Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
With the season less than two weeks away, give me your League Pass hero: Who’s the guy who you’ll scour League Pass to watch, no matter who he’s playing?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: The easy answer would be LeBron James, but don’t go boldfacing that on me because he’s not my answer today. You really could have one guy for every day of the week, y’know. Like Derrick Rose and, when he’s back, Kobe Bryant for their comebacks. Like Dwight Howard for his redemption season. Like Ricky Rubio for his passing wizardry but also for the crossroads he has reached. Like Kevin Garnett, to whom I’m partial after raising him from a Timberpup in Minnesota. But day in, day out, my League Pass guy this season is going to be Kevin Durant – I don’t feel like I’ve had enough of a ringside seat for his blossoming, with his second-best status playing out in OKC a little under the national radar. Until he’s coming to us regularly in The Finals, I guess we have to go to him.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The obvious answer is LeBron James, because we could be watching the brick-by-brick construction of the G.O.A.T. Then there’s the need to watch every step of Dwight Howard‘s attempt to re-establish himself as a player who can carry his team to The Finals. But from a pure entertainment — how does he do that? — standpoint, I’ll dial up Stephen Curry any time I can to see that soft, quick, sharper-than-a-stiletto shot do its deadly stuff as long as his frail body holds up.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Here in the Central time zone I’m a West Coast League Pass junkie. After the kids are tucked in and the wife is off reading in her favorite chair (or outright dozing off in her favorite chair), it’s time to catch some late-night hoops. This category is a dead-heat for me between Stephen Curry and Chris Paul. After Curry’s mesmerizing playoffs and the Warriors’ offseason addition of Andre Iguodala, they’re must-see TV. And with CP3 now being an extension of coach Doc Rivers, the Clips are on a mission and I don’t want to miss any of it.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: It’s still a LeBron James world. If I can only pick one guy, I’ll pick the best player in the world. Offense or defense, distributing or scoring, getting on a hot streak from the perimeter or crashing the lane, no one else is as much a highlight waiting to happen every moment he’s on the court.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Andre Drummond. With his combination of size, athleticism and budding skills, he’s got as high a ceiling as any young player in the league right now. He blocks shots, jumps in passing lanes, runs the floor, and throws down thunderous dunks. For a portion of last season, the Pistons were an underrated League Pass team with a fun second unit, featuring Drummond and some great 3-point shooting. This season, with the additions of Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith and a guy named Luigi, Detroit should be 10 times more fascinating. And the No. 1 reason to tune in is the 6-foot-10, 20-year-old freak who had a crush on the girl from iCarly.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: First and foremost, League Pass is the greatest thing to happen to NBA basketball since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird showed up. Seriously, the greatest! I’ll make it a point to find the Portland Trail Blazers every chance I get. Damian Lillard was an absolute baller last season, snagging Rookie of the Year honors and doing so without nearly the fanfare he would have garnered had he played in a bigger media market. It’s one thing to see highlight clips of what he did or to read accounts of it. It’s quite another thing to watch his games and study how advanced his game was for a rookie at what has become the league’s most difficult position to play. He’s attained some commercial success over the past year and clearly made a name for himself with the basketball establishment (he was invited to Las Vegas for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team’s mini-camp in July for a reason). League Pass gives you a chance to tune in and watch the evolution of a young superstar from afar. And it doesn’t get much better than that in my eyes.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: This reminds me of the legendary Ben Handlogten, who played for the Jazz a few seasons back. I had never heard of him when the season started, but he was fun to watch and had a funny name, so I started watching every Jazz game on League Pass, just hoping Handlogten would get off the bench and in. Point being, my favorite League Pass players are generally guys who are not stars, who may not log regular playing time, but who have the perennial potential of pulling off something memorable. This season, I might have to go with Gerald Green, who was dealt from the Pacers to the Suns in the Luis Scola deal. Phoenix probably won’t be logging much national TV time this season, but when you have a guy on the floor who can literally kiss the rim playing in a wide-open offense, to me that’s worth tuning in.
Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com/Greece: That’s a no-brainer. Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is the fan favorite in Greece. A skinny kid who fought adversity and leaped from the second division of Greece to the No. 15 pick of the Draft. He had a great preseason debut and he is working hard to earn his playing time on a young team like the Bucks. Everybody back home is rooting for him. Bring it on, LeBron.
Aldo Miguel Aviñante, NBA.com/Philippines: Ricky Rubio is a player I want to watch regardless of the opponent. He is marvelous on the floor with his magnificent passing ability. Minnesota is also a team that could be on the rise with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic healthy again, plus the addition of Kevin Martin might take them to the next level. With Coach Rick Adelman‘s uptempo and entertaining style of basketball, they will be fun to watch.