Before every NBA season over the last few years, ESPN’s Zach Lowe, one of the more astute observers covering the league, goes about ranking all 30 teams in terms of their watchability in what he calls “League Pass Rankings.” Lowe assigns teams scores in five categories — zeitgeist, highlight production, style, league pass minutia and unintended comedy — with those scores determining a point total and thus, each team’s ranking. The scores are subjective, but at least the approach is scientific.
And this year, your Portland Trail Blazers come in at No. 8 on Lowe’s rankings, one spot better than last season…
Portland runs much of the same beautiful, flowing read-and-react offense the Mavericks use, though the Blazers have superstars who punctuate it with flair — or bust the hell out of it when they feel like doing their thing.
Damian Lillard has Curry range. C.J. McCollum is a fast-twitch phantom, always on the move, knees bent, ready to change direction. He might tote the league’s deepest arsenal of dribble moves and in-between shots; McCollum hit an incredible 52.2 percent of shots taken between 8 and 16 feet from the rim, second-best among 105 rotation players who tried at least 1.5 shots per game from that ultra-tricky range, per NBA.com. There’s a reason I’ve called him the NBA’s Dean Malenko.
Jusuf Nurkic brought some needed brutality and scoring, and nearly matched Mason Plumlee as a pick-and-roll playmaker. The Blazers’ art is all great, though their new red jersey, with monochrome black lettering, shares the Kevin-Arnold-In-Gym-Class look with Indiana’s yellow duds.
The Trail Blazers also get good marks from Lowe for the TV broadcast crew of Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd. Lowe, who by virtue of his occupation watches local team broadcasts regularly, calls Calabro a “NBA legend on play-by-play” and Hurd a budding “industry star.”
The Trail Blazers come in ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 9 and behind the Cavaliers at No. 7.