Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons, Grantland's foremost hoops experts, collaborated Friday to rank all 30 NBA teams based on their watchability. The duo evaluated each team on five equally weighted criteria, among them "stylistic/systemic appeal" and "League Pass experience," assigning between 0 and 10 points for each category. The Orlando Magic, who finished with the NBA's worst record in 2012/13, came in 27th on this scale, earning a combined score of 39. Only the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Toronto Raptors had lower scores than Orlando.
Though Orlando ranks low on this list, Simmons and Lowe do have some level of affection for this team. "I kinda like the young and frisky vibe of the 2014 Magic," Simmons says. "It's rare when you can find a team that's tanking while also remaining entertaining/promising/likable (and yes, young and frisky)." For his part, Lowe likes the "Swiss Army Knife potential" of Maurice Harkless, but docks the Magic some League Pass points for dismissing Matt Guokas as their color analyst.
It's hard to contest the Magic's place on this list; the team is not competing for the playoffs and doesn't have a player with broad, must-watch appeal. Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, and Glen Davis are known commodities among fans, and those three veterans happened to lead the Magic in shooting possessions used per game in 2012/13 despite conversion rates below the league average.
The Magic do have a mix of veterans and younger players, and it's true that certain corners of Basketball Twitter admire the games of Nik Vučević, Tobias Harris, and Andrew Nicholson. However, their skills don't necessarily lend themselves to highlight reels. Unless the highlight reel features rebounding, in which case SB Nation colleague Drew Garrison has you covered.
Apart from their individual players, the Magic don't play an appealing style--they're about average in pace, dead last in transition baskets, and had only 14 alley-oop dunks all last year--nor do they excel in any particular area of the game. Ultimately, the Magic aren't a competitive team: only the Charlotte Bobcats were outscored by more points in 2012/13 than the Magic were. Unless you're a die-hard Orlando fan who's really invested in the team's future, it's hard to enjoy watching the Magic play.
Having said that much, Orlando does have some level of pluck, as Simmons alludes to. Even if the Magic aren't fun to watch in aggregate, they're easy to like as people, and the addition of noted prankster and all-around good egg Victor Oladipo only adds to that dynamic.
What, to you, makes a team watchable? When it comes to the Magic and watchability, is 27th too high, too low, or just right? Which players, in Orlando and throughout the league, do you most enjoy watching? Let's hear about those topics and more in the comments.