandler looks like Breaking Down Chandler (like he did last spring)? Will Amar’e play even 50 games? So many red flags here, and we haven’t even mentioned what Frank Vogel did to poor Woodson in Round 2. The good news: We’re only one year away from the words “Amar’e’s Expiring Contract.”
Zach: The default assumption on Amar’e at this point has to be that he doesn’t play at all, or that he plays so little as to not be very relevant. If he’s healthy, he can prop up bench lineups, sans Melo, that would otherwise have very little scoring punch. Anything more than that and you’re inviting an opponent bucket-fest.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: 75
Bill: My God! It’s a League Pass explosion of things I’m interested in! I feel like I’m gonna pass out! The Cavs are living proof that there’s hope even after one of the best 10 players of all time rips your heart out and defecates on it.
Zach: It seems ridiculous to have Cleveland at no. 8, ahead of a few title contenders, but Kyrie Irving + Andrew Bynum’s hair + Anderson Varejao bouncing around + a bevy of trade assets + an impatient owner = potential gold (as long as you hit the mute button on their home broadcasts).
Bill: I want you to rank the following things in order of “Things That Will Fascinate You The Most About The 2013-14 Cavs On League Pass,” and add any additional thoughts in parentheses as you give your answers: Kyrie Irving, Year 3 … Those 20 Games When Varejao Is Healthy Before He Gets Hurt Again … Anything & Everything Andrew Bynum (whether he’s playing or he’s on the bench sporting weird hairdos) … Tristan Thompson’s free throw shooting … Anthony Bennett: Steal or Bust? … Kyrie Irving in Crunch Time … every Dion Waiters Heat Check … Mike Brown’s return to coaching (and Mike Brown’s return to not running an offense) … the Shadow of LeBron … God’s hatred of Cleveland and how this factors into everything.
Zach: (1) Anything Kyrie-related — Year 3 and crunch time. I gave the Cavs a “10” in the “star power” category, because when this guy is on, crossing dudes up and canning 25-footers, there really isn’t anything quite like him in the league. (2) Anthony Bennett. Mike Brown hasn’t exactly said flattering stuff in preseason, and the Cavs gambled a bit with this pick.
Bill: That’s an understated understatement. Let’s decide a date when we’re officially no longer allowed to say the word “Oladipo” to a Cleveland fan. I vote for November 27. Keep going.
Zach: (3) Tristan Thompson’s hand switch. (4) Andrew Bynum’s hair/play/health/suits/etc. It’s old now, but it’s still entertaining. (5) Dion Waiters heat checks. He becomes an interesting trade chip if the Cavs start poorly, panic, and seek veteran help. He’s explosive and long, with a clear skill set, but he also has very shaky judgment.
Bill: Sounds like the perfect match for Sacramento! Sorry, I interrupted you again.
Zach: (6) Mike Brown. He can coach defense! And (7), LeBron and divine hatred. There’s no question the Cavs think they have a shot, and they’re set up so that Plan B — not getting LeBron — isn’t so bad, provided they don’t do anything dumb between now and then, or after striking out on him (if that’s what ends up happening). But I’m just not stoked to live through this again.
Bill: I am utterly and completely amazed by how many people around the league believe that LeBron will be a Cavalier next season. Depends on the 2014 Finals, in my opinion. We’ve never seen the best player on an NBA title team leave that team for another team — it has never happened. By the way, we didn’t play up how captivatingly freaky Bynum’s season-long cameo might end up being for Cleveland, but that’s OK — we’re headed for 25,000 words right now.
MINNESOTA T-WOLVES: 76.5
Zach: A team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 is no. 7 in our combined rankings, and it doesn’t feel weird. Part of this is our longing for unrealized promise. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are super-watchable without each other, but together they have the potential to make magic. They played 28 minutes together last season. Twenty-eight. That’s a basketball tragedy.
Bill: Let’s face it — until the Finals, last season sucked. No Rose. No Harden in OKC. No Bynum. Half a Rondo season and half a Gallinari season. Not nearly enough Anthony Davis and Kyrie. Only 28 minutes for Rubio and Love. No Kobe for the Spurs series. Only two playoff games for Westbrook. A crippled David Lee for two rounds. And so on and so on. I blame the league’s big crackdown on PED use — if the league looked the other way with PED testing, these guys wouldn’t get injured so much. Come on, NBA! Your rigorous testing of four whole times during the season, nothing during the playoffs and two plenty-of-heads-up summer tests needs to calm down already.
Zach: I’m going to, umm, pivot and say I hope the incoming commish holds some serious dialogue about reducing the number of games or game length. Also, why are there so many freaking preseason games? Who would pay money to attend them? Anyway, things to like about Minnesota other than Rubio and Love being healthy: The Wolves have some shooting now, Nikola Pekovic is back to being a scary guy, and Rick Adelman’s teams always play some stylish hoops. This should be fun, right?
Bill: They can’t win a title, but they’re going to win our League Pass hearts.
Zach: No knuckle push-ups, please.
DETROIT PISTONS: 79
Bill: Let’s face it — the Pistons already won this season. Look at this ranking, Zach! Look at it! Get up! (Everybody’s gonna move their feet.) Get down! (Everybody’s gonna leave their seat.) You gotta lose your mind in Dee-troit Rock City!!!
Zach: It’s going to be fun watching Mo Cheeks work out the Brandon Jennings–Josh Smith–Greg Monroe–Andre Drummond core four. Is Joe Dumars right that talent, and passing talent in particular, overcomes spacing issues and positional overlap? I’m optimistic, but part of that optimism is based on Detroit getting quality outside shooting from at least three of the following four guys on the wing: Chauncey Billups, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Singler, and Luigi Datome. This could work, and Drummond alone is worth a lot of League Pass Watchability points.
Bill: However it goes for Detroit, it’s going to be fantastic for League Pass purposes. I personally think they’re a no. 6 seed in the East, maybe even a no. 5 seed if the Knicks regress … but I wouldn’t be shocked if Drummond’s back issues flare up again, Jennings and Josh become embroiled in a Bad Body Language contest, their bench guys don’t come through and everything goes south. Can you think of two players who needed new fans more than Jennings and Josh? I’m not even talking about a change of scenery — I’m just talking about new fans. They burned out the old ones. This can work with them. Or maybe I just have a soft spot for a team that’s 60 percent left-handed … we’re only two more lefties away from my dream of an all-lefty starting five, Zach!
Zach: Wait, did Marc Stein hijack this thread? Are we going to start dropping Man City references here?
Bill: I hate that Marc Stein hoards the lefty-loving corner from everyone else.
Zach: It’s always nice when a team with a good League Pass product gets good League Pass players. Detroit has all the essentials — very good announcing crew, nice court, nice jerseys, great team name. Let the midrange bricks fly!
BROOKLYN NETS: 80
Zach: I’m honestly surprised they came in this high.
Bill: It’s a tribute from two hoop junkies who spent way too much time watching/appreciating/respecting no. 34 and no. 5 over these last few years. I’m riding with KG and Pierce for life. Even when they’re playing with Deron Williams.
Zach: I learned more about team defense from watching KG than from any other player, and it’s not close. And I like watching D-Will, too! Jason Kidd is talking about pace and unselfishness, and he’ll instill some of that into this team. The bench is fun; Shaun Livingston looks fantastic, and Andrei Kirilenko will annoy the other 29 teams. But the core is mostly set up to be a plodding bunch without an explosive, can’t-change-the-channel scorer, right?
Bill: On paper, you’re right. But people are sleeping on the impact of limited minutes for Pierce and Garnett. They’re shifting to the Duncan schedule now — 24 to 28 minutes a night, the occasional “fourth game in five nights” off, maybe even a week off in February or March to rest whatever nagging injuries pop up. So when they do play, you’re getting the very best of them; that makes up for the lack of a can’t-change-the-channel guy. (At least for me.) Also, if they can’t bring out the very best from Deron Williams, then that dude is hopeless. I like Brooklyn’s team more than most. My biggest question mark is Kidd, and leadership issues in general — Pierce and Garnett (along with Doc Rivers) owned that Boston locker room, and Rondo had a difficult time dealing with that. How will the notoriously moody Williams handle it? Will Kidd be able to exert authority while also deferring to the Boston guys? And will Williams crack the first time KG makes fun of his spray-painted hair? Fascinating all the way around.
Zach: The mixture of KG and Brook Lopez will be interesting in that sense, too. But again: The talent is there, and it will be fun to watch how the parts mesh — especially Pierce and Joe Johnson on the wing. The Barclays Center looks great, in person and on TV, and the Nets have the single best broadcast crew, top to bottom, in the entire league. Now, if we could just find a way for the Brooklyn Knight to disappear …
MIAMI HEAT: 81
Bill: It’s going to be a sad day when LeBron falls from the top five in the League Pass rankings. And lemme tell you something … that day ain’t coming anytime soon.
Zach: And what’s not to like about the basketball product? We’ve got the world’s best player, adding new stuff every year, executing a scheme that emphasizes misdirection, a ton of 3s, and impeccable spacing. They play a helter-skelter style of defense that is going out of vogue across the rest of the league.
Bill: My only fear: They never added that one hungry-for-a-title veteran who might keep them focused during the dog days this season. (Sorry, Michael Beasley, you don’t qualify.) It’s tough to stay motivated/healthy/happy after playing 310 games over 32 months, which is really what we’re asking from the Heat here. Our recent three-peat history in the regular season isn’t great: The ’02 Lakers underachieved, and MJ single-handedly prevented the ’98 Bulls from becoming a mess. Maybe LeBron can do that for this Heat team, but I worry about their day-to-day intensity. You’re not capturing my attention on League Pass by going through the motions. Then again, LeBron is kind of incapable of going through the motions. (Thinking.) I just talked myself out of this. Forget I said anything. Nothing to see here. What else do you like about Miami other than the faint possibility of a D-Wade laying-the-smack-down season?
Zach: Their crowds have always offered comedy potential — white T-shirts masquerading as fans until there are four minutes left in the first quarter, overtanned people of both sexes making lewd gestures at players, people leaving a Finals game early. It’s all pretty hilarious, just as long as you turn the volume down on your League Pass broadcast.
Bill: Miami’s announcer couldn’t be a nicer guy. I’m a little worn out on his style, though. I might break up with him this year. It’s not him, it’s me. We forgot to mention that Miami plays three random games a year against shitty teams who treat them like playoff games and throw the kitchen sink at them, then LeBron gets pissed off and goes into MJ mode and it’s all kinds of awesome. Only four texts can get me to drop everything: “(Fill in the player) is going for 50,” “Steph Curry heat check,” “Turn on Durant” and “Turn on LeBron.”
Zach: That’s the essence of the “star power” category: Does this team have a player who can regularly command the attention of the entire League Pass/Twitter crowd on a moment’s notice? As for their hunger, I asked Erik Spoelstra, Chris Bosh, and a couple of other guys at Heat practice the other day if they’d dial it back at all this season after gunning for the winning streak last season. They unanimously said they wouldn’t. It’s just not how they operate. But I sort of don’t believe them, at least in terms of minutes, practice, rest, etc. But let’s wait and see.
Bill: Not including the preseason, they’ve played 313 games together in the past three seasons — 246 regular-season games, 49 playoff games and 18 Finals games. That’s basically four seasons in three. If they rip off another 27-game win streak, I’m going to need to see this entire team pee in the same cup.
Zach: We forgot to mention — Greg Oden! (Fingers crossed.)
Bill: (Fingers crossed.)
L.A. CLIPPERS: 83
Zach: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are going to be devastating with so much quality shooting around them. It’s almost unfair. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have their flaws as players (though Griffin’s flaws are wildly overstated by critics who just don’t like him for some reason), but when you watch the Clips, you are constantly on edge, waiting for their next bit of destruction from above.
Bill: Blake has officially become underrated. Everyone picks him apart. He’s still exciting as hell and plays as fearlessly as ever. Doc Rivers will help build him up mentally — all the shit Z-Bo pulled with Blake never would have happened on Doc’s watch. Doc will be good for Blake. And DeAndre, too. What else do you love about the Clips? I can’t think rationally about them because I’m so perpetually happy that I stuck with my Clips season tickets …
Zach: I love the Jared Dudley dunk watch. Matt Barnes is just the right kind of crazy. And the Chris Paul–Byron Mullens combo has been completely overlooked in the “teammate most likely to murder another teammate on the court during a game” rankings. Kobe Bryant and Nick Young are getting all the attention, but Byron Mullens better dial back the 3-pointers. He shoots them like he’s playing Pop-A-Shot. He never takes his eyes off the rim and starts his shooting motion before he even has the ball.
Bill: I’m excited to yell “Take Mullens out!” at Doc — I’ve been practicing all summer. It will be disorienting to watch a Clippers coach command respect from NBA officials and his own players, I can tell you that much. But the Clippers can’t win the title with this current roster — they need to flip Jamal Crawford and/or DeAndre Jordan into a more reliable rim protector/rebounder who can play crunch time.
Zach: Trading DeAndre would be a big, big thing. You better get that one right. Are you overpraising Doc to try to smooth things over after the little TV spat?
Bill: What spat? He’s openly admitting that he didn’t want to rebuild in Boston now. I won the spat. Simmons 1, Rivers 0. But seriously, Doc …
Zach: In all seriousness, there’s a large undercurrent of “Doc’s a little overrated, and the Clippers are overestimating the impact of a coaching change on their title chances.” It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Bill: Yeah, this isn’t the Chiefs dumping Romeo Crennel for Andy Reid — the Clippers won 56 games last season. Then again, I watched Vinny Del Negro watch dozens of games in person, and lemme tell you something … you never left a Vinny game feeling like you just watched a chess match. Doc will help.
Zach: I’ll miss Vinny, his hair, and his comically immature tendency to scream and stamp his feet near opposing shooters. But there’s still a ton to like here. Oh me, oh my!
Bill: Right now, they can outscore just about anyone, they can shoot the lights out, they can light up YouTube, and they’re insanely fun to watch. I wouldn’t call them legitimately dangerous. Just dangerous. But for League Pass purposes? They’re legitimately dangerous. Like, to my marriage.
CHICAGO BULLS: 83.5
Zach: Derrick Rose is back.
Bill: WOO-HOO! Derrick Rose is back!!!!
Zach: Yup, Derrick Rose is back. And he’s one of just a few players — maybe a half-dozen — who earn their teams an easy “10” in the “star power/can’t change the channel” category. And he was gone all last season, so we’ve missed him. I mean, how much more do I really need to say?
Bill: You could say this:
Zach: What the heck is going on in that clip? And have female fans at Eminem concerts always acted like Beatles fans from 1964? I am so clueless. Back to the watchability of the Bulls: They’re contenders, they’re nasty, Carlos Boozer is yelling all the time, Joakim Noah is a lock to piss off at least one opposing player every night, and Tom Thibodeau sounds like a baritone musical instrument emitting various noises along the sidelines. They don’t run the sexiest offense, but their defense is super-sexy (if you’re into that kind of thing). And Rose’s presence changes everything.
Bill: And you forgot Jimmy Butler’s “breakout star” potential — if there were a basketball blogger summit and someone took a shot at either Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard, the other bloggers would jump him and beat him to death.
Zach: Some of them/us would be off to the side arguing about Jeff Green, and the Utah guys would just be screaming about how Gordon Hayward is secretly as good as Paul George — only no one realizes, because NO ONE CARES ABOUT UTAH. Sorry. Go on.
Bill: I ranked the Bulls this high for two reasons: because of Rose, and because they’re going to be a borderline great regular-season team. Just a must-watch army of possessed ass-kickers laying the smack down night after night after night. People are gonna hate playing the Bulls this year.
Zach: Just be careful with the minutes, Coach Thibs. Please. Please?
Bill: For the next six months, this is our best professional basketball team. We’ll see about May and June.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: 89
Zach: Holy crap. This was a blowout. I did a double-take when Golden State ended up atop my rankings, but you had them in the same spot, and they finished a whopping 5.5 points ahead of the no. 2 team. Wow.
Bill: I think it was either Emily Dickinson or Andrew Sharp who said it best: The heart wants what it wants. And our League Pass hearts want the Warriors.
Zach: I mean, Golden State is good and all, and their playoff run was super-fun. But how did this happen? How did Golden State become the most watchable team in the NBA?
Bill: Best home crowd in the league. Top-three uniforms, top-three colors, really nice floor.
Zach: Agreed on the uniforms and team color scheme. I’d have to think about the floors, but Golden State is a very aesthetically pleasing team overall.
Bill: Why do I feel a “Top 30 Floors” column coming from you this season? Here’s what else the Dubs bring to the table: very good announcers. Great team chemistry. Likable players. West Coast start times.
Zach: Boo to Pacific Time. They are a morning coffee/DVR team for me.
Bill: It’s not my fault you live on the wrong coast. The Warriors also have lineup flexibility — they can go big or small. Plus, they mixed it up from last season by adding Iggy, which gives them a different feel from last year and opens up engaging questions like “What’s their best lineup?” and “Is this setting Harrison Barnes back?” I think they’re a top-10 team and a fringe contender, but they aren’t good enough to win at home by going on cruise control — that means we’re getting their best every night. And best of all, they have one of the league’s best “TURN THIS GAME ON RIGHT F—ING NOW!” guys. What am I missing? Don’t be ashamed, Zach Lowe. Follow your heart.
Zach: Curry was the guy who really swung this. I’m not sure exactly when it started — maybe the 54-point game at MSG, maybe earlier — but he is crashing the top of the “change the channel, this guy is going crazy” rankings. I mean, who else is up there? LeBron, Rose, Kyrie, Durant, Curry … is that it? Maybe a rejuvenated Dirk? Other guys can take over games, but they either need someone to pass them the ball (Griffin), or they are more clinical than stylish/explosive/insane (Chris Paul, James Harden).
Bill: It’s LeBron, Curry and Durant … then it drops off to the next tier. Unless you want to count Byron Mullens going for an 0-for-20.
Zach: Anyway, Curry is up there, and you’re right on about the lineup flexibility. Iggy is going to be so great here, filling all the little gaps — guarding the best perimeter player, making the right passes on offense, passing and cutting so that the system keeps moving. I love that guy. But, no. 1? By a landslide? Are we going to regret this in three months?
Bill: You’ll have to ask Steph Curry’s ankles.