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I prefer to allow approximately 25% of the NBA season to play out before publishing my NBA Performance ratings which gives each team a chance to settle into their true performance – that is very similar to how we handle the NFL where our first published ratings follow Week 4 games. The below ratings and analysis will be done every two weeks for the rest of the season.

Here is the first installment of the 2013-2014 NBA Performance Ratings:

Performance Ratings (As of 12/18/13)
Category Offense Defense Total Wins
Team Rating Rank Rating Rank Rating Rank Total Rank
Indiana 56 14 33 2 89 1 20 2
Minnesota 43 6 48 7 91 2 13 13
Oklahoma City 50 7 49 9 99 4 20 2
Toronto 53 10 46 6 99 4 9 21
San Antonio 73 22 27 1 100 7 20 2
Portland 28 1 72 23 100 7 22 1
Charlotte 66 18 34 3 100 7 12 15
LA Clippers 40 5 62 12 102 8 18 6
Houston 40 5 63 14 103 9 17 7
Denver 39 2 68 19 107 10 14 9
New Orleans 40 5 73 24 113 11 11 18
Atlanta 71 20 44 4 115 12 14 9
Detroit 54 12 63 14 117 13 13 13
Sacramento 52 8 68 19 120 14 7 27
Miami 55 13 67 16 122 16 19 5
Chicago 73 22 49 9 122 16 9 21
Washington 77 25 46 6 123 17 11 18
Golden State 65 17 59 11 124 18 14 9
Memphis 62 15 68 19 130 19 10 20
Phoenix 54 12 80 28 134 20 14 9
Dallas 63 16 75 26 138 21 15 8
New York 70 19 72 23 142 22 8 25
Brooklyn 53 10 91 29 144 23 9 21
Boston 74 23 71 21 145 25 12 15
Orlando 89 28 56 10 145 25 8 25
Cleveland 83 27 64 15 147 26 9 21
LA Lakers 78 26 77 27 155 27 12 15
Philadelphia 92 29 70 20 162 28 7 27
Milwaukee 96 30 75 26 171 29 5 30
Utah 77 25 104 30 181 30 7 27


Similar to my NFL Performance Ratings these break each team down using the metrics & statistics I have tested and found to be of the highest correlation to team success. One aspect to keep in mind is the ratings above are best when lower compared to our NFL ratings that are best when higher.

We can use these ratings numerous ways, identifying teams that may be over or under valued, or also for total players identifying which matchups could produce more or less points.

Based on these ratings & how teams have performed in the win/loss column through yesterday’s games (12/18), here are a few teams to be both bullish and bearish on:

Bullish (looking for teams whose true performance has not led to as many victories as suggested statistically): Minnesota, Toronto, Charlotte, New Orleans

Bearish (opposite of Bullish comments above): Boston, Dallas, Phoenix

Next let’s dive into the Power Ratings which use the Performance Rankings as a base:

Power Ratings (As of 12/18/13)
Team Home Road
Indiana 117.5 113.0
Minnesota 115.7 112.7
Oklahoma City 116.2 111.7
Toronto 113.7 111.7
San Antonio 115.6 111.6
Portland 115.6 111.6
Charlotte 113.6 111.6
LA Clippers 115.3 111.3
Houston 114.7 111.2
Denver 113.7 110.7
New Orleans 112.4 109.9
Atlanta 113.1 109.6
Detroit 111.3 109.3
Sacramento 111.0 109.0
Miami 112.7 108.7
Chicago 111.2 108.7
Washington 111.1 108.6
Golden State 111.9 108.4
Memphis 109.7 107.7
Phoenix 110.1 107.1
Dallas 110.6 106.6
New York 108.1 106.1
Brooklyn 107.8 105.8
Boston 108.2 105.7
Orlando 107.7 105.7
Cleveland 108.4 105.4
LA Lakers 106.9 104.4
Philadelphia 105.5 103.5
Milwaukee 104.3 102.3
Utah 103.0 101.0


These are actually Power Ratings that can be used when handicapping nightly matchups. For example, according to my ratings above, if Utah played at Indiana I would set the line at Indiana -16.5 with all else being equal such as motivation (divisional contest, either team seeking revenge, on a losing or winning streak), days rest for both teams, injuries, etc… We can use these ratings to handicap the lines Vegas sets, and perhaps find value plays based on variances between suggested lines according to my Power Ratings and available lines each night.

Lastly let’s take a look at wins by team in three critical buckets: SU to date, ATS to date & SU projected at season’s end. The SU projected wins are based on the same statistics as the Performance Ratings but plugged into a tested regression formula weighting each statistic/metric on their true impact on wins:

Win Projection (As of 12/18/13)
Category SU Wins ATS Wins Overall
Team Home Road Home Road Projected Wins Rank
Indiana 20 2 17 2 55.21 3
Minnesota 13 13 14 8 47.29 10
Oklahoma City 20 2 14 8 53.09 5
Toronto 9 21 10 22 43.92 16
San Antonio 20 2 13 14 63.60 1
Portland 22 1 18 1 50.68 6
Charlotte 12 15 16 4 39.67 18
LA Clippers 18 6 16 4 54.38 4
Houston 17 7 14 8 48.88 7
Denver 14 9 12 17 45.79 14
New Orleans 11 18 9 25 45.22 15
Atlanta 14 9 15 6 41.56 17
Detroit 13 13 13 14 47.65 9
Sacramento 7 27 8 27 33.47 22
Miami 19 5 12 17 63.47 2
Chicago 9 21 7 29 31.47 23
Washington 11 18 14 8 39.46 19
Golden State 14 9 11 20 46.84 12
Memphis 10 20 7 29 33.50 21
Phoenix 14 9 17 2 46.40 13
Dallas 15 8 14 8 48.00 8
New York 8 25 9 25 47.13 11
Brooklyn 9 21 11 20 28.70 26
Boston 12 15 15 6 36.07 20
Orlando 8 25 13 14 31.03 24
Cleveland 9 21 10 22 28.68 27
LA Lakers 12 15 14 8 29.49 25
Philadelphia 7 27 10 22 19.79 28
Milwaukee 5 30 8 27 15.02 30
Utah 7 27 12 17 16.87 29


This formula has proved to be very accurate over the years at projecting not only the order at which teams will finish in the standings but also the actual wins teams will wind up with come the end of the regular season. Based on these projections as of 12/18 the playoffs would set up like this:

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Western Conference

1) San Antonio 64-18
2) LA Clippers 54-28
3) Oklahoma City 53-29
4) Portland 51-31
5) Houston 49-33
6) Dallas 48-34
7) Minnesota 47-35
8) Golden State 47-35

Eastern Conference
1) Miami 63-19
2) Indiana 55-27
3) Detroit 48-34
4) New York 47-35
5) Toronto 44-38
6) Atlanta 42-40
7) Charlotte 40-42
8) Washington 39-43

Additional analysis that can be performed using the last three win columns is seeking out big variances between the rankings of each columns and using that information to help identify potentially over or under valued teams. What do I mean by that exactly?

Take the Atlanta Hawks, currently ranked 9th in the NBA with 14 wins; comparing that to their projected final season wins of 42 wins (which means they would close the season going 28-28) they could be a team to target as underperforming over the last 75% of the regular season. When also adding in the fact Atlanta is currently 6th best in the NBA with 15 ATS wins Vegas will likely be shifting their lines a hair – to check if Vegas is doing that you can use the Power Ratings from the 2nd matrix and compare those to the Vegas numbers.

One other team that stands out some that I wanted to comment on is Toronto – some will wonder how can they rank tied for 3rd in performance yet only have nine wins, good for 21st in the NBA? While it’s true they made a recent big trade the real reason they are not winning as many games as their performance suggests is because they are not rating well in the most critical area to having success – shooting, both offensively and defensively. So while they can perform well in every other area, much like the NFL, if a team moves the ball well between the 20s but continually stalls in the red zone and kicks field goals they will not win as many games as a team that may be less effective and efficient as far as yardage goes, but they score more TDs. Toronto needs to improve their shooting metrics to win more games.

One thing to remember when using these projections is it assumes a team will continue playing at the level it has so far this season (which is the precise reason I prefer to wait till about 25% of the season is played before releasing this information), and it also does not adjust for injuries – whether it be a Derrick Rose type player being lost for the entire season which will likely lead to worse team performance. Remember, on a night to night basis injuries in the NBA are often over-adjusted for; but as big-name players miss extended periods of time it will impact their performance.

  
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