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A Basketball Hipster’s Guide to League Pass

Nathan Bush, Columnist

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Earlier this month, the NBA made League Pass available for all of the world. For $200, you can watch all 30 teams, no matter where you are. As a functioning NBA hipster, I feel I’m uniquely qualified to recommend teams to watch. It’s always  fun to determine what teams are going to be worth your money and which teams you can tune out. Teams like Golden State and Cleveland are obvious choices, but due to the sheer amount of nationally-televised games, it’s a waste of time to recommend them. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you don’t need to waste your time watching sleepy teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, so boring teams are obviously exempt from this list. When looking for these “diamond in the rough” teams, there are several qualifications that create the ultimate League Pass darlings.

Note: I’m in love with a good offense, so please, don’t be outraged when squads like the Spurs and Jazz don’t make this list. They’re great teams, but their offensive woes lull me to sleep.

Honorable Mention – Boston Celtics

This is definitely going to be the team I watch the most this year. However, I know it’s because of the gross, green-team bias I have for my beloved Boston Celtics. That being said, Danny Ainge made a treasure chest of moves this offseason, drafting Jason Tatum, signing Gordon Hayward and trading for the crown jewel, Kyrie Irving. This team is by far the most talented team Brad Stevens has ever had, so I’m excited to see what all he does with them. The offensive scheme is going to be beautiful with floor spacing in almost every possible lineup. My greatest concern is the team not having much cohesion because of the amount of new players entering the season, which is why I have them at this spot.

#5 – Los Angeles Clippers

I feel awkward recommending Clipper games, but Jerry West has constructed a niche team for lovers of the modern offense. This team has sweet new jerseys, an eccentric owner in Steve Balmer, an unknown commodity in Miloš Teodosić (he’s been compared to “White Chocolate” Jason Williams, so it’s safe to say I’m really excited), not to mention a great NBA character at head coach, Doc Rivers. I went through all of those reasons without mentioning Blake Griffin and his counterpart DeAndre Jordan. This team is full of pass-first guys, bucket-getters, and highlight makers. I have two concerns: Doc Rivers is a headstrong ogre and won’t let his team play a European style of basketball, and/or the injury bug ravishes this team and they limp their way to the lottery.

#4 – Los Angeles Lakers

Lonzo Ball is electric, and I’m more than excited to witness his greatness. He makes everyone better around him, and with a Laker team oozing with upside, I feel Lonzo will create stars out of players like Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. With head coach Luke Walton at the helm, it’s practically a guarantee that he will give Lonzo the keys to the offense and enable him to push the floor almost every possession. Bottom line, Ball made Kyle Kuzma look like a lottery pick in Vegas this summer, and I can’t wait to see what he does with his teammates this season.

#3 – Oklahoma City Thunder

One downside to  NBA League Pass is the blackouts. If you live too close to an NBA team, they blackout your game on the NBA League Pass channel and force you to watch it locally on cable TV. For a lot of cord-cutting families like mine, this makes it practically impossible to watch certain teams. In central Arkansas, for example, you can watch every team except the Thunder. The only way to bypass this is signing up for a VPN (virtual private network) service. I wasn’t going to pay the extra cash for this service until the Thunder traded for Carmelo Anthony. This team is a must-watch. They enter the season with three of the top-ten best isolation scorers, great versatility, and last year’s MVP, Russell Westbrook. They are going to be a phenomenal team to watch compete on a nightly basis.

#2 – Denver Nuggets

Oh boy, I love offense. You know who else loves offense? Every single player on the Denver Nuggets. This team is electric. They have bucket-getters at every position and a center in Nikola Jokic who runs the floor like a gazelle on PEDs. I don’t think I can quantify just how fun this team should be. When Jokic and Gary Harris aren’t running the break, you have straight-up 90s-style isolation scorers in Jamal Murray and Wilson Chandler. If you don’t like that style, think of all the flexible lineups Denver can throw at their opponents. Every game will produce a different vibe based on how Mike Malone designs the rotation that night. This team is deep, and I can’t wait to watch them take the league by storm. Also, they signed this guy named Paul Millsap this summer… it’s kind of a big deal.

#1 – Houston Rockets

This Rockets team has two paths, and both are fun scenarios.

Path One: Chris Paul and James Harden transform an already deadly Rockets team into an even more lethal weapon. I’m talking record-setting numbers. Two of the best playmakers in the entire league are playing alongside a stable of talented three-point marksmen. Not to mention, their head coach is the offensive guru of the century, Mike D’Antoni. It’s not totally out of the question.

Path Two: CP3 and Harden hate one another due to their conflicting personalities and we get one of the best beef stories of this NBA season. Who doesn’t love watching on-court drama? I can already imagine Chris Paul yelling random obscenities at Harden as he shrugs them off, instantly becoming an overused NBA Twitter meme. Can’t you?

All jokes aside, I can’t help but be excited for what this team could become.

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