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NBA Top 10 Rankings
by Al McMordie - 11/19/2014
We are three weeks into the NBA season, and already the wheat is starting to separate from the chaff. Here are my Top 10-ranked teams (with current odds to win the NBA Title (per Bovada Sportsbook).
1. Golden State Warriors, 8-2 record, 7-3 ATS (7-1 odds)
2. Portland Trail Blazers, 8-3 record, 8-3 ATS (25-1 odds)
3. Dallas Mavericks, 8-3 record, 8-3 ATS (12-1 odds)
4. Toronto Raptors, 8-2 record, 7-3 ATS (25-1 odds)
5. New Orleans Pelicans, 6-4 record, 5-5 ATS (40-1 odds)
6. San Antonio Spurs, 6-4 record, 4-6 ATS (9-2 odds)
7. Memphis Grizzlies, 10-1 record, 5-6 ATS (10-1 odds)
8. Houston Rockets, 9-2 record, 6-5 ATS (14-1 odds)
9. Sacramento Kings, 6-5 record, 7-4 ATS (75-1 odds)
10. Cleveland Cavaliers, 5-4 record, 4-5 ATS (11-4 odds)
Let's take a look at our rankings. At first glance, my ranking of the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the league's best record at 10-1, at #7 might seem low. But then look at their 5-6 ATS record, and it becomes clear. This is a team which has been winning games, but has not been winning them by a large margin. Indeed, Memphis' margin of victory would only project it to have an 8-3 record, so one can surmise it has been "lucky" thus far to achieve a 10-1 record. By season's end, Memphis should fall back to the pack.
Similarly, my ranking of the 6-4 Spurs, at #6, may seem generous. But San Antonio has had three close losses (vs. the Pelicans, Kings and Suns). And its fourth loss (vs. Houston) was a game coach Gregg Popovich "punted" when he rested Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The Spurs are also missing two key components: center Tiago Splitter and back-up point guard Patty Mills. When those two return to the fold, the Spurs will no doubt be at, or near the top of the league.
Golden State, though, gets a shaky number 1 ranking. It's concerning that the Warriors were defeated soundly at home by San Antonio -- a game which the Spurs had to play unrested, following a win at the Clippers the night before. But I cannot ignore their body of work, which includes a win at Portland, as well as a win at Houston (though the Rockets played without Dwight Howard that game). The Warriors are one of only 3 teams to be holding their foes to less than 1 point per possession (San Antonio and Houston being the other two), and they also rank among the Top 10 in offensive efficiency.
Dallas and Portland also received consideration for the Top spot, but their lack of balance was key for me in placing them behind Golden State. Both Dallas and Portland own the Top 2 offenses in the Western Conference, but neither has a defense comparable to teams like Golden State, San Antone or Houston. And the fact that Portland lost to the Warriors, but beat Dallas was another reason for my decision to rank GSW #1, Portland #2 and Dallas #3.
If someone wants to take a "flyer" on a team, certainly Toronto, at 25-1 odds, represents decent value. It plays in the creampuff Eastern Conference. And one never knows how healthy Chicago's Derrick Rose will be come the Playoffs.
Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.