5 Entertaining Teams to Watch in the Upcoming NBA Season
This time every year, just about every sports website or blog releases their “League Pass Guide,” which more-or-less details the teams that specific author opines will be the most fun teams of the year.
Since this is an analytics website, why don’t we look at this upcoming season by stats? Instead of “Anthony Davis is fun” (although very true), why not, “If you like lots of three-pointers, watch this team!”
Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to do.
I have several categories, and you can personally decide how important they are to you, and then figure out which teams you would like to tune into the most this season. Let’s do it.
The Bombers: Knicks and Rockets
In the top-10 games of three-point attempts by a team last year – a team had to jack up about 40 or more in a single contest to make it – the Knicks and Rockets had four in the top nine, including the top three.
The Knicks had separate games of 41 and a league-high 42 three-point attempts last season, and should be at the top of this list again. Jose Calderon is the new point guard in NYC, and is a historically great three-point shooter. Add in Carmelo Anthony's hunger after relinquishing the scoring title last year, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. in a constant state of heat check, and Andrea Bargnani doing this again, and we should always be ready to flip over to the Knicks game.
(Speaking of J.R. Smith, out of the top-five games in terms of three-point attempts by an individual, Smith had three of them last year, including 22 attempts (!!) last April against the Heat.)
The Rockets are generally more efficient than the Knicks, but are still fun to watch when they heat up. They lost Chandler Parsons to the Mavericks, who had a league-high 10 three-pointers in a game last year, but replaced him with Trevor Ariza, who had a 10 three-pointer game of his own for the Wizards.
It would be wrong to not include #StephCurryLeaguePassAlert in here as well.
The Block Party: Pelicans
Of the top-10 performances in terms of blocks by a team last season, the Pelicans owned 5. Now here's where we can cue our “Anthony Davis is fun” talks. The most blocks in a game last year? Anthony Davis tied with DeAndre Jordan for nine. Davis also had two games with eight. Add in rim protector Omer Asik, and we might set some records.
The Milwaukee Bucks had the most shots blocked in a single game last year, getting 11 swatted away by the Pistons back in December. How convenient, as the Pelicans play the Bucks twice the year – first on March 9th, then a week later at home on March 17th. Those are must-sees.
The Ironmen: Bulls
Last season we had three separate three-overtime games – the Bulls versus the Pelicans in December, the Bulls at the Magic in January, and the Raptors versus the Wizards in February. The Bulls get into these tight contests all the time and their top players log a huge number of minutes.
In that Magic game in January, Jimmy Butler played a ridiculous 60 minutes. Before Luol Deng was traded, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau played him 56 minutes in that three-overtime game against the Pellies. Jimmy Butler played a league-high four different games with 48 minutes or more. In case you need help with math, that’s the entire game (or more)!
The Bulls do have increased depth this season, and having Derrick Rose back should help the perimeter rotation. Even still, if you want to see incredible feats of endurance, Chicago is your team.
The Hackers: Raptors
Out of the top-10 games in terms of team fouls, the Raptors held five of them from last year, including a league-high 38 team fouls against the Rockets last November. The top-five individual foulers in the NBA last year included Amir Johnson with 271 and Kyle Lowry with 267. Jonas Valanciunas made it three Raps in the top 10 with 249 fouls on the year.
The Raptors don’t play at the slowest pace – that distinction went to the Memphis Grizzlies – but you should expect to see a lot of down time when watching Toronto. The Raps also ranked fifth in opponent player fouls, which further shows how stop, start, stop, start their games have been. If you like doing work during games or playing on your iPad, this might be a positive.
The Second Chance Kings: Nuggets and Pistons
The Nuggets and Pistons were two of the top teams in terms of offensive rebounds last year. They had a couple games where they really cleaned up the glass – back in February the Nuggets grabbed 27 offensive boards against the Blazers, and the Pistons collected 25 of them against the Sixers in January.
There were 17 different instances of a player grabbing double-digit offensive boards in a single game, and Pistons center Andre Drummond had six (35%) of them. The best offensive rebounding game last season went to Nuggets big man J.J. Hickson, who dominated the Blazers for 15 offensive boards. Greg Monroe was also up there with a 10-rebound game, so if you like second-chance opportunities, the big man combo of Drummond and Monroe is as good as it gets.
Enjoy the season!