League Pass power rankings: Keep an eye out for Cavaliers, Trail Blazers

Published November 28, 2021, 5:30 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

The Cavaliers have been one of the most entertaining teams this season despite the injuries that caused their stars to miss time. The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, are starting to heat up after a slow start.

5. New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans have had a very, very rough start to the season. No Zion Williamson since opening day, no Brandon Ingram for half of November, and no hint of consistency from Devonte’ Graham and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The only bright spot for the Pelicans is Jonas Valanciunas, who has been a constant double-double threat. 

So why watch this team on League Pass? Because a 30-point explosion from Ingram or Alexander-Walker, a game-winning 3 from Graham, or a 26-point game on five 3s from Valanciunas can potentially happen. Also, the return of Zion is imminent. 

Get in early to have the right to say this when they start winning games (whether this season or the next): I was a Pelicans fan before it was cool to root for them.

4. Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic is another team that’s not winning a lot of games, but man, are they fun to watch at times. Those rare times usually include a scoring clinic held by Cole Anthony. 

Anthony has been missing games because of an ankle sprain, but come for more crazy statlines from Greg Anthony’s son when he comes back. Then after the game, stay for postgame interviews with Anthony, where he’s guaranteed to spit fire. 

Anthony aside, the Magic have a few more young talents (Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, RJ Hampton) who might whip out a jaw-dropping game or two. Then there’s the entertainer in Robin Lopez, who at one point against the defending champs Milwaukee Bucks, passive-aggressively asked his teammates to keep quiet while Giannis Antetokounmpo was shooting free throws. Giannis went 1-of-2.

 3. Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons wouldn’t want their season to be defined by that incident involving Isaiah Stewart and LeBron James. However, at 4-15, there’s a high possibility that it would be. Not much is expected from the Pistons except for a couple of pay-per-view-worthy games (see: Pistons vs Lakers).

From here on out, it would be interesting to see how teams will play opposite Stewart, knowing fully well there’s a bit of Hulk in him somewhere. Watching Cade Cunningham play basketball and witness him shed his rookie skin can also be fascinating. Totally unrelated, but in case you’re curious, the Pistons and Lakers are playing again on Nov. 29. You bet that’s a League Pass must-watch.

2. Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t very good, they said. Damian Lillard can no longer shoot, they said. Well, they’re wrong. 

After a slow, painful-to-watch start, the Blazers went on a bit of a hot streak. Lillard also went on a bit of a hotter streak, where he drained at least three 3s in five games. The Blazers won four of those, and all of a sudden they’re a .500 team in the West. 

You already know what to expect when watching Portland games—Lillard and CJ McCollum taking turns in carving up helpless team defenses. This season, though, a couple of other Blazers have also been exciting to watch. Keep an eye out for Anfernee Simons and Norman Powell on offense and Nassir Little on defense. If you catch them on a good night (i.e. Nov. 18 versus the Chicago Bulls), you’d understand why the Blazers are must-see TV.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

This season’s Cleveland Cavaliers is another story that’s heartwarming one moment then heartbreaking the next. The Cavs went on a solid start to the season and snatched a couple of big wins before losing Evan Mobley and Collin Sexton to injuries. 

Mobley, who’s been stellar for Cleveland, has made his return, but Sexton is likely out for the season. The emergence of Sixth Man Ricky Rubio has been unexpected. If he keeps this up for the entire season (and if the Cavs finish with a decent win-loss record), Rubio might have a shot at Sixth Man of the Year. All these, plus Darius Garland’s supernova upside are enough to put the Cavs at the top of your League Pass choices.