Players worthy of League Pass alerts

Published April 7, 2021, 12:00 PMMiguel Flores

If there are customized notifications for must-watch NBA players, who would be on your #LeaguePassAlert list?

Life in 2021 isn’t complete without a smartphone. Having a smartphone means being inundated with push notifications from the dozens of apps on your phone. Some notifications are pretty useful, but most apps are just trying to bait us into spending a few minutes on them.

The NBA app – more specifically League Pass – is genuinely one of the best innovations the league has ever created. So here’s a free idea for the League Pass developers: give us customizable notifications for specific instances in a game. Sure, #LeaguePassAlert is already a thing on Twitter for close games, but there's so much potential in this. There are Twitter accounts dedicated to tweeting videos of every home run hit in Major League Baseball. That could be a thing for dunks or 3s from specific players.

The most fun use for this could be notifications for when certain players come into the game. These players don't start or play a ton of minutes, but they are so much fun to watch whenever they play. The league does great in marketing its stars. Why not do a little extra for the niche players certain fanbases can't get enough of?

The following are some of the best notification-worthy players in the league. They don't need a lot of time to entertain so they are perfect for quick peeks into League Pass. If you’re a diehard fan of any of these teams, you’re already on an if-you-know-you-know basis with these players.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

The oldest of the three Antetokounmpos in the league, Thanasis does not get as much shine as his younger brother, two-time MVP Giannis. What he lacks in skill though, Thanasis makes up for with sheer energy.

Bucks fans must have known Thanasis was going to be fun when he threw this down for his first points as a Buck.

Averaging just 9.8 minutes per game this season, Thanasis mostly runs hot and cold. A good local basketball comparison for him is Noah Webb – his frenetic energy may lead to something good or bad for the team, depending on the game. He doesn’t get a lot of points or rebounds, but damn it, he'll die for each loose ball.

Still, watching Thanasis bounce around the court with the randomness of a pinball machine is an experience all fans should have at least once.

Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz

The Yin to Thanasis' Yang, you probably know Jingles as the Math teacher-looking guy that locked up your favorite player in the playoffs.

Ingles isn't conventionally exciting. He doesn’t do a lot of the things that get clipped and posted on Twitter, which is all the more reason to watch him closely. When he dunks, people scream witchcraft. He's fun in the relaxing sense. He's ASMR, but instead of sounds from the beach or the city, Ingles relaxes you with smooth passing and sound decision-making.

The Australian forward comes off the league-best Jazz bench as one of its main passers and shooters. Once a staple in the Jazz starting lineup, Ingles doesn't even close games anymore for the Jazz. But he still makes the most out of his 26.5 minutes per game. He averages 12.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. The most astounding stat: he's hit 50 percent of his 3s this season.

In a Jazz system that hunts for 3s through a thicket of screens and passes, Ingles is the Jazz's intrepid Australian navigator. He keeps the ball moving and barely ever makes mistakes on defense. 

If you don't love him for his game, you'll love him for his and his family's dedication to autism awareness.

Terance Mann, Los Angeles Clippers

Some of the best stories in the league are of players being too good to not play. Terance Mann has given Ty Lue no choice but to play him.

The Los Angeles Clippers have not been spared by the injury bug this season with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing chunks of the season along with the Clippers' role players. Mann has stepped up when the Clippers were missing a starter, proving that he deserves his minutes.

Unlike the first two players on this list, Mann is still young at 23 years old and only in his sophomore year. Barely cracking the rotation to start the season, Mann is now averaging 24.3 minutes per game since March. ESPN writer Zach Lowe wrote about Mann's unenviable early role with the Clippers as the player they put in during defensive possessions right before halftime. Whenever he has the ball with seconds before the clock expires, he is tasked to heave halfcourt shots.

Now, Mann’s energy has been key in keeping the Clippers in the top three in the West. He's versatile defensively, able to stay in front of quicker point guards or body up against bigger forwards. He's still raw offensively and defenses still feel comfortable leaving him open from deep. But he's quickly learning to make plays and use his speed.

The Clippers leveraged a lot of their young assets to form the George-Leonard tandem. They did well finding Mann late in the 2019 Draft.

Facundo Campazzo, Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic is Denver’s best passer only because Facu Campazzo doesn't play a lot of minutes.

Campazzo only plays around 18 minutes per game, but he's good for a highlight reel pass every game.

Denver’s offense features plenty of cuts and misdirection. The addition of the veteran from Argentina to this lineup is so seamless. Campazzo might be the best passer out of Argentina since Manu Ginobili.

He also holds his own on defense. Turning your back against him is like a death sentence.

The Nuggets already played a fast-paced, highlight-heavy style before this season. Campazzo is there to make sure the fun never stops, even with the starters on the bench.

T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers

Speaking of steals, no one punks professional basketball players like T.J. McConell.

McConell is adept at almost every type of steal, but no act of thievery is more malicious than when he snatches balls from what should be routine inbound plays.

There isn't a moment on defense when McConell isn’t lurking for a steal. He’s also a great traditional point guard that’s always looking for the next extra pass.

Just try to watch a Pacers game and wait for the moment when McConell completely embarrasses lifelong basketball players with sheer hustle and awareness.