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.
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 + 1.5 points added for HCA). Each week I will also highlight notable movements between NBA teams and their new power rating scores listed here below:
NBA Power Ratings Change Log: (From 1.27.21 to 2.4.21)
1.5 Point Moves
- Orlando Magic DOWN 1.5 (from -4 to -5.5)
1.0 Point Moves
- Memphis Grizzlies UP 1.0 (from -2.5 to -1.5)
- Washington Wizards UP 1.0 (from -4 to -3)
0.5 Point Moves
- LA Clippers UP 0.5 (from +6 to +6.5)
- UTH Jazz UP 0.5 (from +4.5 to +5)
- BK Nets UP 0.5 (from +4 to +4.5)
- Boston Celtics DOWN -0.5 (from +3 to +2.5)
- PHO Suns DOWN -0.5 (from +2.5 to +2)
- DAL Mavericks DOWN -0.5 (from +2.5 to +2)
- HOU Rockets UP 0.5 (from +0.5 to +1)
- Charlotte Hornets UP 0.5 (from -4.5 to -4)
- OKC Thunder DOWN 0.5 (from -4.5 to -4)
- Minnesota Timberwolves UP 0.5 (from -7 to -6.5)
LA Lakers +6.5 ("6.5 points better than an average team")
The Los Angeles Lakers cruised to last year's championship while being on average a seven-point favorite in each of their playoff games. The teams they beat in my ratings are currently ranked 20th (Portland Trail Blazers), 12th (Houston Rockets), 7th (Denver Nuggets) & 13th (Miami Heat). Obviously, those teams are a lot different now than they were four months ago. Still, the Lakers didn't exactly go through murderer’s row here. Because of the brand and the legacy, I see why they are significant favorites over the Los Angeles Clippers & Brooklyn Nets in the futures markets to win it all. But I do not think it's warranted.
LA Clippers +6.5
The Clippers have been excellent on both ends of the court for a month, leading me to boost them another 1/2 point and into a virtual tie with their Staples Center rivals. They lost their three best players due to COVID protocols for two games, but since two of them came back - Kawhi and PG - they have not missed a beat on their recent road trip, playing well in a close loss to the Nets and blowing out the Cavs/Magic.
Milwaukee Bucks +5.5
When the Milwaukee Bucks get rolling, they get rolling like we have rarely seen before. Other times? Not so much. The last 9 games say it all: Milwaukee has a 5-4 SU record and a +9 Net Rating. Only the Bucks!
Philadelphia 76ers +5
Players to average 28+ points and 11+ boards per game since 2000: Shaquille O'Neal, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis & PHI 76ers starting Center, MVP Favorite, Joel Hans Embiid.
Utah Jazz +5
The Utah Jazz are a good offensive team with just a relatively few good offensive players. Donovan Mitchell & Mike Conley kind of have to do it all, with Jordan Clarkson (the 6th man award favorite) helping off the bench. This over-reliance precipitates really bad spells if either of the guards go cold or is off the floor. Blowing a 28-point lead to the lowly Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, Utah not only struggled to score, but struggled to play coherent offense. Their turnovers and badly missed threes led to easy baskets for the Pistons, who cut their 28-point second-half deficit to 4 points in the final minutes of the fourth.
BK Nets +4.5
In two games vs. top NBA competition (the Milwaukee Bucks & Los Angeles Clippers), the Brooklyn Nets are 2-0. Yet they are 0-2 vs. the Wizards. Promising early returns, but also up and down on a nightly basis.
Denver Nuggets +3
Nikola Jokic is the NBA's 2021 Most Valuable Player guys, stop playing. Practically a 50/40/90 guy averaging 27 points and a triple double per game. Why isn't this a bigger story?! It's like we've decided that statistics don’t matter. I understand that sentiment, sure, but at this point I believe that we are missing the forest for the trees. You could talk me into Joel Embiid because of the defensive end of the floor, but...
Boston Celtics +2.5
WITHOUT Kemba are 9-4 SU this year. WITH Kemba are 2-5 SU. Sound familiar? I’m not letting this go…
Phoenix Suns +2
Devin Booker is the exception to the rule that PER, also known as “Player Efficiency Rating” is a good, quick proxy for a player’s general value to an NBA team. Booker has a 14 PER that is below league average - that shocked me when I saw it, and although I have seen a dozen Suns games this year - including their comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday - Booker still looked pretty good to me. I then glanced at his stats: 23/4/3 on 47% shooting, and thinking about it, here is what is happening in my view: PER is adjusted on a season-by-season basis, and today's higher-paced game creates more rebounds and more assists in general. So for a high-minutes player to average that few rebounds and assists, the algorithm simply spits out a "not good enough" number. But it's plenty good, however, especially for this player, on this team. That is Booker's role – he is the Phoenix Suns' assassin. If his point guard Chris Paul sets him up, then he does not need to and should not look to pass. Just like a young Kobe Bryant - let the Big Man grab the boards and let Harp bring the ball up. I am the solver of puzzles, the maker of game-ending threes.
Dallas Mavericks +2
Luka Doncic looked both lifeless and uninspired at the end of the Phoenix Suns game on Monday night, which contributed to the Dallas Mavericks blowing a fourth quarter lead and their sixth consecutive loss.
Toronto Raptors +1.5
VanVleet is their best player at this point.
Houston Rockets +1
Best D-Rating in the league since the Harden trade.
Miami Heat +0.5
Alright Spo, what exactly is going on here? You can explain away the fact that you are 27th in Net Rating due to player unavailability. But now all of your best players are healthy and active, including both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Yet your Miami Heat squad still lost at home to the Washington Wizards?
GS Warriors +0.5
The mystery of Draymond Green continues. The Golden State Warriors are better when he is on the floor, sure, but I challenge you to find a starter in recent NBA history with worse numbers. He is getting paid $16M for shooting 16% from three. I come down on the side of "he's not good, hasn't been for a while." The Warriors are bad without him simply because they lack playmakers, not because he's a good player.
Indiana Pacers +0.5
I know Domantis Sabonis made a leap this year. Malcolm Brogdon always impresses as well. But I'll just stay this: if I feel asleep for 14 years and woke up, then when I'd go to adjust my NBA Power Ratings I would lay -200 that the Indiana Pacers' rating would move less than one point in either direction. Indiana = a thoroughly, slightly above average NBA team with good players and maybe, just maybe, in the good times, 0.75 great players. (Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal and Paul George = 2.25 by my calculations).
Atlanta Hawks -0.5
Good performances in recent losses to the Nets, Lakers & Mavericks. John Collins has come alive over the last few games, which may boost his trade value more than it helps this current Atlanta Hawks squad.
New Orleans Pelicans -1
Flashes of upside for Zion's Pels. The last four games saw the New Orleans Pelicans notch their best wins of the season over the Bucks and Suns, bookended with losses to the Rockets & Kings. Something to tuck away for the next time they play: Zion vs. the Suns this year is 21/27 from the field (!) over two games.
SA Spurs -1
Pop starting to look like Willie Nelson. I can dig it.
Memphis Grizzlies -1.5
Grit and Grind is back in Memphis - #4 defensive team in the league.
Portland Blazers -2
Blazers are the Kings with a HOF point guard in Damian Lillard - also the #30 defense in the league.
Sacramento Kings -2
Kings are the Blazers with a 23-year-old point guard in De’Aaron Fox - and the #29 defense in the league.
Cleveland Cavs -2.5
I would be shocked if the Cavs won either of their next two games vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, who are 37-3 SU, 30-10 ATS over the last three years vs. other Central Division teams. The Cavs could be a playoff team, but they also have very limited upside in my opinion, back-to-back wins over the Nets notwithstanding.
Washington Wizards -3
The Washington Wizards recently got a big win over the defending Eastern champion Miami Heat without Russell Westbrook. Rumor mill also says that Bradley Beal now wants to stay. That would be cool - he could score 30 points a game there for years - and eventually they will get the right pieces to compete.
Chicago Bulls -3.5
After the Knicks & Bulls split their two-game set this week, rumors came out that Bulls SG Zach LaVine could be a trade a target for NY in exchange for draft picks. I like that for both sides- the Bulls are not going anywhere anytime soon with Lavine and could use the draft capital to reach for their next star. For the Knicks, I believe that Lavine could make them a playoff team for the first time since 2013. That would make them appear like a stable organization, re-energizing fans and possibly attracting free agents.
Charlotte Hornets -4
Season-high 38 minutes for the rookie LaMelo Ball on Wednesday night, as the Charlotte Hornets rallied to cover by a 1/2 point in a home loss to the Philadelphia Sixers. The Hornets are now 8-2 ATS & 7-3 SU this year when LaMelo plays 27 or more minutes. Now that he is starting, I expect more good things.
NY Knicks -4
Now that they have a competent defensive core, I believe that the New York Knicks would benefit from trading power forward Julius Randle and/or draft picks for an explosive perimeter scorer - kind of like the one Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau had during his days with the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose.
OKC Thunder -4.5
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s progression is the only story I care about this year if I'm a Thunder fan. On that front, you'e got to be thrilled: SGA is scoring 4 more PPG on better efficiency while doubling his assist total.
Detroit Pistons -5
With a loss on Tuesday night to the Utah Jazz, the Detroit Pistons are now 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS without Derrick Rose this season. When he plays, they are still 4-11 SU, but 9-5-1 ATS. Rose still has value as a turbo-charged scoring option of the bench, and I hope to see him join a contender before his 33rd birthday.
Orlando Magic -5.5
The Orlando Magic are now 2-12 SU and 3-11 ATS since starting point guard Markelle Fultz went down with his season-ending injury. Is backup & rookie Cole Anthony that bad? That's definitely part of it. Either way, coach Steve Clifford is in a tough position, lacking a real carrot to motivate this young Orlando team.
Minnesota T’Wolves -6.5
I have said it before and I will say it again - like Michael Jordan's consecutive made FG streak in Game 2 of the 1991 NBA Finals, these streaks end on 13. After giving up 110+ points for 13 consecutive contests, the Minnesota Timberwolves had now held their opponent under that number in back-to-back outings before giving up 111 in a close loss on Wednesday night to the San Antonio Spurs. That’s improvement!