League Pass power rankings: Enjoy the Morant and Tatum show

Published March 14, 2022, 2:00 PMMiguel Flores

The explosive Ja Morant and Jayson Tatum have made the Grizzlies and Celtics two of the most fun NBA teams to watch.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves (39-30)

It's special finally seeing a group of young players figure it out. The Timberwolves have always been one piece or breakaway from turning their franchise's fortunes around. It's finally happening for them this year.

It can be said that Karl-Anthony Towns hasn't really gotten better because he's always been this good. The All-Star bigman has gotten love this years for his offensive game, averaging 24.3 points on 52/40/81 shooting splits. These aren't new numbers for Towns. It's just that his teammates have finally picked up the slack.

Minnesota’s main lineup of Towns, Patrick Beverly, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Jarred Vanderbilt is the third best five-man lineup in the league. They’ve even gotten support from the bench in Malik Beasley, who just set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a game against Oklahoma City.

This is great for Minnesota. After nearly 20 years, they finally have a team that’s both young and competitive. 

4. Dallas Mavericks (42-26)

Who can resist a bit of Luka Magic? Finally in the best shape of his career, Luka Doncic has been tearing teams up lately, averaging 32 points on 49 percent shooting with 12 rebounds and six assists last week. 

Luka’s not the only reason the Mavs are 8-2 in their last 10 games and one of the best teams in terms of net rating after the All-Star break. Spencer Dinwiddie has been a terrific pickup for them, providing more shot creation next to Doncic. Jaylen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Reggie Bullock have been lights-out from deep. 

With Doncic making decisions for your team, spacing and cutting is all you really need. Don’t be surprised if you get more NBA app notifications of Doncic cooking teams at halftime.

3. Philadelphia 76ers (41-25)

Even Philly’s losses lately have been must-watch TV.

If you didn’t catch it, Ben Simmons returned to Philadelphia last Friday… sort of. He still wasn’t available to play, but he was there to attend shootaround and stick around for the game. That was enough to create compelling TV. If anything, Simmons being there provided momentary cathartic release for Philly fans as the Brooklyn Nets ran their team off the floor.

The drama didn’t end after the game. There was, of course, more talks about Simmons. Did he get what he want for his grievance against the Sixers? Who knows? Then there was James Harden partying with Lil Baby and Travis Scott after the 29-point blowout.

The on-court product of the Beard and Embiid will always be solid. The off-court, reality-TV show the Sixers have become make them must-watch. 

2. Boston Celtics (41-28)

Let Marcus Smart keep believing they’re being slept on if that’s what it takes for them to suddenly become Finals favorites.

The Celtics’ transformation from unwatchable to the scariest team in the Eastern Conference deserves its own documentary. Around January, the Celtics suddenly decided to fully buy-in to Ime Udoka’s system and never looked back.

Boston is plus-15.1 over their last 18 games, a mark that puts them miles ahead of any other team in the league. Jayson Tatum is on a tear, scoring 54, 44, and 31 points in his last three games. 

The Celtics are doing everything right. Can they keep rising in the Eastern Conference standings to earn home court advantage? Their upcoming West coast swing is going to be crucial.

1. Memphis Grizzlies (47-22)

The safest bet to have a fun time watching basketball is to turn on a Grizzlies game. The safest bet to get your kid to love basketball is to get them to sit down for a Ja Morant game.

This Memphis experience feels like the early 2000s excitement around Allen Iverson and Vince Carter. The combination of athleticism, youth, and hair makes Morant one of the most magnetic faces of the NBA. The Grizzlies imbibe much of the same ethos, playing a style that tilts opponents to the maximum.

The Western Conference playoffs will be a slugfest. The Grizzlies can be confident that they may have the best player on the court heading into any series.