Editor's Note: For complete access to Mackenzie's NBA Player Values chart (updated weekly), which assigns point values to the top 80+ players across the league and supplements his free weekly NBA Power Ratings below, click here to learn about our new Betting Predators NBA Premium Package.
For the complete spreadsheet version of my updated NBA 2021 Power Ratings, which include each team's net rating, offensive rating, defensive rating, current record and more, you can view the full sheet 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). To adjust for new player injuries, rest days and minutes restrictions throughout the week, I recommend pairing these power ratings below with my weekly NBA Player Line Values in order to create the sharpest lines.
Phoenix Suns – Current: +6.5, Last: +5.5, Start: +2
Currently tied in the standings with the Jazz for first place in the West, the Suns lead the season-series over Utah three games to none. Ironically, the reward for the #1 seed could be a second-round date with the winner between the Clippers (4th seed) & Lakers (tied for the 5th seed with the Mavericks). But if Chris Paul wants to earn his first career trip to the NBA Finals, then it doesn't really matter when he faces the big guns out west. The Dragon will eventually have to be slayed, whether it's in this round or the next.
Milwaukee Bucks – Current: +6.5, Last: +6, Start: +6.5
Giannis answered questions about his touchy ankle in a big way Sunday afternoon, scoring 46 and besting a red-hot Kevin Durant in one of the best games of the season as the Bucks edged Brooklyn 117-114.
LA Clippers – Current: +6, Last: +2.5, Start: +5.5
The Lakers and Clippers are currently on pace for a potential #4/#5 matchup in Round 1? Yes, please! What a way that would be to end what has often like meaningless basketball over the last couple of months.
Brooklyn Nets – Current: +6, Last: +6, Start: +4.5
An x-factor in the Nets' playoff prospects will be PF Blake Griffin. If the Nets can rest two of its big three and not miss a beat with Griffin playing portions of the game in the point-forward role, then I don't see another team in the East with the firepower to keep up with Brooklyn. Griffin has been slowly but surely increasing his minutes and production with Brooklyn, posting 10 PPG and 5 RPG throughout April.
Philadelphia 76ers – Current: +5.5, Last: +5.5, Start: +2.5
The Philadelphia 76ers got three starters back from minor injuries this past week and instantly looked to be back at peak form, winning their next four games in a row by an average of 25 points per contest.
LA Lakers – Current: +5, Last: +2, Start: +6.5
No surprise that LeBron accelerated his return with the Lakers playing this poorly without him. At this point, dropping into the play-in tournament is not out of the question. Since April 15th, the only teams worse than the Lakers on a per-play basis have been the Rockets, Magic, Cavs, Thunder and Pistons, aka the bottom five teams in the league. Unfortunately for LA, LeBron has not hit the ground running, with the Lakers dropping their first two games back from his month-long absence. Making matters worse is that LeBron has worried publicly that his ankle may never allow him to truly return to "100 percent."
Denver Nuggets – Current: +4, Last: +3, Start: +3.5
The Denver Nuggets have won five in a row and nine out of 10 since star PG Jamal Murray went down for the year. Key reason? Second-year standout Michael Porter Jr. has stepped up in a big way. Over these past 10 games without Murray, MPJ is scoring 26 PPG on 57% FG shooting while knocking down four three's per game on better than 50% 3PT shooting. I've bumped Denver up a full point accordingly.
Utah Jazz – Current: +3, Last: +3.5, Start: +2.5
The Jazz can still stomp teams without Donovan Mitchell, as evidenced by their 154-105 drubbing of the Sacramento Kings this past week. What is a taller task, however, is beating good teams without their All-Star, as evidenced again by Utah hardly putting up a fight in their 121-100 loss to Phoenix on Friday.
Miami Heat – Current: +2.5, Last: +2.5, Start: +4
Jimmy Butler & the Miami Heat are right where they want to be - out of sight, out of mind and ready to shock the Milwaukee Bucks (again), this time perhaps in the East's #3/#6 matchup in round one.
Portland Blazers – Current: +2.5, Last: +2, Start: +1.5
Damian Lillard cooled off mightily in April, shooting under 40% for an entire month for the first time in over two full seasons. Getting back up to speed with backcourt mate CJ McCollum seemed to be the proximate cause of his slump, too. There is a reason why teams don't necessarily prioritize winning at this point in the season - the most important thing is to shore up any question marks, establish concrete pecking orders and prepare to play your best collective ball for the playoff grind ahead. Two years ago, when Dame had his last under 40% shooting month, he followed that up by slaying the Oklahoma City Thunder in epic fashion in Round 1, en route to his first career Western Conference Finals berth with the Trail Blazers.
Atlanta Hawks – Current: +2, Last: -0.5, Start: 0
The Hawks kept afloat without star point guard Trae Young for much of April. Now they have the next month to get Young back up to speed and prepared for his first ever experience in the NBA Playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks – Current: +2, Last: +2.5, Start: +1.5
Dallas has settled into season-average level, about two points per game better than the average team and matching their average scoring margin for the year of +2.1. Porzingis has been fine on offense, but he hasn't proven to be the defensive force to make he & Luka competitive with the dynamic duos out West.
Boston Celtics – Current: +1.5, Last: +2, Start: +1.5
Jayson Tatum answered the bell in his young career as an NBA superstar: with his team sputtering toward being out of the playoffs, Tatum played his best ball of the year by scoring 30 PPG while the Celtics posted an excellent 11-4 record in April to help turn their season around. Boston now has the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, per Tankathon (.428%), with seven games left in the regular season and just one game behind the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat for either the #5 or #6 seed out in the East.
GS Warriors – Current: +1.5, Last: +1.5, Start: -1
Despite resting a game early in the month, Steph Curry ended April with an NBA record 96 made three-pointers (!) and eclipsed James Harden's 2018 record of three-pointers made in a month by 14.
Memphis Grizzlies – Current: +1, Last: +1.5, Start: -3
Ja Morant is only shooting 30.3% from three-point range this season - that is what the NBA Twitter-Verse continuously kills Giannis and Ben Simmons for shooting, right? Morant doesn't have the size or physical gifts as those other guys, and he needs to correct that hole in his game to reach his All-NBA potential.
NY Knicks – Current: +1, Last: +1.5, Start: -7
The mystery of Julius Randle with and without braids continues. When their best player has been rocking his hair braided this season, the Knicks are 31-18. When Randle does NOT rock his braids? The Knicks are 5-10. Now that this funny little trend has gotten out there, my money says we see Randle keep them rows tight the rest of the season, as the Knicks looked to end their 7-year playoff drought. By the way, who says there is no parity in the NBA? The Knicks – one of the worst teams in the league last year – have the same exact record at this moment as the defending Champion LA Lakers, sitting at 36-28 overall.
Indiana Pacers – Current: +0.5, Last: +0.5, Start: +1
Indiana has a 9-8 straight up record in April with a -0.4 average scoring margin. Nobody keeps PACE (of a mediocre professional basketball outfit) better than them boys from Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
New Orleans Pelicans – Current: +0.5, Last: +0.5, Start: +1
Despite a new coach, despite an All-Star level season from Brandon Ingram, despite Zion Williamson staying healthy for the year and continuing to grow, the New Orleans Pelicans simply are not any better than they were a year ago. Losing Jrue Holiday for Eric Bledsoe will always be a tough whole to climb out of, but I believe general manager David Griffin has to start hitting the panic button NOW. New Orleans absolutely NEEDS to make the playoffs next year. If not, then it won't be too long before we are hearing more about how gosh darn much Zion loves playing at Madison Square Garden, followed by Zion wearing an ironic Looney Tunes shirt in his last night in the building before shipping off to greener pastures.
San Antonio Spurs – Current: -0.5, Last: -0.5, Start: -2
With key guards in/out of lineup the Spurs continue to play 'next-man-up' ball better any other franchise.
Charlotte Hornets – Current: -1, Last: -1.5, Start: -5.5
LaMelo Ball is BACK - and the rookie is instantly grabbing headlines for the Hornets with his 90-foot underhanded, top-spin, dropping it into the bucket DIME, one that you simply have to see to believe.
Washington Wizards – Current: -0.5, Last: -1, Start: -2
The Washington Wizards have been capable of scoring with anybody throughout the season - we saw that in their improbable 149-146 win over the Brooklyn Nets at the end of January. But the difference in April has been their defense. Head coach Scott Brooks team has bought in on that end of the floor and this Wizards squad has subsequently posted the fourth most efficient defense in the NBA since April 1st.
Toronto Raptors – Current: -1.5, Last: -1.5, Start: +2.5
The Toronto Raptors kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Sunday with a big win over the Los Angeles Lakers. If only the Raptors played the Lakers every night, they'd have a real shot at making the playoffs too - Toronto has beaten LA in an amazing 12 out of their past 13 matchups (!) dating back to 2014.
Sacramento Kings – Current: -2.5, Last: -2.5, Start: -2
The Kings gave up 154 points to a team missing their best scorer. No matter how fun rookie Tyrese Haliburton is on a night-to-night basis, it can't be fun being a Kings fan nowadays. Sacramento will be without postseason basketball for a 15th year in a row now after watching Phoenix end its streak.
Chicago Bulls – Current: -3, Last: -1.5, Start: -4.5
The Bulls saw their slim playoff hopes go up in smoke this month once Zach Lavine went down for an extended period. With a couple All-Stars in toe, however, Chicago should make the playoffs next year.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Current: -5.5, Last: -4.5, Start: -2.5
D'Angelo Russell is back and coming off the bench, a curious development for the former All-Star. I'm not sure how much of a concrete game plan the franchise has for any of its developing stars at the moment.
Detroit Pistons – Current: -6.5, Last: -5, Start: -6
The Pistons are often lumped into the bottom of the bottom tier of NBA teams. That's fair for the season, sure, but recently this Detroit club has been the rare bottom-dweller to actually compete. Since April 1st, head coach Dwayne Casey has helped lead his team to posting a respectable 6-11 record overall.
Cleveland Cavs – Current: -7, Last: -7, Start: -6
This one awful play epitomizes Kevin Love’s Post-LeBron career. Often injured and/or annoyed playing alongside a young and undisciplined Cleveland Cavaliers team (often both), Basketball Reference has Love with a 73% chance to make the Basketball HOF. That seems high to me. Statistically I see the argument (18 PPG, 11 RPG over 730-game career), but the last few years will leave a bad taste in voters’ mouth if he doesn’t find a way to get back to his old form - or at the very least, contribute to an NBA title contender.
Orlando Magic – Current: -8, Last: -6, Start: -1.5
Due to injuries to starting PG Markell Fultz and backup PG Michael Carter Williams, the Orlando Magic have had to start rookie Cole Anthony 26 different times this season. In those 26 games, the Magic have won on only five occasions and have lost by 25+ points on six occasions. It's almost professional malpractice to have Anthony bring the ball up against elite NBA guards at the point in his career. The only thing I can think of from this calendar year that's at all similar is that one Sunday night when the Dallas Cowboys trotted out Ben DiNucci as their starting quarterback on primetime television (regrettable hours. *Shudders*).
Houston Rockets – Current: -9, Last: -6.5, Start: -1.5
These Rockets are the OKC Thunder without the HOPE (i.e. the treasure trove of future draft picks).
OKC Thunder – Current: -11.5, Last: -10, Start: -3.5
Is this the worst NBA team that's ever been trotted out on a regular basis? The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost 17 of 18 games in the month of April alone, losing by an average of exactly 20 points per game.