NBA NATIONAL TV GAMES CHART
- Over/Unders via Westgate LV and current as of Aug. 12.
- The adjusted column weighs one NBATV appearance as 0.5 national TV appearances — and honestly I feel that’s generous — because let’s be real: NBATV games are a little bit like participation trophies. Everybody gets one and nobody (read: almost nobody) actually cares about them.
- Ties in adjusted appearances went to the team with fewer NBATV games. Ties in adjusted appearances with the same number of NBATV matchups favored TNT broadcasts over ESPN due to personal preference. As George Carlin said, these are my rules, I make them up.
Some preliminary notes before diving into the rankings:
- The Lakers and Warriors remain 1-2 for the second straight season. And Golden State actually gained two additional appearances compared to last year.
- The Clippers went from having 15 national slots (12 on NBATV) in 2018-19 to 38 in 2019-20, which is the largest leap in the league.
- Despite swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, the Rockets received one less TV matchup than last year.
- The 76ers held firm as the fifth-most featured franchise but their total TV appearances dipped by three.
- Swapping Kyrie Irving and Al Horford for Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter didn’t stop the powers that be from showcasing the Celtics, as Boston boasts 34 national bouts versus 39 last year.
- The Bucks increased their exposure by 10 games, from 24 to 34.
- The Trail Blazers upped their TV time by 11 tilts, from 20 to 31.
- The Pelicans added 10 national TV contests, from 20 to 30.
- The Nuggets earned six extra TV games, going from 18 to 24.
- The juiced up Jazz saw a sizable spike in national coverage, skyrocketing from 17 to 25, albeit with nine of those on NBATV.
- The Mavericks more than doubled their showings, from nine to 20. Along with the Pelicans (ninth), the Mavericks (12th) are one of two projected lottery teams inside the top-17 in TV appearances.
- The Nets were relegated to NBATV for five of six national TV games last year and increased their allotment by 14 matchups heading into 2019-20. Expect another massive surge next season.
- The Raptors won the championship, but Kawhi Leonard leaving resulted in eight fewer national TV appearances (from 27 to 19).
- From there things really drop off fast, with the Pacers getting 12 appearances this year compared to 17 last year.
- The decision makers seriously soured on the Spurs, as San Antonio has less than half as many TV games as last year (25 to 12).
- Minus one for Miami (11 to 10) despite the Jimmy Butler signing.
- The Thunder are cable’s biggest free-fallers, from 36 to 12.
- Trae Young’s Hawks went from six to nine TV appearances, but ESPN/ABC isn’t airing a single one of their games.
- Thankfully, the Knicks saw their total cut in half, from 12 to six.
- The Kings added three contests (from five to eight) but for the second straight year only one of those games isn’t on NBATV.
- The Pistons plummeted by four appearances, from 10 to six.
- The Suns lost one matchup, sliding from eight to seven.
- The Timberwolves dropped a dozen TV duels, from 18 to six.
- Among the 16 playoff teams from 2018-19, the Magic maintain the least national TV coverage, and it didn’t increase at all from last year’s total of six. Furthermore, Orlando’s adjusted total this season (3.5) is less than half of the next least featured team that’s projected to make the playoffs (Miami Heat – 8) in 2019-20.
- The Grizzlies also saw no movement, with four games once again.
- The Bulls lost two games compared to last year, from six to four.
- The Wizards went down the drain, from 17 to four.
- The Hornets and Cavaliers have three games apiece, this compared to four and seven respectively last season.
NBA LEAGUE PASS LOTTERY RANKINGS
14. Washington Wizards: Equal parts bleh and barf. Besides Bradley Beal’s brilliance, there’s little reason to tune into the Wiz this season. And there’s no guarantee he’ll be on the roster for the duration, or even the majority, of the campaign. For the sake of the star and the squad, hopefully Washington can find a fair deal for Beal that helps the Wizards restock the cupboard with assets and puts B-squared in a place where he can actually compete.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Say what you will about Terry Rozier’s contract, at least he seems like a good theoretical fit alongside young prospects such as Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington and Malik Monk. Moreover, the pressure to sneak into the bottom of the playoff pool is gone, so the low expectations could allow Charlotte fans to kick back and enjoy tracking Tankathon.com. Still, I don’t anticipate the Hornets being much fun to watch in 2019-20. Maybe guest columns from TLM co-founders James Plowright and/or Nick Denning are on the horizon though. Fingers crossed.
12. Cleveland Cavaliers: Depending on how Darius Garland fares and whether guys like Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman continue to progress, this ranking could prove to be too low. However, given Kevin Love’s inconsistent availability (22 games last season), this seems more than fair to the Cavaliers.
11. Detroit Pistons: Perhaps I should fully appreciate Blake Griffin while he’s still in his prime. But I can’t feign affection for these Pistons, who figure to fight for one of the final playoff spots in the East. If they do reach the postseason once again, hopefully Griffin still has some gas left in his tank.
10. New York Knicks: Since I shamed the schedule-makers in last summer’s edition of this article, it’s only right that I congratulate the committee for (finally) getting this right. Should the Knicks have more appearances than the Kings and Timberwolves? Heck no. But at least New York slid from 18th to 20th overall, saw their total cut in half and lost its status as the showdown to skip in the annual five-tilt Christmas slate. Even though these are technically my rankings, I’m not sure I agree with this. Frankly, I might be giving this team too much love based solely on the reduction in national coverage.
9. Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker complaining about being double-teamed in pickup games — and chicken sandwich preferences — have been dominating the discourse on basketball Twitter these days. Welcome to silly season! The Suns should be more watchable this year, with Mikal Bridges, Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre shoring up the defense to some extent. The second coming of Boris Diaw (Dario Saric) was also a solid offseason addition. Regardless, as your resident grump, I couldn’t convince myself to move this team up any farther. Booker’s behavior simply doesn’t inspire confidence.
8. Chicago Bulls: Adding adults-in-the-room (Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky) this summer should help stabilize Chicago heading into this season. Combined with the acquisition of Otto Porter prior to February’s trade deadline, the Bulls are on a winning steak of sorts. Or at least they are headed in the right direction. A breakout from Wendell Carter is in the cards. And Zach LaVine looked extremely comfortable playing alongside Porter late last season, as he drastically improved his assist-to-turnover ratio. A year ago it seemed as though Chicago was destined to be a dumpster fire for the foreseeable future, but now the clouds are clearing and the sun is shining. Don’t be surprised if the Bulls end up nabbing one of the final playoff spots.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: It’s a bit absurd that Karl-Anthony Towns will appear on the major networks only once all season. Losing Jimmy Butler was obviously going to result in a substantial decrease in coverage for a small market club like Minnesota, but the Timberwolves went 12-10 during Robert Covington’s 22 games. Covington’s injury, which prevented him from appearing in a single game here in the new calendar year, kept Minnesota from competing for a playoff spot last season. Whether or not the Wolves finish with a better record than last year (36-46), coach Ryan Saunders is considering shifting Covington to power forward and Towns to center. If that comes to fruition, watching KAT operate in space will be so much more pleasant than the twin tower look we’ve seen for most of the last few years.
6. Atlanta Hawks: This is the ranking I feel most conflicted about thus far. I’m definitely excited to see sophomore year Trae Young, and I think the Hawks are as good of a deep sleeper as any (outside of Chicago) to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. With that being said, the moves around the margins were less than impressive in my opinion. Doing Kent Bazemore a solid is commendable and Evan Turner doing Evan Turner things off the bench will be cool. But losing Dewayne Dedmon will likely hurt and adding Jabari Parker probably won’t help. It almost feels like GM Travis Schlenk is trying to ensure that he gets at least one more bite at the draft lottery apple.
5. Sacramento Kings: Shafted. Only one non-NBATV game for one of last season’s most enjoyable watches is a massive oversight by the coverage committee. This helped solidify Sacramento’s top-five ranking, along with the fact that playing in the Western Conference means more nights than not the Kings will be matched up with another playoff hopeful with legit talent. Nothing about Sacramento’s offseason necessarily screams success, but they have a deep roster that’s going to get up and down the court and compete.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: This ranking hinges on Chris Paul staying in OKC for the entire campaign, as it could be a throwback season for the original Point God. A backcourt of the 34-year-old Paul and the 21-year-old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is sure to be exciting. Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams is a great fit in the frontcourt. And maybe, just maybe, Andre Roberson will stay healthy and/or Terrance Ferguson will take the next step. If Paul is still on the squad beyond the trade deadline and stays relatively healthy over the course of the season, it shouldn’t be viewed as a surprise if the Thunder crash the playoff party out West.
3. Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis might be a year away from being two years away from truly contending for a playoff spot. But who cares? With the young trio of Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke in tow, the next era of Grit N’ Grind is officially underway. It’s going to be fascinating to watch this Grizzlies team develop and improve over the next few seasons.
2. Dallas Mavericks: Mavs-mania is spreading rapidly and showing no signs of slowing down. Led by reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic, who has already transformed his body after looking like he was out of shape last season, Dallas is a decent sleeper to make the playoffs if all goes well with Kristaps Porzingis. Moreover, snagging Seth Curry was a steal, and Delon Wright was an underrated addition as well for a team that badly needed backcourt help, particularly on defense. Rick Carlisle has relied on multi-guard lineups galore over the last few years, a trend that’s likely to continue going forward — and one that typically ignites the offense.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: Last season the Pelicans were coming off a first round playoff sweep of Portland and somehow received 10 less TV games than this year. So yeah, it’s safe to say that Zion Williamson is already a bigger draw than Anthony Davis ever was in the Big Easy. Some of that is based on Zion’s larger-than-life personality and immense social media following, but the league wouldn’t place the Pelicans front and center, with massive matchups on opening night (Toronto), Christmas (Denver) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Memphis) if Williamson didn’t have game. Led by two of the NBA’s most underrated stars (Jrue Holiday and Derrick Favors), one of the best three-point shooters (J.J. Redick) and a plethora of young talented players (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, etc.), New Orleans should be a joy to watch, assuming you’re not part of the Slowsky family.
“Why don’t you like fun?”