The NBA schedule is out, and like always, the most interesting aspect is the league’s television assignments. It’s the best barometer of the NBA’s star power.
Oh, sure. The Knicks and Lakers always get a ton of air time, regardless of their prowess. And some small-market teams always get shorted, no matter how competitive they (Indiana, Memphis, San Antonio).
But that’s all part of it. The Thunder was treated very well again, thanks to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
I devised a point system. Four points for an ABC game, three points for a TNT game, two points for an ESPN game, one point for an NBATV game. Maybe that’s not the best way to gauge interest, but it’s a good way. ABC games are most high-profile, because there are so few. TNT games are next, because they’re on Thursday nights, when the rest of the NBA mostly takes off and because TNT games aren’t shown anywhere else. ESPN games still are shown on the local broadcast outlets. And NBATV games are blacked out in the local markets.
So here are the rankings of how much each franchise is sought by the networks:
1. New York 78: 6 on ABC, 9 on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 7 on NBATV. The Knickerbockers are a good team and a legit draw, but chalk up their No. 1 ranking strictly to a ratings grab.
2. Chicago 76: 5 on ABC, 9 on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 9 on NBATV. The return of Derrick Rose figures to keep Chicago interesting.
3. Miami 73: 6 on ABC, 9 on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 2 on NBATV. I have no idea why Miami wouldn’t be No. 1. Seems like even Knick fans would prefer to watch LeBron.
3. LA Lakers 73: 5 on ABC, 10 on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 3 on NBATV. We all want to watch a trainwreck.
5. OKC 72: 4 on ABC, 10 on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 6 on NBATV. Incredible respect for an NBA outpost.
6. LA Clippers 64: 2 on ABC, 10 on TNT, 9 on ESPN, 8 on NBATV. Decent numbers but should be higher; remember this the next time you think the Clips soon will pass the Lakers.
7. Houston 57: 1 on ABC, 9 on TNT, 10 on ESPN, 6 on NBATV. The Rockets are zooming up the list.
8. Brooklyn 51: 9 on TNT, 8 on ESPN, 8 on NBATV. I’m surprised the Netropolitans aren’t higher.
9. Golden State 50: 8 on TNT, 9 on ESPN, 8 on NBATV. I’m surprised the Warriors aren’t higher.
10. San Antonio 43: 1 on ABC, 5 on TNT, 9 on ESPN, 6 on NBATV. Typical lack of respect for the stately Spurs.
11. Denver 40: 6 on TNT, 7 on ESPN, 8 on NBATV. Why are these Nuggets on so much? More TNT games than San Antone?
12. Indiana 29: 2 on TNT, 8 on ESPN, 7 on NBATV. Nonsense. Total nonsense that the Pacers aren’t on more.
13. Dallas 25: 3 on TNT, 5 on ESPN, 6 on NBATV. How the mighty have fallen.
14. Portland 21: 4 on TNT, 2 on ESPN, 5 on NBATV. Strange that the Blazers have more TNT games than ESPN games.
15. Memphis 20: 1 on TNT, 5 on ESPN, 7 on NBATV. OKC is on the big networks four times as often as are the Grizzlies. That goes to star power.
16. Minnesota 18: 5 on ESPN, 8 on NBATV. Timberwolves should be entertaining.
17. Cleveland 14: 1 on TNT, 3 on ESPN, 5 on NBATV. Cavs are up and coming but aren’t too far up yet.
18. Boston 9: 3 on ESPN, 3 on NBATV. What? The green jerseys alone aren’t worth any more than this?
18. New Orleans 9: 3 on ESPN, 3 on NBATV. The Pelicans might be entertaining.
20. Atlanta 8: 3 on ESPN, 2 on NBATV. Good team, playing in anonymity live and on the air waves.
20. Utah 8: 3 on ESPN, 2 on NBATV. Jazz not much of a draw anymore.
22. Sacramento 7: 1 on ESPN, 5 on NBATV. Staying in SacTown, staying in irrelevance.
22. Washington 7: 1 on ESPN, 5 on NBATV. Underseen. The Wizards could be entertaining.
24. Milwaukee 6: 1 on ESPN, 4 on NBATV. You’re flipping around on a January Tuesday night, you find a Bucks game on NBATV and you say, no thanks.
24. Phoenix 6: 1 on ESPN, 4 on NBATV. There was a time when the Suns were must-see TV.
26. Detroit 5: 2 on ESPN, 1 on NBATV. The Pistons might actually be worth watching.
26. Orlando 5: 1 on ESPN, 3 on NBATV. The Magic still won’t be worth watching, but they’re getting better.
28. Philadelphia 2: 2 on NBATV. Starting over doesn’t entice viewers.
28. Charlotte 2: 2 on NBATV. The Bobcats stink.
30. Toronto 1: 1 on NBATV. April 5, at home against Milwaukee. Your one and only chance to see the Raptors.