It’s become part of the modern NBA lexicon. Listen to enough basketball podcasts, and you’ll hear the term at least once a week. It usually goes like this: “I was watching the Kings play the Pistons last night, and man did I love how 21-year-old Harry Giles matched up against 30-year-old journeyman Jon Leuer. You wanna talk about an intriguing team, it’s Sacramento. They’re a real League Pass Team.” When you hear that, it usually means the person flipped the game on momentarily until a better matchup came on, then the guy flipped back to it at the end of the game and watched the rest of the it via an extended highlights package. Then there are guys who could conceivably watch the game and break down film, because it’s what they do. So when ESPN’s Zach Lowe announced the Sixers as the #1 NBA League Pass team -albeit with the Bill Simmons model in mind- it intrigued me, because Lowe not only knows his stuff, but also named them the Top NBA League Pass Team a year ago.
Per Lowe, the criteria for determining each NBA team’s League Pass rating includes giving a point value from 1-10 on the following five criteria:
- Zeitgeist: That is to say, whether or not casual fans or the layman cares about the team.
- Highlight potential: Is there a player on the team who can, to quote Marc Zumoff, turn garbage into gold?
- Syle: An aesthetically-pleasing team game vs. iso-ball.
- League Pass minutiae: This includes the team’s uniforms, various court interfaces, and announce team.
- Unintentional comedy: This can include variables that one could deem as a curiosity, like Markelle Fultz’s jumpshot.
Why the Sixers are #1
Lowe declared the Sixers as being, “weird, big, goofy and loaded with personality.” He also noted that despite the lack of having Markelle Fultz’s looming jump shot question hovering over the team, they’re still the most intriguing squad. He went on to ponder:
How will their Gigantor starting five of Josh Richardson, Simmons, Tobias Harris, Horford and Joel Embiid play on each end? Can Simmons and Embiid find a pace that suits each of them? Where is Simmons standing and moving when he doesn’t have the ball — especially when Embiid is posting up? Will we see more Simmons-Embiid pick-and-rolls?
His focus on the starting five’s size mirrors previous comments he made on his podcast. Lowe also questioned whether the Sixers have three guys who could place on the NBA’s two All-Defensive team.
Lowe also believes that -aside from Ben Simmons’ possible willingness to shoot the ball- Joel Embiid is the biggest reason the Sixers take the top spot. He said:
Embiid is the best trash-talker in the league, and I don’t believe for one second he will follow through on his vow to stop. That would be a travesty. He actually hurts people’s feelings. The Pistons should contemplate just benching Andre Drummond against Philadelphia — that’s how badly Embiid owns him. Karl-Anthony Towns started trying on defense because Embiid humiliated him on Instagram. Hassan Whiteside is probably glad to be in the opposite conference.
So there you have it, basketball fans. Your team, your town, your Philadelphia 76ers are once again Zach Lowe’s “Top NBA League Pass Team.”