I was messing around in the Liberty Ballers Slack channel and suggested a power ranking for the new season based on how much fun each month will be, which was when resident stat-guy/genius/literally-does-everything Andrew Patton told me he’d already devised a ranking of what NBA teams were the most fun last year based on the following criteria:
- Field goal percentage
- Fast break points
- Monster performances
Andrew’s rankings also take points off for:
- Free throw attempts
and uses the following things in some way:
- Shot distribution
The formula he uses is confusing and involves knowledge of some programming stuff that I know nothing about, because my entire knowledge of coding consists of how to make a basic, one-page website circa 2005.
Andrew’s rankings and criteria were really helpful, but they were also for last year, and teams have changed a lot heading into this year, so they aren’t going to be the only factor in determining how I rank things.
But using a combination of Andrew’s rankings, my own thoughts about how much fun teams will be next year, and a fun-boost for games that are most relevant for the Sixers, I’ve got a month-by-month breakdown of which months will be the most fun this year. If you only watch one month of regular season 76ers action, which should it be? Let’s get started.
Total Fun Points: 502.89716, Average Fun Points: 71.84345143
While April has the third-highest average fun ranking per Andrew’s numbers, I’ve got my reasons for docking it points and giving it the final spot.
First, the Washington Wizards had too high of a fun ranking last year. The Wizards will not be fun this upcoming season, which is an important outside factor.
April only has seven games, but in my personal “Am I going to want to watch this opponent play basketball?” rankings, only two games are included: a Tuesday night TNT game against Milwaukee, and Zion Williamson coming to Philly.
But the final few games of the season are usually a boring slog. We just want the playoffs to get here. Opponents who are out of contention are resting their best players. There’s a four-games-in-six-days thing to worry about at the end of the year that includes a back-to-back. Heck, will Zion even play at that point if the Pelicans are out of the playoff race?
Erase April from this schedule and just get me ready for Philly to host a playoff series in...well, in April, but postseason games don’t count towards these rankings.
Total Fun Points: 286.63238, Average Fun Points: 71.658095
Yeah, the season starting is fun, the games have some real intrigue — the Kemba Walker Celtics, the first of an infinite number of games against the Pistons, a visit to Trae Young’s Hawks, and a Robert Covington sighting — but there are just four games in October. I’d rather watch these games than the April games, though, and the Hawks have a good chance to lead the league in fun this year, so it’s not a total loss. And the first game of any NBA season gets double or triple the fun points just because.
Total Fun Points: 783.22592, Average Fun Points: 71.20235636
February had the lowest average fun rating, and while there are good reasons to think it’ll be better than expected — the Clippers’ fun rating last year was among the league’s lowest and now they have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard — the fact that there are just 11 games and Memphis, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York are four of them is a mark against it.
There’s a Miami game, but Miami probably won’t be a very fun team this year, and the “Jimmy Butler is back” stuff loses points when the game is on the road and it’s the fourth meeting between the teams.
Total Fun Points: 1140.07457, Average Fun Points: 71.25466063
November brings us Jimmy Butler returning to Philadelphia, which should be fun. It includes visits to Denver and Utah, a pair of teams that should be fun this year.
November also gets an “it’s still early and we aren’t tired of basketball yet” boost, which might be the only reason I have it above February. (That’s a lie: Having the All-Star Break in February makes Sixers basketball less fun because there’s a big gap with no Sixers basketball.)
Because, uhh, November has some boring games.
Here’s a stretch of games that I’d definitely consider to all be negative or neutral from a fun point of view: Charlotte, Cleveland, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, New York, San Antonio. None of those teams are must-watch League Pass teams for me. A post-Kemba Hornets team? Bored. Whatever Cleveland is? ZZZ. Orlando and San Antonio, who are the most boring playoff contenders in the league this year? This new version of the Thunder? THE KNICKS?
Look, I’m already regretting putting November this high, but it was hard to put the significantly shorter months ahead of it since the total amount of fun you’ll experience will be higher in November, even if things are more boring on a per-game basis.
Total Fun Points: 1079.7323, Average Fun Points: 71.9821533
This is where things finally get difficult when it comes to projecting fun.
March ranked second in average fun based on last year’s ratings, but there were just enough positive changes in another month to knock it down the rankings. That’s not to say that March is bad by any means. It’s clearly more fun than whatever November has going on.
Positives for March include opening with a West Coast road trip to play the Clippers, Lakers, Kings, and Warriors. The two Los Angeles teams are going to be undeniably fun. The Kings should be fun because De’Aaron Fox would be high up on my Individual Fun Scale if it existed. And the Warriors should have Klay Thompson back, making it the more fun of the two games between the teams.
But Detroit, Indiana, Washington isn’t the most fun stretch of games. No games against Boston, Milwaukee, or Brooklyn. There are games with Atlanta, Phoenix, and Houston — the Rockets ranked last in last year’s fun rankings but should do better because of the Westbrook/Harden Chaos Factor — but overall there’s just not as much here.
Total Fun Points: 932.7182, Average Fun Points: 71.74755385
January is also lighter on the boring games.
There’s a game against the Thunder, but it’s sandwiched between Houston and Boston. There are consecutive home games against the Mavericks and the Pacers, two teams whose 2019-20 funness could go either way, so this is a good chance to mitigate the risk of one game being boring by having them paired.
The only really bad moment is a back-to-back with Chicago and New York. You should plan your date nights for that weekend.
Total Fun Points: 1158.59239, Average Fun Points: 72.41202438
And the winner is December, which has both the highest total and average fun rating when looking at last year’s numbers. It also has the highest total in my adjusted rankings.
December actually has a few more clunkers than January, but it also has three games more than January does and it has some big highs.
The biggest is a Christmas game against the Bucks. Christmas games are instantly more fun than any other games because #tradition or whatever.
There’s also what should be the most fun stretch of the season: Toronto, Denver, Boston, New Orleans, Brooklyn, Miami, Dallas.
Toronto lost Kawhi Leonard, but this will be the first time the Raptors return to Philadelphia since last year’s playoff series, so the boos are going to be loud and an engaged crowd is always a huge fun factor. Then, Denver, who will be the second-most fun team this year. Then Boston, which has obvious reasons for being fun, and then ZION. The first Pelicans game of the year is in this stretch, and if Zion can play like ZION as a rookie, New Orleans is my pick for most fun team of this upcoming season. (JJ Redick is also involved in this game.)
Then, Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving, followed by the Heat and Jimmy Butler, followed by the Mavericks and Luka Doncic. Dallas, as mentioned earlier, has some volatility, but they should be a fun team.
Two games against the Wizards is a huge mark against December, but a Christmas game, plus that extremely fun stretch, plus having 16 games makes it claim first place in my monthly schedule fun rankings.