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NBA Efficiency Leaders (and Laggards)

   by Al McMordie - 11/11/2013

Early NBA Season Surprises
By Big Al McMordie

The NBA, like any sport, changes year-to-year. Teams descend; others ascend. And one must keep track of the team movements to stay atop of the betting game. Let’s take a look at some early major movements from last season.

Offensive Efficiency

I like to look at “adjusted” numbers early in the year, which can be very different from “raw” numbers due to schedule strength. A team might look impressive, but be a beneficiary of a week schedule. Or vice-versa. Let’s see what teams are doing the best and worst so far, and what teams are surprising.

The top five teams are Miami (114.2), LA Clippers (113.46), Portland (111.62), Dallas (109.05) and Houston (108.21). The bottom five teams are Utah (worst, 94.78), LA Lakers (97.10), Cleveland (97.22), Chicago (98.65) and Charlotte (100.02).

Clearly, Portland and Dallas are surprising, given that they finished the 2013 season ranked 16th and 14th, respectively). And, at the bottom of the offensive ratings, the one major surprise is Chicago, which has fallen to 27th from last year’s 23rd ranking, even though it added former MVP Derrick Rose.

Defensive Efficiency

The top five defensive teams are Indiana (93.98), Golden State (95.90), Orlando (96.09), San Antonio (97.12) and Phoenix (99.28). The bottom five are Utah (worst, 110.58), LA Clippers (100.34), Portland (109.61), Miami (109.46) and New York (109.38).

The teams that jump out as surprising to me would be the champion Heat (ranking 27th in defense), LA Clippers (ranking 29th), Orlando Magic (ranking 3rd), and the Phoenix Suns (ranking 5th). Last year, the Clippers ranked 7th in defensive efficiency, Miami finished 9th, Orlando ranked 26th, and Phoenix ranked 22nd. The Clippers is especially bewildering, given they fired Vinnie Del Negro and brought in the defensive-minded Doc Rivers as head coach.

Net Rating

The top five teams are Indiana (10.25), Minnesota (7.51), San Antonio (6.96), Golden State (6.89) and Orlando (6.12). The bottom five are Utah (worst, -14.76), Charlotte (-8.36), New York (-6.88), Sacramento (-6.72) and Cleveland (-5.65).

There are several surprises on the Net Rating list. The Timberwolves have always had promise, but finally are healthy, and it’s showing with a solid 5-2 start to the season. Orlando, though, is a shock. But the Magic have a losing record at 3-4, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them to see what’s closer to the truth: their losing record, or their +6.12 margin.

At the bottom of the Net Rating standings, the lone surprise is New York. Last year, the Knickerbockers ranked 7th with a +4.35 rating. But an injury to Tyson Chandler and early suspension to JR Smith haven’t helped Mike Woodson’s men this season. New York will likely improve, as the season goes on. But it won’t finish in the Top 10 this year.

There’s generally very little value in futures tickets, but if you can still find REAL long odds on the Timberwolves (100-1 or higher) to win the Title, it would be worth it.

Good luck, as always…Al McMordie.

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