NBA: Who is Worth Watching in 2016-2017?


John Keen

The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA title in team history after coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors — Sunday, June 19, 2016 (CNN)

NBA League Pass is a service provided by or a local cable provider that allows fans to watch any out-of-market or non-nationally televised NBA game. Deciding which team to watch can be a difficult task. However, there are a number of teams that might be just worth shelling out the big bucks this NBA season.

Led by two-time MVP Stephen Curry and All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors were a must-watch team last season after winning 73 games in the regular season, breaking the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ 20 year old record.

The two-time defending Western Conference Champions may be just as good this year with the addition of Kevin Durant, 2014 MVP and seven-time All-Star, who joined the team in free agency after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Golden State’s only League Pass downside will be the amount of unavailable games due to games being broadcasted on ESPN and TNT. However, there is another team that, though they have not been as dangerous in recent years, will be worth tuning in to this year.

The Minnesota Timberwolves’s 29-win campaign last season does not tell the team’s full story: They are fun to watch. With 2015 Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony-Towns, high flyer Zack LaVine, former top overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and 2016 lottery pick Kris Dunn, Minnesota’s roster is young and talented.

Whether it is the precision passing of Ricky Rubio, LaVine and Wiggins highflying abilities or Towns’s all-around game, Minnesota offers something for every NBA fan. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s bench leaves a lot to be desired, featuring career journeymen and young, unproven talent.

Another team that has not seen success recently but appear to be nearing a breakthrough is the Utah Jazz. If Minnesota’s lackluster bench or Golden State’s porous defense does not hold one’s interest, then Utah is the perfect counter.

Perhaps no team in the NBA is deeper than Utah. Their depth allows them to deploy many defensive looks at their opponents while maintaining offensive versatility. Defensive ability, offensive versatility and depth make Utah an enjoyable watch. However, injuries to Star player Gordon Hayward and role player Alec Burks will limit Utah’s scoring punch early in the season.

LeBron James, three-time champion and four-time MVP, leads the Cleveland Cavaliers into the 2016 season looking to repeat as NBA champions after they ended the city’s 60-plus year championship drought over the summer.

With All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love backing James, the Cavaliers should be the overwhelming favorite in the Eastern Conference once again. However, Cleveland may not be as exciting a League Pass team as they would appear on the surface.

With a weak Eastern Conference, blackout for nationally televised games and James’s history of taking time off during the regular season play, Cleveland may not reach their full potential until postseason play.

If there is one team that can give the Cavaliers a run for their money this year, it is a team that knows all about winning championships. The Boston Celtics are full of young and talented players and they should be exciting to watch this year. Usually, grit and grind teams are not enjoyable to watch. Boston is the exception to this rule.

With offseason additions of super talented big man Al Horford and first-round draft pick Jaylon Brown, expect Boston’s style of play to be much more pleasing than year’s past. Add in the brilliant coaching of the young and exciting Brad Stevens and Boston’s offense should hum all season long.

While many other teams deserve consideration for this honor of best League Pass teams in each conference, these six teams offer enough diversity to satisfy any NBA fan.