With the advent of real, actual NBA preseason basketball, fans get to flip their calendars to the 2017-2018 season and start gearing up for one of the more anticipated campaigns of the last decade. As always, at Knicks at Night, we look ahead and break down the upcoming year, not by the quality of each team’s roster, but by how entertaining each should be to watch on a nightly basis. With nearly half the league’s All-Stars changing homes over the summer, there’s a lot more variability in these rankings and a lot of exciting, new situations to monitor. There’s never been a better time to plunk down that 100 bucks or so for the league’s premier subscription service, but also never a harder time choosing who to watch on a given night. To help answer that question… here are your Fourth Annual League Pass Watchability Rankings!
Just like with the Miami Heat, there isn’t a ton of intrigue for a Washington team that returns pretty much every rotation player from the squad that won the most games for the franchise since 1975.
As with Miami, the backcourt will lead the way for Washington, with John Wall looking to take on Kobe Bryant’s challenge to make first team All-Defense and Bradley Beal building on the best season of his career to chase that elusive 50-40-90 shooting club. The team should hope to see more growth from Otto Porter after throwing down a max contract for him this summer and is likely also expecting a little more from third year forward Kelly Oubre than beating down a fellow Kelly on national television. If either of these guys take a big step forward this season and becomes a legitimate third star to pair with Wall and Beal, then this is a group with the talent and the roster continuity to challenge even the two big dogs in the East.
Of course, there’s also the strong possibility that their success is torpedoed by the two factors that brought them down last season: a pitiful defense and their awful, eyesore of a bench. The Wiz did bring in some scoring punch in backup guards Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks and could easily benefit from a strong addition by subtraction scenario in losing two of the worst players in the league last year in Trey Burke and Bojan Bogdanovich. Still, the success of the second unit will likely come down to any strides taken by Oubre (and second year guard Tomas Satoransky) and the improved health of Ian Mahinmi. Washington signed Mahinmi to a four year $64 million contract last season, which has quickly started to look even as poor as Joakim Noah’s; the center played in only 31 games last year and looked absolutely terrible when he was on the court. Theoretically, he should be able to provide a stout interior presence, and great backup minutes for Marcin Gortat, as the Polish Hammer ages, but this is definitely going to be a prove-it year for Mahinmi.
Still, with how terrible the East is, these guys should be an absolute lock to win close to 50 games and secure homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs. If Wall and Beal stay healthy, they’re simply too talented for this team not to coast through most nights and they looked outright dominant for large stretches of last year, sporting a top 10 offense and posting a 17 game home winning streak that took a ridiculous overtime performance by Cleveland to snap.
Not only that, but they’re a remarkably fun team to watch when they’re firing. Wall and Gortat have developed an almost psychic connection in the pick- and-roll with the floor spaced wide open by the sniper-like shooting of Beal and Porter. Markieff Morris gives this team an undeniable badass toughness while Boston adding his brother Marcus in the offseason should make the NBA’s best rivalry even better. This team could still use one more playmaker, and exchanging that first rounder for a half-year rental of Bojan Bogdanovich certainly hurts in retrospect, but as long as John Wall is barreling down the court at full speed this is always going to be one of the league’s more consistently fun offenses to watch on a nightly basis.