2022 NBA League Pass: ranking the most exciting teams to watch

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors poses with the four Larry O'Brien Championship Trophies that he has won with the Warriors during the Warriors Media Day on September 25, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors poses with the four Larry O'Brien Championship Trophies that he has won with the Warriors during the Warriors Media Day on September 25, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Every NBA team is fun to watch. Even the most grotesque offense and porous defense still involve the absolute highest-caliber basketball players in the world. They still score roughly 100 points per game and provide a cornucopia of beautiful plays and exciting highlights.

But there’s a massive difference between the most and the least fun teams to watch. To guide you in the coming days, I updated my previous League Pass Power Rankings for the 2022-2023 season. This is an exercise in subjectivity, so my list might not perfectly match yours (especially where your favorite team is concerned).

The quality of on-court play most heavily influences these rankings, but they also account for things like playstyle, the curiosity factor of a new lineup, the broadcast experience, jerseys and courts, exciting young players, new acquisitions, and more. Basically, it’s what I think will be the most enjoyable holistic experience on a nightly basis. Let’s kick things off with the team that I’m least excited about by far.

NBA League Pass #30: San Antonio Spurs

After being one of the best teams to watch for nearly two decades, this team has sunk into the absolute nadir of the NBA viewing experience. The roster is filled with unexciting young players with a limited ceiling, and the Spurs have shipped off their brightest glimmers of talent for draft picks as they lean into a tank for the first time in ages. Tre Jones as the starting point guard will be something to read about at a safe distance away from any TVs.

Every team has down years, and this one figures to be a rough viewing experience for San Antonio. But Spurs fans do have a few things to look forward to this year. Three different first-round picks are debuting, the SATX jerseys with the serape pattern jerseys are unique; the teal jerseys are ballers (Spurs duds are always sneakily excellent), and Victor Wembanyama just measured 7’4″ with an 8′ wingspan. Exciting stuff!

NBA League Pass #29: Utah Jazz

The Jazz have embraced the race for the bottom as Danny Ainge pulls off one of his patented “everything must go” rebuilds. That said, terrible teams are a great place to watch young guys stretch their wings and find out exactly where their limits are. Collin Sexton’s progress, in particular, will be interesting. If he can repeat his high-efficiency scoring season from 2020-21, Utah might have gotten a steal for $72 million. Lauri Markannen is an underrated dunker, and rookie Walker Kessler will be a shot blocking machine.

But if watching Sexton rehab his reputation is the best you can offer, you’re not going to do well in these rankings (and the new jerseys aren’t doing the Jazz any favors). Utah’s gaze is firmly focused on the future, and viewers’ gazes should be focused firmly on other teams.

NBA League Pass #28: Oklahoma City Thunder

This is a disappointing placement for a Thunder team that would have ranked significantly higher if Chet Holmgren had been healthy. In his absence, the Thunder still have some fun young guys to watch: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, stuttering his way to the hoop (whenever he returns from his injury); point forward Josh Giddey, dropping some of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see despite not being allowed to legally drink yet; Lu Dort, sticking to ballhandlers like white on rice; the rookies, Ja(ylin)len Williamses, acclimating; Darius Bazley, self-actualizing.

But, fair or not, watching the Thunder on League Pass this season will only make me imagine what could have been. Throw in a painfully bad broadcast team that makes me reach for the mute button every time, and the Thunder will be a relative bummer of a watch —which, to be clear, still makes them oodles of fun! Just not relative to the 27 teams above them.

As they prepare for the season, chemistry on the court will be a factor in a grueling 82-game schedule.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #27: Washington Wizards

It gets challenging after those three teams. Every single team remaining has compelling reasons to watch this year. So I’m sorry to fans of these lower-ranked teams; in absolute terms, your team is still great! There’s just a ton of exciting basketball this year, and it’s tough to stand out.

I’m pumped about the Wizards this year, but I can’t honestly make a hard case for them to the casual fan. Beal’s pairing with Kristaps Porzingis will be appealing for the 30 games they are both healthy. Kuzma’s rebounding is intriguing, as is Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura’s development.

The Wizards have a bunch of solid but unspectacular players who should be fighting for the play-in game in the most boring way possible. All that said, though, the Cherry Blossom jerseys are legitimately the best in the league. These things shot the Wizards past the Thunder single-handedly.

NBA League Pass #26: Indiana Pacers

I have a bit of a soft spot for the Pacers’ collection of try-hards from last year. Grinders like Isaiah Jackson, Terry Taylor, and Oshae Brissett appeal to my basketball sensibilities.

But this team only has one real reason to tune in: the starting backcourt. Tyrese Haliburton was a revelation after being traded to Indiana last season, shooting 50/42/85 percent and averaging nearly ten assists per game. Rookie Benedict Mathurin is a snarling, trash-talking wrecking ball that promises to be a thrilling watch.

However, outside of those two, Indiana is in ragged shape, with most of its remaining veterans subject to constant trade rumors. This will be an ugly season for Indiana. Hopefully, its young, dynamic backcourt will be able to entertain and grow.

NBA League Pass #25: Charlotte Hornets

This feels wrong. The Hornets have the most exciting play-by-play announcer in the NBA in Eric Collins and one of the most exhilarating young point guards around in LaMelo Ball. They also have some consistently beautiful court designs and jerseys. So, on the surface, it’s everything I love in a team… but the rest of the roster is honestly kind of bleak.

Kelly Oubre is wild, but there’s a strict ceiling to how watchable you can be if that’s your second-most interesting player (sorry, Terry Rozier). The Hornets’ offense loses some buzz without Miles Bridges, and it’s hard to see how the team’s defense will improve enough to make them competitive in the deep East.

In a normal year, even this watered-down squad would be in the middle of the pack in my League Pass rankings. But the league is too fun and too deep now, and even an objectively enjoyable team like Charlotte can still find itself towards the bottom of the list.

NBA League Pass #24: Phoenix Suns

The Suns will be really, really good. But they’re going to be the exact same as they’ve been for the last two years: an endless march of precision pick-and-rolls, Chris Paul complaints, and Devin Booker midranges. It will be good basketball, but there’s no novelty to it. We know what we’re getting from Phoenix, and since these are preseason rankings, I’m more intrigued by the novelty factor many other teams are bringing than the metronomic competence of Phoenix.

The best reason to watch is to see if either DeAndre Ayton or Mikal Bridges have made significant strides as players, but with the ball constantly in the hands of Paul and Booker, it’ll be difficult for the young guys to showcase any improvements.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
Jalen Green (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #23: Detroit Pistons

Pistons fans have to be ecstatic about this team. Cade Cunningham looks like the real deal at point, rookie combo guard Jaden Ivey is a living Detroit muscle car, and fellow frosh Jalen Duren brings shades of Ben Wallace with more offensive polish.

But this team is a year away from being must-see TV for neutral fans. The rest of the lineup is a little clumsy around those three (though newcomer Bojan Bogdanovic will help): Marvin Bagley, Killian Hayes, and Isaiah Stewart are all odd fits with the core, and the offense will likely suffer as a result. So don’t take the ranking here at 23 personally, Pistons fans. Detroit is one of the most beguiling teams to keep an eye on long-term. But the viewing experience will be a little sloppy in the coming season.

NBA League Pass #22: New York Knicks

While I’m interested to see how the roster looks with new addition Jalen Brunson, this team seems destined for the play-in amidst a barrage of midrange jumpers and effortful but outdated defensive schemes.

Worth noting: for all the brouhaha around Brunson’s contract, he is the 15th-highest-paid point guard in the league now, and that’s probably about where I’d rank him skill-wise. The contract is fine, and he’s a fine player. It’s all fine.

RJ Barrett’s transformation in the second half of last season into a rim-seeking missile bears watching. The broadcast team and production values remain top-notch, the jerseys are classic, and there are some interesting young pieces here (Grimes, Toppin, Quickley, etc.). But the whole thing has a hard ceiling, both in terms of on-court quality and overall entertainment value.

NBA League Pass #21: Houston Rockets

The two main draws are Jalen Green’s development as a top-flight scorer and Alperen Sengun’s addictively euphoric passing. Sengun might throw a ball into the third row at least once per game, but he’s also capable of Jokic-esque masterpieces like this:

Any Rockets game is guaranteed to be entertaining, but they will be bad this year. I legitimately think Houston is the favorite to be the worst defense in the league. Of course, from a neutral perspective, that’s not always bad! I worry a bunch of blowouts are in Houston’s future, though, which knocks them down a peg as a League Pass draw.

Overall, this season is about development for the Rockets and their preposterously young core. I expect them to climb significantly higher in next year’s rankings.

NBA League Pass #20: Sacramento Kings

The Fox and the Ox (I still don’t know if that’s going to stick, but I’m going to try it out for a while) should be a superb offensive pairing. Rookie Keegan Murray proved to be a big-moment machine in Summer League, and the additions of Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter bring some much-needed shooting to Sacramento.

Unfortunately, that’s likely still not enough to make them a playoff team, and although they have some fun young guys, there’s nobody that screams must-see TV. I like this Kings squad a lot more than any Sactown lineup since Boogie Cousins was still racking up techs in purple and white, but that isn’t saying a lot.

The offense will be fun, though, and while the team defense projects disastrously, Davion Mitchell will provide some cool moments of on-ball skullduggery. When he’s motivated and in shape, Fox is still one of the most explosive athletes in a league filled with heavy ordnance. Kings fans deserve a fun season, so let’s hope this team exceeds my expectations.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
Russell Westbrook (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #19: Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are a good team that plays ugly basketball but I adore the Raptors’ overall aesthetic, and they have a distinct core of overlapping pieces. Scottie Barnes, the reigning Rookie of the Year, is as charismatic as they come, and Pascal Siakam is the league’s most disrespected superstar.

They force a ton of turnovers (the highest TO% in the league!), foul a lot, and pound the offensive glass. They eked out a league-average offense by winning the possession battle; their half-court offense was painful at times, heavily reliant on Siakam isolations and Fred VanVleet bombs.

The rise of Scottie Barnes and the weirdness of watching so many like-sized players are two good reasons to tune in. Any of the Raptors’ core players (including OG Anunoby) could rise to another level.

NBA League Pass #18: Los Angeles Lakers

Even after almost two decades, LeBron remains the ultimate basketball tactician, barking orders and setting teammates up in optimal spots with a keen mind and fluid passing. His quest to become the all-time scoring leader will undoubtedly result in some exciting games.

The entertainment value of watching Russ Westbrook and Patrick Beverley share the court (assuming Russ makes it through training camp without being traded) will also be high on my list of must-see moments to start the year. That backcourt actually makes a lot of basketball sense together, but the whole thing feels forced and performative right now.

We know injuries are an issue with the Lakers, and even at full health, they will likely be a bit of a grind to watch. I am curious if Lonnie Walker can replicate Malik Monk’s success last season as a reclamation project and if the once-promising Kendrick Nunn is still alive.

NBA League Pass #17: Miami Heat

Miami will still be a fantastic team even without making significant moves this offseason (besides losing PJ Tucker). Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro still have room to grow offensively, and Jimmy Butler is the best player in the league at knowing when to take over and when to defer to teammates.

Kyle Lowry is due for a bounce-back year after last season’s personal absences, injuries, and conditioning woes. The Spoelstra-designed offense is a beautiful, egalitarian meld of off-ball movement, clever cutting, and unselfish play.

There is always joy in seeing what random player will pop off for Miami (my bet: Haywood Highsmith is next). Their defense, keyed by Adebayo’s peerless fluidity, should be among the league’s best again. But there’s not much of a curiosity factor here, and the absence of the Vice City jerseys is a devastating blow to basketball aesthetes everywhere.

NBA League Pass #16: Boston Celtics

Like the Suns, the Celtics are going to be very good. You know that you’ll watch a competent team play winning basketball every night. They have a beautiful court and great jerseys. But like the Suns, the Celtics aren’t always a particularly exciting watch, and their biggest addition was Malcolm Brogdon to fill the Sixth Man role.

Bob Williams’ underrated passing and springy defense are fun, but he’s out for months after another knee surgery. Reigning DPOY Marcus Smart will do something to raise your eyebrows, whether it’s drawing a clutch charge or missing four straight threes without passing the ball and Jaylen Brown is an underrated dunker.

The Ime Udoka situation is a mess, but it shouldn’t impact the nightly performance much. The Williams injury could lead to yet another slow Boston start, but we have no questions about the Celtics until the playoffs start, and they don’t have the sort of performance artists that other squads do. Instead, they’re just filled with very good players doing quality basketball things.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
Kyrie Irving (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #15: Brooklyn Nets

This ranking is wrong. Brooklyn is a top-five team, with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant leading a revitalized roster filled with smart, effective two-way players to a top seed in the East and championship favorite status. Durant and Irving reiterate their place as two of the league’s most talented offensive options, Joe Harris and TJ Warren return from injury to give much-needed two-way wing play, and Ben Simmons becomes the ultimate glue guy, locking down the opponent’s best player while averaging double-digit assists and leading the league in transition buckets.

Brooklyn is one of the least talented lineups in the league, burdened by the absences (through trades, vaccination issues, moodiness, ghosthunting adventures, a Rip Van Winkle-like trance, expeditions to find the edge of the Earth) of its stars, and injuries to a fragile supporting cast. As a result, the team’s play is perfunctory, the excellent announcing team can’t muster up much enthusiasm, and drama proves to be Brooklyn’s undoing as the Durant/Irving era ends with a whimper.

One of those two statements above will prove to be prophetic, but it’s impossible to know which one. The Nets will either be a top-five or a bottom-five team to watch, so I’m hedging my bets and putting the Nets squarely in the middle.

NBA League Pass #14: Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis remains a rapturous viewing experience. The league has never seen a player with his combination of size and skill, and I love watching him run through and around defenders before extending his selfie-stick arms for the slam.

Jrue Holiday’s in-your-grill defense and somewhat wild offensive game are great fun. Middleton’s return as a master of the midrange gives the Bucks an old-school vibe, and Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis ensure that the Bucks are always one of the biggest teams on the court, a nice change of pace from the current trend towards smaller, quicker lineups.

Milwaukee has a strong announcing team, too. Like many of the other top teams, we know what to expect from Milwaukee this season. Giannis is a spectacle nonpareil, however, and that gives Milwaukee an edge in these rankings.

NBA League Pass #13: Dallas Mavericks

Luka Magic is always a pleasure to watch, flinging backward over-the-head passes with abandon, draining stepbacks, and bullying smaller defenders with a surprisingly mean post-game. However, Luka’s constant kvetching drives me bonkers. He’s so much worse than the next biggest offender (Chris Paul) that it actively detracts from my enjoyment of the game.

Surrounding an all-time passer with a plethora of shooting is a winning recipe, and switching out Jalen Brunson for sweet-shooting big Christian Wood may result in an even more effective offense. Coach Jason Kidd and his staff trying to cobble together another good defense (somehow eighth in the league last year!) with matadors Wood and Doncic playing big minutes will be intriguing from an X’s and O’s perspective.

NBA League Pass #12: Portland Trail Blazers

Lillard and new backcourt mate Anfernee Simons are two of the best on-ball creators in the league. After years of tantalizing but ultimately disappointing play, Simons was a revelation last season, ranking in the 96th percentile for spot-up shooting and the 90th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler, according to Synergy Sports.

He’ll be doing a lot of both next to Lillard. The newly-minted nine-digit-man looks to improve upon his breakout 2021-2022 campaign next to a revamped roster that features the best lineup in recent Portland memory. The days of starting Didi Louzada and CJ Elleby are long gone, as the Blazers now go at least eight deep with legitimately solid players that will give them more two-way oomph than Damian Lillard has ever had.

This Blazers team is being slept on, and I think their duo of star guards (plus the mysterious rookie, Shaedon Sharpe) give a lot of individual reasons to watch. In a crowded West, they might not have enough sheer top-end talent to make a deep playoff run, but they should be a strong regular season team and a fun night-in and night-out watch.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
John Collins (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #11: Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young is all about buckets (for both teams)! The Hawks have been a top-10 offense each of the last two seasons, and their defense has generally been execrable in Trae’s tenure, which makes for fast-paced, exciting games.

Young can launch artillery strikes from Decatur or throw the softest lobs you’ve ever seen to a series of high-flying athletes like John Collins, Clint Capela, and Onyeka Okongwu. Last year’s Summer League star Jalen Johnson figures to get more run on the wing next to De’Andre Hunter, whose promise has continually been derailed by injuries.

I love it when the background noise is quieter and you can hear Sir Foster’s organ music shining through. It’s one of the most memorable local broadcast quirks in the league.

NBA League Pass #10: Chicago Bulls

Classic jerseys, a diverse variety of play styles, and top-10 potential on both sides of the ball? What’s not to like? Last year’s highest-scoring duo, midrange maestro DeMar DeRozan and acrobatic sniper Zach LaVine, brought the fireworks every night. Second-year player Ayo Dosunmo throws himself around with abandon and Derrick Jones Jr.

He catches some of the most absurd alley-oops you’ll ever see. Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball (get well soon!) are the league’s best defensive backcourt. Your mileage may vary with color commentator Stacey King, but I’ve always enjoyed his eccentricities.

NBA League Pass #9: Orlando Magic

This team is not going to be good. Let’s get that out of the way first. But I can’t wait to see how their bizarre offensive pieces will fit together! Paolo Banchero, the surprise #1 overall pick, is a reinvention of Chris Webber and promises to be the best playmaker on the Magic already.

Rising center Wendell Carter Jr. (who averaged 18 and 11 in the second half of last season!) and last year’s rookie sensation Franz Wagner round out a trio of large men who are superb passers for their size, leading to a strangely inverted offense. I feel for the star-crossed Markelle Fultz, who suffered a broken toe and is out indefinitely, but it may be a blessing in disguise for Orlando, as it grants more on-ball reps to their big three.

Mo Bamba’s still here. Jalen Suggs will look to rebound after a disappointing first season on offense, and Cole Anthony is wondering why nobody ever talks about him despite being the Magic’s best scorer last year and a top interview in the league.

The Magic have so many interesting young pieces that don’t quite fit together. Watching them attempt to mash these strange shapes into a cohesive whole, like my toddler attempting to fortify a block tower with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, will be quite the spectacle.

NBA League Pass #8: Los Angeles Clippers

The healthy returns of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard bolster the strongest on-paper roster in the league. John Wall used to be one of the most exciting players in the NBA; we’ll see if he can bring even part of that spark with him to a Clippers team that desperately needs point guard production.

George is criminally underrated, Norm Powell is a guaranteed 18 points per night, and second-year player Brandon Boston has sky-high potential. The Clippers have been derailed by injuries every step of the way, but this is the year to make things happen. Even in a loaded league, few have this amount of top-end talent, and nobody can compete with this kind of depth. I’m thrilled to see what the premier LA team looks like when firing on all cylinders.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
Tobias Harris #12, Tyrese Maxey #0, James Harden #1, and Joel Embiid (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #7: Denver Nuggets

It’s insane that my go-to League Pass guy, Nikola Jokic, is only seventh on this list, and it speaks to how awesome the league is right now. Jokic might be the most creative passer in league history, period, and he’s also one of the league’s most versatile scorers. He’s capable of awkward midrange fadeaways, stepback threes, or beautiful footwork in the post.

Even his rebounding is entertaining: instead of jumping and grabbing it like a regular basketball player, he simply keeps tipping it out of reach of the other players until they tire and he can grab it unmolested. It’s funnier than it sounds, I swear.

Aaron Gordon still brings pain to rims league-wide, and the returns of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray promise to turbocharge one of the league’s most potent offenses. Murray, in particular, has developed fantastic chemistry with Jokic, and the two make for some scintillating two-man ballet in the pick-and-roll.

I’m also intrigued by the potential emergence of Bones Hyland as the sixth man. He’s a deep-shooting, charismatic point guard who disappears when he turns sideways. Hyland’s ability to be a spark plug off the bench will be vital to sustaining success when Jokic and Murray sit.

NBA League Pass #6 Cleveland Cavaliers

Donovan Mitchell’s addition should ignite a Cavs offense that was entirely reliant upon Darius Garland last season, and the two might be the most potent offensive backcourt in the league (non-Splash Bros edition).

The duo is backed up by Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, two defensively dominant bigs. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the fifth spot. I suspect that Spanish passing savant Ricky Rubio may end up in the closing lineup by the end of the season to create a group with absurd amounts of passing and ballhandling. I can already see the zip-zip-zip ball movement of that group in my mind’s eye, and it is a wonderful thing. Don’t let me down, Coach Bickerstaff!

The trade for Mitchell was a bet that Mobley had untapped offensive potential. He’s already one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA, Bam Adebayo 2.0, with the size and touch to turn into a face-up offensive weapon. The Cavs are likely still a tier or two behind the top teams in the East, but they have four guys who fit together beautifully, and if they can find a fifth complementary piece either internally or through a trade, there’s no telling how good they can be (if only they’d trade broadcast teams with someone else, too).

NBA League Pass #5: Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers are going to be awesome this year. James Harden and Joel Embiid were last season’s best pick-and-roll duo, and Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris are overqualified as the third and fourth offensive options. For all his flaws, Doc Rivers has usually been able to develop some interesting offensive plays that make the most of his players’ skills, and I’m excited to see what he cooks up after a full offseason to work with Harden.

PJ Tucker and Montrezl Harrell bring the nastiness that Embiid publicly asked for, and De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr. are superb bench options that can play with the starters or back them up. Guys who played major minutes for the 76ers last year, like Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Georges Niang, can now be used more appropriately as specialists and deep-bench players.

This Philadelphia roster is stacked with tight-fitting pieces. They’re also old and injury-prone, but if they can keep all their bones, ligaments, and tendons together, the 76ers have a real chance to emerge from the East.

NBA League Pass #4: Minnesota Timberwolves

Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns make up one of the most intriguing trios in recent league history. KAT and Gobert might be the best pure scoring and defensive bigs in the league, and I have no idea how well they’ll work together. From a viewing perspective, uncertainty equals excitement. A lot is expected of Edwards, and he needs to be an efficient 25+ point scorer for this team to reach its ceiling. KAT will have to curtail his reaching tendencies and learn to shuffle his feet.

Embattled point guard D’Angelo Russell is an underrated playmaker who should feast with Gobert as a legit alley-oop threat; both players will be playing with the best P&R partner they’ve ever had. KAT and Edwards are likely to stay attached at the hip, building on the Jokic/Murray-like chemistry they started developing last season.

The Wolves have plenty of depth, as well, but the novelty factor of seeing a legitimately giant twin tower lineup is the draw here (I must see a KAT-Gobert pick-and-roll before I die!). There’s nothing subtle about it. This franchise bet big, literally, that Gobert, Edwards, and Towns could be a championship core. All three players are incredible but flawed, and at least two will have to be better than they’ve ever been for Minny to be a contender. I’m cautiously optimistic they can reach that level, and I’ll definitely be watching to find out.

2022-2023 NBA League Pass Power Rankings
Draymond Green #23, Klay Thompson #11 and Stephen Curry #30 (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

NBA League Pass #3: New Orleans Pelicans

Any time you have a chance to see an honest-to-god mutant on the court, you need to take it, right? Zion Williamson is why scientists still call gravity a theory. Nobody in his shape should be able to do the things he does, and his presence is must-watch television (as a reminder, in just his second season in the league, he averaged 27 ppg on 61% shooting). 61%! That’s silliness.

The Pelicans have CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram as point scorers. Ingram, in particular, looked like that dude in an excellent showing against the Suns in last year’s playoffs. The Pels also start an actual mountain man in Jonas Valančiūnas and bring off the bench the most fun (or annoying) defensive player in the league in Jose Alvarado, here to ruin Chris Paul’s day.

Herb Jones is already a top-ten perimeter defensive player, and if his three-point shot is real, he could be the ultimate role player. This team was good last year without Zion. We’ve never seen a player like him before, and if he can stay on the court for 65 games, this could be a top-five offense with limitless potential.

NBA League Pass #2: Memphis Grizzlies

If Jokic is the most entertaining player to watch in the league, Ja Morant is a close number two:

I can babble all I want about the Magic’s fun inverted offense or the way the Mavericks will construct their defense. But at the end of the day, we all want to watch cool people do cool stuff on the basketball court, and nobody is colder than Ja.

The Grizzlies were overlooked in the West last year as the two-seed when they played a couple of wildly entertaining playoff series against the Timberwolves and the Warriors. Everyone is expecting a Hawks-like tumble this year, but the team’s core is young and improving and they have whatever you like in a basketball team. They fly around the court on defense, play a breakneck style of offense, and have magnetic personalities.

Like the Heat, the Grizzlies have done a fantastic job of developing low-end talent, and they proved they didn’t need Ja to win last year. But they do need Ja to claim a spot this high in the League Pass rankings.

NBA League Pass #1: Golden State Warriors

Who else could it be? A hot Steph or Klay can be the best show on television, Andrew Wiggins is putting together one of the most impressive career turnarounds of our time, and Draymond Green is still the NBA’s most intelligent defensive player. The old guard and Steve Kerr’s unique offensive system are reason enough to place Golden State in the top five of these rankings.

But now, the Warriors have a new crop of young stars and they’re growing, upping my interest further. Jordan Poole has become a legitimate Splash Bro (he shot 51%/39%/92% in the playoffs on high volume — that’s historically absurd efficiency), Jonathan Kuminga is a hyper-athletic defensive menace, and Moses Moody could become this year’s, Desmond Bane. I don’t know what to make of James Wiseman, but I’m interested in seeing how he does with real NBA minutes.

4 NBA Finals contenders nearing the end of their run. dark. Next

You know the Warriors will deliver quality basketball every night, and they are nicely balancing their chase for yet another championship with a strong developmental focus on grooming the next generation. Pleasing jerseys and a beautiful court round out a top-notch experience that only suffers from homerific announcers. The Warriors are officially back on top of both the league and these rankings.