Top League Pass Teams: 1-5
It's time everyone! Here are my top ten League Pass teams next season and why I am so excited to watch them. Let's dive in!
The Bucks finally got a real coach, and one of the best in the game. I think Mike Budenholzer will take this team to new heights and maximize their talents. Oh, and then there is Giannis, who is worth the price of admission alone. No one has more breathtaking plays than Giannis; for god's sake he jumped over a 6'7 human being last season. I think he has another leap in him and the NBA should be scared.
Then there is Khris Middleton, who is criminally underrated. A crafty scorer, who has moves for days and has a chance to be a first-time All-Star this season. Milwaukee also improved their depth in the offseason with the additions of Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez. Both bring some much-needed shooting and are capable defenders.
The fit with Jabari Parker was never right, and I think the Bucks will be fine without him. Malcolm Brogdon healthy for the year will be huge and going into his third year, he may have his best year yet. The question is can Budenholzer maximize Eric Bledsoe on both ends? Thon Maker is the other question mark, the talent is there, and he has shown flashes in the playoffs, but can he put it all together?
I think Milwaukee is the fourth best team in the east, and I think Budenholzer will make a big difference. Their defense should be much better this season. Giannis, a new style and one of my favorite jerseys (the black ones with the giant deer) make the Bucks number five.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers might have been the most entertaining team last year, and this year should again be incredibly exciting. Talk about a unique team. They have a 6'10 point guard in Ben Simmons who makes passes only a few others in the league would dare to make. His development going into year two will be fascinating to watch, especially his shooting from the line. Then there is Joel Embiid one of the biggest personalities in the league, an elite defender, a dominant post player and a skilled big who should be an even better shooter this season. Embiid is a dark horse MVP candidate.
Philly might have fallen behind Toronto and Boston, but they can win 55 games. Their ceiling may be up to Markelle Fultz, who is the biggest question mark in the history of question marks. After an offseason of remodeling his jump shot, it's reportedly fixed, but we won't know until live action. I liked what I saw last year concerning playmaking, finishing, and defense. You should buy Fultz stock while you can, he reminds me a little of Dwayne Wade.
Then you have the criminally underrated Dario Saric, a tremendous two-way wing in Robert Covington and one of the best shooters in J.J Redick. Plus, no one plays harder than T.J McConnell! I also thought the addition of Mike Muscala was a sneaky good pickup. On the downside, the Philly curse continues, and rookie Zhaire Smith hurt his foot. Still, Philly has a lot to offer and should be excellent on both ends next season.
3. Toronto Raptors
How can you not be excited about the new look Drakes? They added Kawhi freakin’ Leonard. I get he may leave after this season, but he will be motivated this year, and this may be the best two way player in the game. Leonard probably should have been MVP two years ago and is a significant upgrade over DeMar DeRozan. Toronto was already a good defensive team, with Leonard they can be suffocating. I think they have the best personnel to deal with the Warriors if they get there.
Imagine a defensive death lineup of Leonard, Kyle Lowry, O.G Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam as a small ball five with Delon Wright or Fred Van Fleet. Danny Green, by the way, is more than just a throw-in. He is a terrific defender himself and he gives Toronto a little more shooting. Toronto is insanely versatile regarding different lineups they can throw out, and oh lord their young guys are good. Siakam is poised to take a big jump, Van Fleet is a sixth man of the year candidate, although he may start, and Anunoby should be much better in year two. Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas are the mainstays who should be solid as always; the question mark is Serge Ibaka. Can he bounce back; perhaps more time at the five will help?
Then there is new head coach Nick Nurse, who was the archetype of Toronto's new offense last year. It will be interesting to see how different they look from last year under Dwane Casey. Toronto is a legitimate title contender, yeah I said it.
2.New Orleans Pelicans
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People may be surprised to see the Pelicans this high, but they have a superstar in Anthony Davis who is hitting the apex of his powers. We saw it last year in the playoffs, and now I think he is ready to make an MVP case. Nikola Mirotic fits next to Davis like a glove, and by the numbers, they were even better than the Davis-DeMarcus Cousins pairing. Now they have added another versatile big in Julius Randle and they should have one of the best frontcourts in the league. Alvin Gentry will probably try to play all three together.
Then there is Jrue Holiday, one of the best two-way point guards in the game, E'Twaun Moore, who does his job, and newly added Elfrid Payton, who will try to replace Rajon Rondo. New Orleans will play at a blistering pace, and they have a chance to be a top ten defensive and offensive team. People are sleeping on New Orleans, and they are probably a wing away from being a serious contender, but they are going to be a tough out every night. Davis is in for a monster season; he has hit the point where no one can guard him. I think they make the playoffs and can be as high as the four seed. Their frontcourt will be a problem.
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Wow, I am pumped to watch the Nuggets next season. They are a unique, explosive team and should be even better this season. People still don't understand how good Nikola Jokic is and this year I think he is ready for his first All-Star birth. Jokic runs the offense, with elite passing, crafty post moves, and good shooting. Denver has assembled the perfect team around him. Jamal Murray is an explosive off the ball shooter, Gary Harris is perhaps the most underrated shooting guard in the game and Will Barton who gets buckets!
Add in a return of a healthy Paul Millsap, who is one of the best two way power forwards in the game, will help their defense. A lot of their young guys should be better this year, and they added two intriguing pieces in rookie Michael Porter Jr. and Isaiah Thomas. Porter should be ready by the season, and if he gives them anything, watch out. The Nuggets should be a top five offense with or without him. Then there is Thomas, who will come off the bench to get buckets and if he is healthy, he can be deadly in that role.
Denver should win 50 games, and I think they will be the five seed in the west. Their defense should be better and around league average, with how good their offense is, that is plenty. Denver is versatile, explosive and plays a unique style. Oh, and their new jerseys are fresh!