Here is the first part of our “New Years Power Rankings.” Introducing the best fifteen teams of the NBA season.
- San Antonio Spurs (28-6): The Spurs have quietly been one of the best, if not the best team this season. That’s important because their motion, midrange offense makes them a matchup nightmare for any team, even the Warriors. Moreover, Adam Fromal recently stated that this Spurs team is just as good statistically as the 2015-16 Warriors and possible the 72-10 Bulls.
- Golden State Warriors (29-2): The Warriors recently overtook the Spurs in our metric. Their combination of offensive and defensive efficiency has resulted in them having the best season of any team in the NBA.
Figure 1 Stats via NBA.Com
- Cleveland Cavaliers (21-9): The Cavaliers, while having the sixth ranked offense and fifth ranked defense in terms of Net Rating, have been playing inconsistently at best. Regardless, with the recovering Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, one has to expect that the team will improve. Moreover, if the team can figure out their offense and Timofey Mozgov’s struggles, they will be amongst the NBA’s elite.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (22-10): Oklahoma City have an interesting system that revolves around isolation offense and lock-down interior defense. They have been doomed this year by a weak guard rotation. Ideally the arrival of Cameron Payne will change the Thunder’s Fortune. Right now, they are currently not good enough to beat San Antonio or Golden State in the West.
- Los Angeles Clippers (20-13): If Doc Rivers could figure out rotations this team could make noise in the West. As it stands right now, though, the word “inconsistent” describes the Clippers season.
- Atlanta Hawks (21-13): The Hawks will continue to be a good team in today’s NBA. They are Spurs-light and beat teams with their advanced motion-offense. Nonetheless, it is tough to imagine the Hawks having the necessary firepower to beat a team like the Cavaliers. Moreover, per Synergy, they are creating more wide-open shots than any team in the NBA, but only shooting 41.6% on those opportunities. Thus the team is simply not as good as their system.
- Miami Heat (18-13): The Heat have had one of the best defensive systems in the NBA this season. They pride themselves on forcing their opponents to take low-quality mid-range shots.
Figure 2 Stats via Synergy
- Dallas Mavericks (19-13): Rick Carlisle always coaches his teams to run efficient plays based on their talent. This Dallas team is no different. Zaza Pachulia has his highest Player Efficiency Rating of his career (17.8) and Dallas looks like a team that may advance one round come playoff time.
- Indiana Pacers (18-13): Paul George truly has returned to pre-injury levels. In fact, if anything he may have improved. Nonetheless, a recent losing skid combined with mediocre defense has hurt the Pacers. They’ll need to learn to adapt to their fastest pace since 2010 if they hope to compete in today’s NBA.
- Toronto Raptors (20-13): The Raptors are one of those interesting teams where nobody gives them a chance, but, nobody wants to face them either. The re-birth of Cory Joseph as an all-star talent, combined with perhaps the best Point Guard in the NBA this year – Kyle Lowry – has resulted in Toronto making noise in the Eastern Conference.
- Houston Rockets (16-17): The Rockets are finally starting to turn it around, albeit inconsistently. Dwight Howard and James Harden are beginning to look like the stars of last season, and this has resulted in Houston getting a big-time win over San Antonio. Moreover, Harden is becoming the dominant scorer off of drives to the paint he was last season:
Figure 3 Stats via NBA.Com
- Orlando Magic (19-13): Orlando has yet to beat a truly dominant team. Nonetheless, their defensive poise is clear and Oladipo’s benching has worked wonders. This past week, though, they have struggled on the defensive end and it has cost them.
- Chicago Bulls (18-12): Chicago is a mess. Locker-room in-fighting and a lack of any strategy is making this team one of the most boring to watch in the entire NBA. All of that needs to be considered before one examines their dismal offense, which basketball-reference ranks as the 27th best in the NBA. Nonetheless, they’ve won a few important games lately, and seem to be closing in on turning it around.
- Charlotte Hornets (17-14): The Loss of Al Jefferson for five games has hurt the Hornets. Moreover, now it seems he will be injured for a significant period of time. Nonetheless, their team is performing very well this season, and unfortunately, they may rapidly drop without their starting Center. He acts as a center-point of their offense due to the high volume of post-up shots he takes, and thus the team is not the same without him.
Figure 4 Stats via Synergy
- Boston Celtics (18-14): Ever since a dismal home loss to the Cavaliers the Celtics offense has not been the same. Moreover, per Synergy, the Celtics have the fifth worst transition offense in the NBA. This ranks them directly behind the lowly Sixers.
View Part 2, here!!