So we’re about two-thirds into the NBA season, and already for many of us (especially those of us in the Tri-State Area), there’s nothing really left to root for with our home teams until the lottery comes. However, in the age of enlightenment (and NBA League Pass), while we grit our teeth and remain supportive to our flailing franchises, we can also let our eye start to wander a little, in search of a team worth hitching our wagons to come post-season time. So as the playoff races tighten and shit starts to get real, the question arises: Who’s worth getting in the bunker with?
The qualities one looks for in a good bandwagon team are many. You want a team that’s familiar enough that you feel like you can kind of naturally slip into their fandom, but not one that’s not so stale that you feel that they can’t surprise you. You want a team that’s maybe a little up-and-coming so you can kind of grow with them, but not one that’s so raw that they don’t have a chance to even make a dent in the first round. You want a team that maybe offers a league vet or two a long-delayed shot at true glory, but definitely not one with so many has-beens that it starts to get depressing.
With all that in mind, I’ve taken the 18 teams remaining with a shot at making the playoffs (defined as within five games of the conference eighth seed for the sake of this article) and ranked them based on their potential for a rewarding bandwagon experience from this point forward. I’ve disqualified the Lakers and Cavaliers due to their being the overwhelming favorites to make the finals, since I can’t really endorse such shallow front-running (And because for wildly differing reasons, I find it utterly impossible to remain objective about either LeBron James or Kobe Bryant). But don’t worry–there’s still plenty of teams to choose from. Here they are, from 18 to 1–and be sure to let me know who you’re watching for these days as well: