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ESPN’s League Pass rankings: Suns are NBA’s 24th most-watchable team

Devin Booker #1 and Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks at Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 17, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Forget Power Rankings or playoff predictions. How do the Phoenix Suns fare if you ranked NBA teams based on TV watchability?

League Pass, the NBA’s 30-team television service that lets viewers see all the game broadcasts each night, is the namesake of Zach Lowe’s annual ranking on ESPN that orders teams based on a handful of categories, ultimately figuring out which ones are most desirable to invest time into watching.

The Suns were 24th on Lowe’s ranking.

It’s OK to admit you’re more excited to track the Devin Booker-Deandre Ayton tandem than to watch the polished Spurs. Youth intrigues. If Booker and Ayton amplify each other as pick-and-roll partners and commit to some of the grimy stuff on defense, Phoenix has a real future. If they don’t, the Suns are aimless.

Booker’s critics are right about two things: He has been awful on the defense, and his silky stroke belies his middling 3-point shooting — 35% career, 32.6% last season. But some critics are burying him too soon as an inefficient gunner, and underselling what he has already achieved.

Lowe went on to examine more about Booker’s game and said that playing with Ricky Rubio could give him a boost. He also dove into the play of Deandre Ayton.

Free throws are boring, and the Suns hack everyone; they have ranked 23rd or worse in opponent free throw rate in five straight seasons.

Kelly Oubre Jr. is always doing something nutty — including falling asleep as his man cuts behind him for a dunk.

Eddie Johnson goes hard at everyone on commentary. Thumbs up to [the Suns’] minimalist orange jersey with the flaming ball — one of only a few jerseys in league history to include no wordmark reference to the team’s name or city on the front.

Lowe wrote that teams are ranked on a scale of 1-10 in each category and then are ranked accordingly. The categories are zeitgeist (do people care about the team?), highlight potential (is there a player or players that bring a “wow” factor), style (the team’s viewer-friendliness in how it plays and scores points), League Pass minutiae (uniforms, court design, announcers, etc.), and unintentional comedy (self-explanatory).

The Suns’ got 23 total points in the ranking. The top team isn’t yet known, since the Suns were part of only Part 1 of the rankings release. However, the defending champion Toronto Raptors, now sans Kawhi Leonard, were 16th.

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