Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
I'm lucky enough to be able to afford cable, which come NBA season means that between TNT, ESPN, and NBA TV, I've got as much basketball available to watch as I can stomach. For those who aren't willing to cough up the money for cable, though, the NBA offers its League Pass packages online, and one of their packages qualifies as the "discount" version. Instead of every game, viewers pick five teams, and can watch only the games of those teams.
This raises an excellent discussion: which five, besides the Timberwolves, would you pick? I've done a lot of thinking about this, and here's my list - one that I admit has changed since the season started last week.
- Oklahoma City: The no-brainer choice, especially after the Thunder traded away James Harden. It'll be fascinating to see if Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can get the Thunder back to the top of the West.
- Houston: Speaking of Harden, he's scored 37 and 45 points in two games. Jeremy Lin has scored 12 and 21. (I suspect this pick might be regrettable by Christmastime - Kevin McHale is involved, remember - but right now, must-watch.)
- New York: I've got the Knicks finishing fourth in the East, and when the Knicks are good, they're worth the slot. There's a buzz that comes through the TV that makes MSG games fun to watch.
- Brooklyn: To see Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, sure, but also to see if Brooklyn will have that same MSG-like buzz, or whether the Nets will be to the Knicks as the Islanders are to the Rangers.
- Denver: To see what all the fuss is about. I keep reading about how strong Denver is, despite not having any "name" players besides Andre Iguodala. Is the hype worth it?
I suppose the list is notable for its omissions. No Miami, who would qualify as overhyped even if you never saw them on TV; no Lakers, of whom the same would be true, especially if they continue to lose every night. I can't handle the smugness that radiates from Boston, the Spurs would be better as a sleep aid, and the thing I like best about the Clippers is watching Vinny Del Negro screw up his coaching moves, which is fun but not fun enough to move them into the Top 5.
With the cable options, I don't have to choose. But you, the reader, may not have that luxury - and the NHL just canceled the Winter Classic, so hockey isn't coming back any time soon. Keep your options open, and start thinking about your list. It may come in handy.
*On with the links:
*Twins Daily wonders if the Twins didn't miss out by not taking the opportunity to hire Mike Redmond for their very own.
*Canis Hoopus looks at the Wolves roster, and discovers that the team seems to have a very strong prejudice - towards the tall.
*The Sports Economist looks at the differing ownership models in soccer around the world, and wonders what will prove the most successful.
*Here's your weekly reminder that soccer will never catch on in America, except it already has: NBC Sports paid $83 million a year for rights to the English Premier League, beginning in 2013-14, and will air all 380 games in some way - including possibly 18-20 of them on NBC. That'd be more regular-season games on broadcast TV than the NBA, the NHL, or major league baseball get, right now.
*And finally: Mmmm, that's good satire!