The playoffs aren't just a time for the teams to shine, what about the announcers! That's what we're here to talk about at least. With the NBA Playoffs now moving through the Conference Finals, we take a look at 5 personalities we'd like to see featured more prominently on ESPN and TNT's NBA coverage throughout the postseason and beyond…
1) Ian Eagle
Ian Eagle has cemented himself as one of the best play by play men in sports over the last couple years. From his work on the NFL on CBS to the NCAA Tournament to the NBA and even the Tennis Channel, Eagle has made the leap from underrated to top-rated. He calls a good game, is quick-witted, and has years of experience calling the NBA with the Nets. Turner has used him sparingly for its wide-ranging NBA Playoff coverage, but that should change beginning next year. Eagle's too good to be left on the sidelines and needs to be in the regular rotation of playoff announcers.
2) Dave Pasch
I've never thought of Dave Pasch as an NBA guy, what with his college football work and legendary college basketball pairing with Bill Walton. Nevertheless, Pasch got the opportunity to call some major NBA playoff games for ESPN this postseason and delivered. Like Eagle, he's a multi-talented play by play man who always brings a solid, energetic broadcast. Both networks are blessed with talented NBA play by play men (Albert, Harlan, Breen, Tirico) but it's time to put Eagle and Pasch in that same category.
3) Chris Webber
I've been a fan of Webber's work for quite some time and he showed again this postseason why TNT has a future star analyst in their midst. Whether it be in the studio or in the booth, Webber is engaging and personable as an analyst. He can break down X's and O's and fit seamlessly into the chemistry and laughs of Inside the NBA just as easily.
4) Bill Simmons
Perhaps it's a surprise to see this name round out our list, but has anyone grown more as a television personality in the last year than the Sports Guy? When Simmons first appeared on television he looked so nervous there was sweat pouring out of my television set. In his first year as a regular NBA studio analyst, he and Jalen Rose saved ESPN's fledging, rudderless NBA studio show. Granted, there's still work to be done (like finding a host), but ESPN would be wise to downsize and focus more on the man who actually wrote The Book of Basketball. Rose and Simmons have good chemistry from their litany of Grantland work and should be the centerpiece of a structured studio show moving forward, not the highlights of an amorphous blob.
5) Matt Winer
Which leads perfectly into our last selection. ESPN had a capable NBA studio host right there in Bristol and let him walk to Turner Sports in Matt Winer. Winer has blossomed at Turner as a studio host for TNT, NBA TV, and the NCAA Tournament, but one can't help but think he'll always be behind Ernie Johnson in the rotation. There's only one Inside the NBA after all and only room for one studio host there. Perhaps ESPN could acquire him back to host NBA Countdown for the rights to a baseball analyst to be named later.