Welcome to part two of our New Year’s Special Power Rankings. These are the weakest basketball teams across the association, ranked from best to worst.
- Portland Trailblazers (14-20): Portland’s rise is tied to that of C.J. McCollum. His drastic improvement is noticeable, and he is executing his mid-range game perfectly. In fact, his only contender is Steph Curry.
Figure 1 Stats via NBA.com/stats
- Memphis Grizzlies (18-16): Memphis is simply boring. They rank in the bottom half of both offensive and defensive efficiency, per basketball-reference. The benching of Zach Randolph has not seemed to help much, and Memphis is incapable of defeating the best teams in the league.
- Detroit Pistons (17-15): Detroit is playing “Stan Van Gundy Ball” and are doing so well. They have penetrating guards, an unstoppable force in the center of the court, and a number of three point shooters. Ideally one would hope to see Drummond become a more efficient passer, which is the area of his post game that needs the most work.
- Utah Jazz (13-17): The Jazz, somehow without Rudy Gobert, are maintaining a strong defensive identity and holding on to the eighth seed in the West. Nonetheless, they have lost close games because they lack a dominant scoring presence on offense.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (12-20): The Wolves have an interesting team. They are incredibily inefficient, excellent on defense, and one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Nonetheless, with Kevin Garnett’s leadership, somehow this team is only two games out of the eighth seed in the West. More importantly, Andrew Wiggins is becoming quite the isolation scorer:
Figure 2 Stats via Synergy
- Washington Wizards (14-16): The Wizards have been underwhelming at best. They are incredibly inefficient and overly-reliant on Marcin Gortat’s post-up ability. As it stands right now, the Wizards do not look attractive to a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber.
- New York Knicks (15-18): The Knicks are nowhere near elite, however, their improvement this season is noteworthy. Kristaps Porzingis looks like a more physical Dirk Nowitzki. But more importantly, they are beginning to run the triangle offense at an effective rate. In fact, per SportVU player tracking, they lead the league in passes made this season.
- Sacramento Kings (12-20): As we reported earlier this week, the Kings have a lot of potential. Nonetheless, George Karl’s inconsistent coaching will be problematic for the Kings. Hopefully Willie Cauley-Stein can heal and improve at quick rate. If so, the Kings could attempt a playoff push.
- Milwaukee Bucks (12-21): Jason Kidd is a fantastic coach. The Milwaukee Bucks have a lot of talent. Moreover, the Bucks have beaten both the Cavs and the Warriors. However, they are incredibly inconsistent.
- Denver (12-21): Out of players that play at least twenty-five minutes per game, Will Barton has the highest eFG% on drives to the lane. Outside of Barton and rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, though, the Nuggets are severely limited in regards to talent.
- Brooklyn Nets(9-23): The Nets do not have a lot of talent; but, Bojan Bogdanovic, Shane Larkin, and Brook Lopez tend to make games entertaining when they are playing. Moreover, rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is currently injured, but has also show flashes of potential. Overall, they are not boring to watch, but they also won’t win a lot.
- New Orleans Pelicans (10-21): Honestly, the only reason they are ranked this high is because of Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson. As we wrote earlier, they are a team with a lot of talent, but a terrible system.
- Phoenix Suns (12-22): The Suns are pretty awful. More importantly, things are going to get much worse with the news that Eric Bledsoe is injured and out for the season as he had the highest usage percentage on the team, per NBA.com’s stats page.
- Los Angeles Lakers (6-27): Overall, this is the Kobe-show. Nonetheless, Jordan Clarkson continues to be promising as a replacement guard. More importantly, Julius Randle has the physical talent to be elite. His biggest issue is confidence when shooting. When we look at the distance of his closest defender and his eFG%, he actually shoots worse when wide open than when he is in tight coverage. This should change with time, though.
Figure 3 via NBA.com Stats Page
30. Philadelphia 76ers (3-31): Not much to say about these guys. They are terrible. Starting Noel over Okafor has worked wonders offensively, however, seems puzzling given the high pick they used on t