League Pass power rankings: Suns continue to torch, Spurs’ Murray a fun watch

Published December 26, 2021, 6:00 PMJon Carlos Rodriguez

The Suns with their dangerous core and the Spurs led by Dejounte Murray headline this week’s must-watch teams.

Rosters are in disarray, several games have been postponed, and 10-day contracts are being signed left and right. If you think now is the time to look away, you’re mistaken. On the contrary, games on NBA League Pass have been all the more entertaining. Here are some of the teams you should watch out for.

5. New York Knicks

It’s been ages since “Bing Bong” was an actual fun thing and not a phrase that opposing teams use after handing the New York Knicks an L. The Knicks have lost the magic that made them one of the most surprising stories last season.

Lately though, the Knicks have been fun to watch because of the return of Kemba Walker. Walker fell out of Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation and into a black hole for almost a month, disappearing completely. Then injuries to Derrick Rose and health and safety protocols for Immanuel Quickley forced Thibs to bring Kemba back on a rescue mission.

A more intense, animated, juiced-up, and active Kemba returned to the starting lineup to give the lost Knicks a bit of direction. His comeback resulted in big games, including an out-of-nowhere 44-point explosion against the Washington Wizards.

It also resulted in a big Christmas Day win against the Atlanta Hawks, where Kemba dropped a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists). Hey Coach Thibs, do you regret benching Kemba?

4. Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards went into a bit of a tailspin, losing seven games in an eight-game stretch. They’ve managed to steady the wheel and have won two straight against the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks.

It’s also been ages since the Wizards sat at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, but they’ve seemed to turn the corner. In their recent win against the Knicks, the Wizards managed to keep toe-to-toe with Kemba Walker, who was determined to never again feel the coldness of the bench. Despite Walker’s hot shooting, the Wizards were composed, neutralizing every Knick threat with big plays of their own.

With Bradley Beal and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out, watch the Wizards for the revenge of Kyle Kuzma, the unexpected outbursts from Corey Kispert, and the return of Spencer Dinwiddie.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans will always feel like a meal without the main course until Zion Williamson comes back. Yet somehow, the Pelicans have been able to churn out a couple of exciting wins.

New Orleans have won five of their last six games, doing it with the consistent “superstar-ness” of Brandon Ingram. BI’s also been getting help from Devonte’ Graham, who–despite his horrid shooting percentage–can turn it up when needed. Remember that halfcourt game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder? Graham did that. 

The Pelicans have also been getting numbers from Nickeil Alexander-Walker as of late, but with NAW entering health and safety protocols, look for Ingram and Graham to go crazier.

2. San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs have a dismal 13-18 win-loss record. This is unfathomable knowing that this is a team still being coached by Gregg Popovich, but it is what it is. The Spurs have yet to crack the code, despite a stellar season from Dejounte Murray.

Murray has somehow turned into a mini Nikola Jokic, a potential triple-double monster on any given night. Keldon Johnson, on the other hand, transformed himself into a potential double-double beast. Johnson has scored and rebounded in double figures in the Spurs’ last three games, two of which were huge wins versus the two Los Angeles teams.

Off the bench, the Spurs are getting quality minutes from the athletic freak Lonnie Walker IV. All these reasons are enough to keep a close League Pass watch on the Spurs. Once they get into any sort of groove, they might sneak in as a playoff team when all this is over. Pop knows.

1. Phoenix Suns

One of the best teams in the West. Winners of eight of the last 11 games. On a mission to get back into the finals. 

Every season has always been a race to who gets to be the healthiest at the finish line. This season, that’s truer than ever. The race is early, but the Phoenix Suns are dangerously close to running away with it. They’ve just been so good, so dangerous, so clean in their quest to play the best two-way basketball. If only they can solve the problem posed by the Golden State Warriors.

Save for a hamstring injury to Devin Booker and a brief leg injury to Deandre Ayton, the Suns’ core has been solid. Catch them on League Pass to witness what a complete, well-oiled machine in the 2020-2021 season looks like.