The leaves are all dead outside, as a nation’s eyeballs turn from their windows to fluorescent screens for the winter. To help ensure you’re not watching bad stuff, ESPN writer Zach Lowe has returned with his annual NBA League Pass Rankings. This usually entertaining list ranks teams by their TV entertainment value, factoring in things like highlights, style, and broadcast teams.
Confirming what many of us know to be true, Lowe ranked Toronto as the sixth most watchable team. The super fun Raptors finished behind the Warriors (DUHH), Cavaliers (duhh), Clippers (ok), Timberwolves (cute), and — wait, this can’t be right — the Knicks. They’re ahead of Boston, though, so it balances out in the end.
What does almighty Lowe say about the Raptors? Mostly nice things, starting with Kyle Lowry.
With Curry and Kevin Durant cannibalizing MVP votes, Contract-Year Lowry could be a stealth MVP candidate if the Drakes exceed expectations. (Note: This is an extreme long shot.)
He also looked at the question marks on the roster, including one DeMarre Carroll, whose injuries have kept the GTA biting their nails.
The other [wild card] is DeMarre Carroll, who barely played last season and has never looked as comfortable defending bigger wings (i.e., LeBron) as you would expect. If he's healthy, Carroll brings a 3-and-D combination Toronto doesn't have anywhere else on the roster, plus a knack for random off-ball cuts that surprise defenses fixated on Toronto's All-Stars.
He also unlocks promising small-ball groups; the lineup of Cory Joseph, Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll and Valanciunas logged only 36 minutes last season, and it could emerge as one of Dwane Casey's crunch-time fives.
Finally, Lowe threw subtle shade at the #NBAvote movement that’s derailed many a sponsor read during Raptors broadcasts.
The new court and logo look great, and the broadcast team is a joy outside the two weeks they spend incessantly lobbying for Lowry and DeRozan to make the All-Star team.
It feels nice to be loved. After Toronto, the Celtics, Thunder, Trail Blazers, and Rockets rounded out Lowe’s Top 10. For the entire list, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.