The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Kunal breaks down the most fun NBA teams to watch

I have to admit, I was not that disheartened when I heard that the NBA would be locked out to begin the 2011-2012 season. I wrote a column back in November urging all of you Grinnell basketball fans to watch the NHL during the lockout and appreciate the beauty of that sport played at that level. I was pretty psyched that the NHL, a league that has fallen out of public consciousness since the 2004-2005 lockout, was going to get its moment in the spotlight after football season ended. If football and basketball are clearly the two most popular sports in America, this was definitely hockey’s chance to gain a little ground on baseball. That’s what I thought, or what I thought I thought … until winter break. Grinnellians, I watched a lot of NBA games over break, and I loved what I saw. No, not my Wizards, they are horrible; but most of the teams are genuinely fun to watch. The Clippers? Fantastic. The Heat? Unbelievable. Thunder? Amazing. The watchability of the NBA does not just apply to teams that win a lot of games, though. Look at the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that lost 145 games over the last three seasons. They’re still not that good, currently sitting in last place in the Northwest Division, but with the additions of Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams to go along with Kevin Love, this is a team that scintillates at times.

A while back, Bill Simmons wrote a column assessing the watchability of every team in the NBA. Simmons, a Clippers season-ticket holder (before the Clips revamped everything), was trying to decide which games he should go to and which ones he would not care to miss. Now, I am not a Bill Simmons fan boy; in fact, I think Simmons is, much like his beloved Boston Celtics, old and on the decline. That particular column, though, was great, and as much as I hate to shamelessly steal Bill Simmons’ idea … I’m going to. Here is my ranking of the top-five most watchable teams in the NBA.

1. Lob Angeles Clippers 

This team is far from perfect.  They are not particularly great at shooting free throws, and they sometimes suffer bad lapses in perimeter defense. They also lack depth in the frontcourt after Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. However, this team can get out and run, finish with authority, block shots, score off the bench and most importantly, hit big shots when the game is on the line. When you watch the Clippers play, it seems as if they overwhelm opponents with their sheer athleticism at both ends of the court, and all those dunks and blocks make for good viewing.

2. Miami Heat

One could definitely make the argument that the Heat deserve to be number one on this list. They possess the best player in the league, and two of the top five. They are a better scoring, rebounding and three-point shooting team. As fun as it is to watch the Clippers in transition, no team runs the fast break as effectively as the Miami Heat. So why did I choose the Clippers over the Heat? It comes down to the simple fact that the Clippers make more pretty plays per game than the Heat, who spend a lot of time at the free throw line. Also, Miami is dreadfully boring to watch when none of the Big Three are on the court (although this is a pretty rare occasion), even if their overall team depth is decent. Nobody wants to see Udonis Haslem hitting 10-foot jumpers. Also, reserve guard Norris Cole is something else. He could develop into a key player for the Heat as the season wears on.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

There is a lot to like about the Thunder. They are big, they can shoot, they block a lot of shots, they are tenacious on the boards, and their opponents generally shoot a very low percentage from the field. Oh yeah, and they have a lot of depth. While this team is certainly not devoid of high-flyers, they do not seem to dunk as much as the two teams ahead of them in this ranking, and that costs them style points. Also, I do not feel like Oklahoma City has fixed the composure issues that plagued them in last year’s Western Conference Finals. This team has a tendency to settle for perimeter shots in close games, and that’s not going to get it done in the playoffs. I also want to chime in on the whole Westbrook-Durant drama for a second. Listen, I firmly believe that Kevin Durant is the best and most clutch player on the Thunder. That being said, I love how aggressive Westbrook plays the point guard position, and I wish that some of Russell’s will to get to the rack would rub off on Durant. Everybody challenged Westbrook to get better this year, and he did, but somehow it seems like nobody wants to give him the credit he deserves. People just keep waiting for him to screw up again so they can talk about how he’s inhibiting KD’s development. What a crock of you-know-what; OKC’s best chance to win a championship is if Westbrook is playing point, and you would have to be a fool to not see that.

4. Chicago Bulls

All right, calm down Chicagoans, Bulls made my top-five. Honestly, no team in the NBA puts in the kind of defensive effort that that the Bulls do night in and night out. Not only do the Bulls hold their opponents to roughly 85 points per game, but they are also the best rebounding team, and one of the best shot-blocking teams, in the league. The Bulls may not be a scoring juggernaut, but they move the ball around effectively, and they tend not to make careless turnovers. The Bulls also shoot pretty well, and Derrick Rose is just a joy to watch; the man can do it all. Furthermore, it seems like the Bulls have solved a lot of their secondary scoring issues without making a big splash in the offseason. Deng, Boozer and Rip Hamilton have all played pretty well this season. Providing the team can stay healthy, the Bulls have as good of a shot as any team to win the whole thing.

5. Philadelphia 76ers

There are certainly a number of teams that deserve to be in the top five of this ranking. Denver is the best scoring team in the league, and they’re doing it without any legitimate superstars. Memphis is definitely a sneaky good team that looks dangerous in the Western Conference. However, I absolutely could not leave the 76ers off this list. In my opinion, no team has been as impressive as Doug Collins’ squad in the early going. This team can score, play defense and flat out kill you with depth. Seven players on the Sixers average over 10 points a game, and the fantastic Jodie Meeks is not one of them. The Sixers have quietly built a great team through solid draft picks and key free-agent acquisitions. I mean Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Meeks are all Sixers draft picks. Elton Brand came over through free agency in ’08, and it is as if people forgot how dominating he used to be. The Sixers can really shoot the basketball, and their prowess from the perimeter really opens up things for them in the paint. That is why the Sixers are able to get a lot of high-percentage looks, and that is why they are a fun team to watch. Look for the Sixers to make some noise this postseason.

-Kunal Basal ’12

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *