Author's Note: For the complete Google Doc/spreadsheet of my updated NBA 2021 Power Ratings, which include each team's net rating, offensive rating, defensive rating and current record, just click here.
In order to create a betting line between two of the teams listed below, simply find the difference between the two teams' power rating and give the home team an additional 1.5 points for home court advantage (HCA). Example: the Los Angeles Lakers play the Golden State Warriors in L.A., and the Lakers are 6 points better according to the power ratings. The Lakers are also home, which is worth 1.5 points. The line in this case should be Lakers -7.5 (6 points added for PR difference, plus 1.5 points added for HCA). Each week I will also highlight notable movements between teams and their new power rating scores listed below:
LA Clippers (Current: 6.5, Last: 6, Start: 5.5)
The Los Angeles Clippers are currently the best three-point shooting team of all time - 42% accuracy from deep - and no, this is not counting the Charlotte Hornets that one year they moved the three-point line.
Milwaukee Bucks (Current: 6, Last: 6.5, Start: 6.5)
Shaquille O'Neal never won anything in the playoffs before he was paired with a great guard in Kobe Bryant. I'm hopeful that the Milwaukee Bucks' upside is higher this season with Jrue Holiday, even if their night-to-night dominance has lessened as the league has caught on. The Bucks just finished a 3-3 stretch without Giannis, and their potential second round series vs. the Nets or the Sixers will be a monster.
Phoenix Suns (Current: 6, Last: 5.5, Start: 2)
Strange no show vs. an undermanned Spurs team - rare a CP3 team would have such a bad effort.
Philadelphia 76ers (Current: 5.5, Last: 5.5, Start: 2.5)
Embiid for MVP? Defense is more important than playmaking at the center position, and not to mention, nine of the last 11 MVP awards have come from a player on the number one seed in their conference.
Miami Heat (Current: 4, Last: 4, Start: 4)
Jimmy Butler's recent absence may cost Miami home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Utah Jazz (Current: 3.5, Last: 8, Start: 2.5)
I love basketball analysis, in part because on the one hand numbers tell you everything, and on the other hand they tell you nothing. Jamal Murray has a +9 net nating differential, meaning the Denver Nuggets have been 9 points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor vs. with him OFF the floor. Makes sense, too: Murray is an instrumental piece to one of the best starting lineups in the entire league.
So, having said that, tell me why the Utah Jazz are 8.5 points BETTER (statistically this year) with their best player, Donovan Mitchell OFF the floor? The Jazz have a net rating of +8.5 with Mitchell ON and +17 with Mitchell OFF! Is Murray secretly All-NBA quality while Mitchell is a secretly a bum? Would the Jazz be wise just to cut their starting SG based on these numbers? No. I still believe Mitchell > Murray, despite the fact that the Jazz have been so good without him this year AND the fact that the Nuggets have been so bad without Murray this year. Why? Well, simply put, the Jazz have absolutely rolled over teams this year.
When they do, they often don't have to play Mitchell much, allowing them to post such a gaudy net rating without him on the court. Doesn’t make him any less valuable solving the puzzle of the NBA’s best defenses when the Jazz face a contender though. And in all actuality, every stat has an exception where the reality is 180 degrees from what you would think at first glance. That's the reason why the only way to successfully handicap the NBA (in my humble opinion) is to watch the games AND to crunch the numbers.
Denver Nuggets (Current: 3, Last: 5, Start: 3.5)
Jokic for MVP? Triple double with efficiency at center ain’t bad - especially when you literally miss 0 games.
Dallas Mavericks (Current: 3, Last: 4.5, Start: 1.5)
I thought the efficiency they showed in March would remain throughout the season, but Dallas has fallen off as of late, going from the 6th best team (by Net Rating) in March, to the 19th best team so far in April.
Portland Blazers (Current: 2.5, Last: 2, Start: 1.5)
They got their guys back. While neither CJ McCollum and Jusif Nurkic has looked great since returning, this Portland Trail Blazers team is in prime position to surprise people (again) come playoff time in late May.
Atlanta Hawks (Current: 2, Last: 1, Start: 0)
Lose John Collins for a while and lose Trae Young for a few games. No problem apparently. These Atlanta Hawks keep on rollin' and have been of one of the best teams in the NBA since head coach Nate McMillan took over for the fired Lloyd Pierce on March 1st. Atlanta is 16-6 SU (14-8 ATS) under their new coach.
Boston Celtics (Current: 2, Last: -1, Start: 4)
The Celtics are back. Boston rallied down double digits to beat the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves at home by nine points in overtime (a maddening game for a guy with a Timberwolves +8.5 ticket, like myself). I felt a turning point in that game too, where Boston realized it was just too good to play this bad. Jayson Tatum dropped 53 that night and followed it up with 44 in a showdown with Steph Curry and Golden State.
Brooklyn Nets (Current: 1.5, Last: 5.5, Start: 4.5)
KD hadn't missed a beat since returning from injury, making 10 of 17 treys in four games...and he’s hurt…
GS Warriors (Current: 1.5, Last: 0.5, Start: -1)
Steve Kerr made headlines this weekend saying that almost everyone in the league was tradeable, including his rookie center James Wiseman. Not surprising to me though, especially considering the Warriors have been 15 points better with veteran Kevon Looney on the floor this season vs. the rookie.
Memphis Grizzlies (Current: 1, Last: -0.5, Start: 3)
#1 Net Rating so far in April.
Indiana Pacers (Current: 0 Last: -1 Start: 1)
Caris LeVert has been playing excellent, scoring 28 PPG on 50% FG shooting over his last four games.
New Orleans Pelicans (Current: 0, Last: 0.5, Start: 0)
Someone wondered on twitter, 'Why is Zion's career high only 39 points?'. Easy - Zion's career high in minutes is only 39. Give him time, and he'll have a 60-burger - going 30-40 from the field - one day.
NY Knicks (Current: 0, Last: -1.5, Start: -7)
Julius Randle for most improved player? Thibbs for coach of the year? The Knicks had essentially the same roster and were the worst team in the entire league last season. Now they're decent. Very decent, in fact.
San Antonio Spurs (Current: -0.5, Last: 0, Start: -2)
The Spurs have a secret weapon, one we've seen for years - sit all their best players, and they're unstoppable. We saw it again last night in Phoenix where the Spurs dominated without Demar Derozan.
Chicago Bulls (Current: -0.5, Last: -1, Start: -4.5)
With leading scoring Zach Lavine out due to COVID-19 protocols, the Chicago Bulls now have an opportunity to see what life will look like next year if they fail to resign their coveted all-star wing.
Washington Wizards (Current: -1.5, Last: -3, Start: -2)
Russell Westbrook is averaging the quietest triple-double in NBA history.
LA Lakers (Current: -2, Last: -2.5, Start: 6.5)
Get this - the Lakers lost DPOY canidate Anthony Davis. One month later, LeBron James - presumambly their second most important defensive player - goes down. Since? Without either, the Lakers have the 4th best defensive rating over a 15 game sample. Only the Jazz, Knicks and Sixers have had a better defense than the Lakers without AD and LBJ. Massive credit should be given to the often forgotten Frank Vogel.
Charlotte Hornets (Current: -2.5, Last: -2, Start: -5.5)
The Charlotte Hornets started out an incredible 5-0 ATS after LaMelo Ball went down with a season ending wrist injury. Since? Just 3-6 against the number. Ball is now scheduled to return in 7-10 days...
Toronto Raptors (Current: -2.5, Last:-2.5, Start: 2.5)
Personally, I was disappointed Lowry didn't get moved at the deadline. Not that I don't like him in Toronto, it's just that I believe it's more interesting when the best players are playing on relevant teams down the stretch. Part of the reason I also think the NBA would be MUCH better if it shrunk to 20 teams or so.
Sacramento Kings (Current: -3, Last: -1.5, Start: -2)
Worst defense in the league all season - but hey, only the fourth worst defense over the past month!
Minnesota T’Wolves (Current: -5.5, Last: -5, Start: -2.5)
They lost ATS as a 8.5-dog despite winning by 15 in the second and forcing the game to overtime against the aforementioned Boston Celtics. And I bet them. F*** it. I'm skipping the Minny Timbers this week.
Orlando Magic (Current: -6, Last: -6, Start: -1.5)
Since offloading their three best players at the NBA trade deadline, only the fellow-tanking Oklahoma City Thunder have been worse than these Orlando Magic. But again - with the spread being the great equalizer - the Magic have actually been slightly above .500 ATS since they've decided to be as bad as possible.
Detroit Pistons (Current: -6, Last: -7, Start: -6)
Dwane Casey has done an admirable job taking care off these rando's who are apparently NBA players.
Cleveland Cavs (Current: -7, Last: -7, Start: -6)
Third worst team over the past month, only in front of the the OKC Thunder and Orlando Magic.
Houston Rockets (Current: -7, Last: -5.5, Start: -1.5)
"I'm the Franchise like a Houston Rocket, Y'ao Mean?!" -Jay-Z. Get it, 'Know what I mean??'/'Yao Ming'??
OKC Thunder (Current: -9.5, Last: -7.5, Start: -3.5)
The OKC Thunder are 4-17 SU without SGA vs. 17-18 when he plays. Since Gilgeous-Alexander went down with a foot injury in mid-March, these Thunder are 1-12 SU & 2-11 ATS with a -11 ATS margin.