It’s a new season of NBA basketball and the Portland Trail Blazers are back! It’s been a little bit confusing for in-market viewers making the switch from NBCSports Northwest to Root Sports, but for those of us outside the market, or anyone who wants to watch any of the other 29 NBA teams, there’s always NBA League Pass.
If you’re unfamiliar with League Pass, it’s a subscription service that allows access to all 30 teams (with games are often blacked out within a team’s home market). Each year, Zach Lowe of ESPN breaks down the best and worst teams to watch on League Pass, considering things like style, star potential, and even unintentional comedy.
Coming in at the bottom of the list in 2021-22, sitting at number 30, are the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This an uphill battle for deep rebuilds. The Thunder bring up the rear again, despite the presence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — who appears to move in cinematic jump cuts, as if he is constantly buffering — and one of the league’s most unusual players in terms of skill set in Aleksej Pokusevski.
Lowe ranks the Trail Blazers right in the middle of the pack at number 18.
It will be fascinating to see what Chauncey Billups changes. Maybe the right answer is “not much.” Lillard and CJ McCollum should jack jumpers; McCollum shifted more of his beyond the arc last season, and was laying waste to the league before a foot injury. He is the Dean Malenko of the midrange — the man of 1,000 moves, with balletic combinations of footwork that build toward step-back jumpers, sidesteps, and floaters with either hand.
While they may not be ranked in the top 10, Lowe still had some good things to say about the Blazers.
Portland might have the league’s snazziest art, starting with its untouchable pinwheel logo — one of the only wordless and purely abstract logos in sports that still manages to invoke the specific flowing speed of basketball. The court — half-red, half-black — is a masterpiece.
The number one spot (unsurprisingly) goes to a team that has been the source of a lot of conversations going into the season: the Brooklyn Nets. They carry a star-studded roster, have a clear chance at the championship, and boast a “supporting cast loaded with characters”. Lowe says this about the team:
Kyrie Irving broke the algorithm. The supercomputer housed in my garage to compile these rankings exploded the moment on Tuesday when the Nets announced they were banishing Irving until he gets vaccinated.
The algorithm is divided. Does it punish the Nets for this fiasco, and deduct entertainment points for the absence of one of the NBA’s great showmen — coming off a 50/40/90 scorcher that was probably the best season of his career?
Should the Blazers be ranked higher than 18, considering they still have one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league with at least four strong players around them? Weigh in below.