The NBA’s Most-Entertaining-Team Power Rankings

If you have NBA League Pass, and all you’re using it for is to watch your favorite team because you live out of market, you are badly shortchanging yourself basketball-wise.

(I mean yeah, don’t get me wrong, I love the Pacers, but I am first and foremost a lover of fine basketball and I must admit that Indiana doesn’t always play the most entertaining brand of basketball out there.)

So for you, the League Pass viewer, I’m going to offer you a very simple statistical model to rank 1-30 the teams you should be watching if you like entertaining basketball.

“And what, Fox, counts as entertaining basketball, in your never-humble opinion?”

I’m glad you asked, imaginary person I made up to drive the narrative.

Entertaining basketball means lots of points and the sense that no 20-point lead is safe. If you’re a neutral observer of a basketball game, you want wild swings, you want three-point outbursts, you want the game played at breakneck speed with plenty of action.

And if you don’t…well, start at the bottom of this list and work backwards. Because from 30-1 rather than 1-30, what you’ve got is teams most likely to get into a defensive slugfest right out of an early-aughts Eastern Conference playoff game.

So here’s how this works.

Teams get a score based on their rankings in pace, offensive rating, and defensive rating. Best team (meaning fastest team with best scoring and most points allowed) gets 1 point for every place in the rankings (1 point for 1st, 5 for 5th, 30 for 30th) in the first two categories and (31-rank) points for every place in defensive rating (30 points for 1st, 26 for 5th, 21 for 10th, and so on to 1 for 30th, meaning the worst defense has the highest entertainment value.

And because ultimately faster basketball is better than slower basketball, pace gets weighted double.

Lowest total score wins.

Got it? Let’s go. In order, Pace-ORtg-DRtg (Total)

1. Pelicans 3-4-8 (18)
2. Kings 2-14-11 (29)
3. Wizards 6-16-5 (33)
4. Bucks 4-2-25 (35)
5. Hawks 1-29-7 (38)
6. Clippers 9-5-17 (40)
7. Hornets 12-8-14 (46)
8. Warriors 17-1-12 (47)
9. 76ers 7-12-21 (47)
10. Lakers 5-17-22 (49)
11. Raptors 11-3-24 (49)
12. Trail Blazers 16-9-10 (51)
13. Mavericks 10-13-19 (52)
14. Spurs 23-11-2 (59)
15. Knicks 18-21-4 (61)
16. Thunder 8-18-30 (64)
17. Timberwolves 20-10-15 (65)
18. Bulls 13-30-13 (69)
19. Suns 19-28-3 (69)
20. Rockets 29-7-6 (71)
21. Nets 24-15-9 (72)
22. Heat 15-27-18 (75)
23. Pistons 14-25-23 (76)
24. Cavaliers 28-26-1 (83)
25. Jazz 21-23-20 (85)
26. Magic 25-20-16 (86)
27. Nuggets 27-6-27 (87)
28. Celtics 22-19-29 (92)
29. Pacers 26-22-28 (102)
30. Grizzlies 30-24-26 (110)

Now, here’s one thing you notice right away: There is very little correlation between a team that is good and one that is entertaining to a casual fan with no rooting interest.

This is because if you’re just tuning in to watch a basketball game, and your criteria is a fast-paced game with lots of points, sometimes a lousy team is actually exactly what you want! When the Pelicans played the Kings in the second game of their season, they won 149-129. The game was entertaining as hell!

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, the Pacers played the Grizzlies to a 111-83 snoozer (unless you’re a Pacers fan) on opening night, and when Memphis played Denver, the final score was 89-87.

Hey, some people like that kind of basketball. But I’d rather watch Kings-Pelicans or Bucks-Kings (144-109 Milwaukee) or Bucks-Clippers (128-126 Clips in overtime.)

So consider this your handy League Pass user’s guide. If you see two teams near the top of these Entertainment Standings playing each other, order a pizza and put on the game. You’ll be a more informed basketball fan too, because you can actually say “I saw those guys play, they’ve got this guy (insert name of third starter or bench role player) who can really put it in the basket.”

Happy viewing!