End of January Power Rankings 2019

We are approximately two thirds of the way through the NBA season and we have the strongest ranking model yet. With a few changes, the model is now showing an R-square value of 99 percent. The model is still predicting winning percentage which may not be the best way to rank teams since it leaves out strength of schedule. It does however give us a good image of what teams are expected to finish with the best records this season.

Rankings 2-2-19
Rankings based on games played up until 2-1-19

Milwaukee stayed at the top of our rankings and are showing no signs of slowing down. However, there have been some rumors and roster changes that could lead to substantial late season movement. Golden State for example has a very good chance of moving to the top spot. With DeMarcus Cousins’ return from injury, they now have what is likely the best starting lineup in NBA history. In case you didn’t remember, all five Warrior starters were in last year’s All-Star game.

The Los Angeles Lakers are another team I would expect to move a little higher up in the rankings. With LeBron James back in the lineup, there is no doubt the team is better. The Lakers are also one of the most popular teams for last minute trade rumors this season. Based on the feedback they got from their first few offers to the New Orleans Pelicans, it doesn’t seem likely that Anthony Davis will be making his way over to the golden coast before the trade deadline. But, with a plethora of young assets and a need to make space for any the many stars who have expressed interest in joining the King in LA, they could still be working on a last-minute deal to better position their team for the future.

One team we should expect to see move in down in the rankings is the Indiana Pacers. With Victor Oladipo out due to a ruptured quad tendon that is likely to keep him sidelined until 2021, it would be no surprise that the Pacers are not able to perform at the same level. There are some rumors that indicate they are open to trades to keep their team relevant in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture. Memphis Grizzlies’ starting point guard Mike Conley has been rumored to be a player of interest in the Pacers trade rumors.

One last team that deserves a little recognition for their efforts to improve is the Dallas Mavericks. On top of the breakout performance of rookie phenomenon Luka Doncic, the Mavericks worked out a trade to bring in the young star Kristaps Porzingis. Though Porzingis may not see the court this year due to his continued recovery from an ACL tear, fans all around the league are eagerly waiting to see the young duo in action. As long as Porzingis can stay healthy, Dallas may be the up and coming team to watch in the Western Conference next season.

Overall, I am very happy with the new model and will continue to look for ways to improve it. Feel free to contact me through the main website with any ideas, comments, or topics about what you want to hear more about.

End of November Power Rankings

For the end of November power ranking I will be using a new more accurate model. This model is based off of regression analysis where the following factors were used to predict winning percentages: three-point percentage, two-point percentage, free-throw percentage, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, steals, blocks, turnovers, personal fouls, and points against. Other stats were considered and tested such as assists and were later removed due to autocorrelation issues.

In this model, two-point and three-point percentage are the strongest predictors of win percentage by far. The model has a correlation coefficient of 0.90 which means that it has a very strong linear relationship. The adjusted R square value is a .71 which means that seventy one percent of teams win percentages are explained by the independent variables previously listed. This does represent a relatively strong fit but there is still room to improve in the future.

Final RankingsModel details aside, here are the results. The Milwaukee Bucks lead by Giannis Antetokounmpo have earned the top spot in the rankings. I don’t think that they will finish as the best team in the NBA and they probably aren’t there right now, but with their excellent 58.8 percent two-point percentage and 36.1 percent three-point percentage it is no surprise they earned a high ranking in the current model.

The most underachieving team in the NBA right now, in my opinion, is the Washington Wizards. With names like John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter on their roster expectations were high for this team. They have consistently been a playoff caliber team in the East of the last five seasons and were one game shy of 50 wins since the 1979-80 season. The team is likely to be separated soon as all current starters are on the trading block.

Another team I want to comment on is the Detroit Pistons. In ESPNs last power ranking the Pistons made it into the top ten. As much as I want to see the Pistons do well, I’m skeptical as to how long they can keep this level of success. Blake Griffin seems to be the shining point of the teams offense, while the teams overall shooting percentages are average at best. They are still in the bottom three in the league in three-point percentage with a coach who has them taking the sixth most three-point attempts per game. Despite the shooting struggles, the team is off to a great start and could be a few pieces away from becoming a true threat in the east. Carmelo Anthony, Bradley Beal, and JR Smith could all be potential assets if they come at the right price.

Lastly, I want to talk about a few teams that I believe have the best chance of jumping into the top ten before the new year. The Lakers are my first choice here. LeBron and company seem to finally be showing signs of meshing and James has shown he is still capable of putting up the numbers he did in his finals runs with the Cavs. Expect the Lakers to continue to improve as their chemistry grows.

The honorable mention for most likely to hit the top ten before the new year goes to the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. I loved the move they made to get Jimmy Butler especially because the players they had to give away were mostly role players and can be replaced with signings and draft picks in the future. Butler, Embiid, and Simmons seem to be getting along just fine and should easily make the jump to the top ten very soon as well as move towards the top of the Eastern Conference by the end of the season.

NBA Power Rankings – End of October

Intro

With October in the books we bring you another NBA power ranking. The goal of our power ranking is to rank teams against one another based on how they are actually performing, not based on potential or star-power. We are still working on a new and improved model but for this month’s rankings we will use the same scoring-power model that was used for the pre-season rankings (Click HERE to see pre-season rankings and model).

This month, we have much better data since we are no longer relying on pre-season statistics for rookies. We also have a much better idea of player roles and how much playing time rookies and new acquisitions will be given.

MovementOctober 2018 Rankings

Some of the teams that had the biggest movement from the pre-season rankings to now include Boston (Down 19), Sacramento (Up 13), Knicks (Down 19), Portland (Up 12), Miami (Up 12), Los Angeles – LAL (Up 12), and Houston (Down 15).

Spotlights

It has been an interesting start to the NBA season to say the least. With this model, teams that score more points per game are usually much better off. This leads to some error for teams like the Celtics who are playing relatively well and just aren’t putting up the huge scoring totals that other teams have this season. On the other hand, this model shows very encouraging signs for teams like New Orleans, Sacramento and the Lakers who could end up doing well if they continue to score, and play at their current production levels.

Nuggets fans should be feeling extremely optimistic about their team this season. The Nuggets rank 19th in scoring in the league this year they have moved to the 3rd in the power ranking. If they can rank this high on a model that favors teams who score more it shows that they can compete against the best teams in the NBA. They are able to make up for their lower scoring and win games by relying on their defensive efforts and hustle stats. This is a well-rounded, cohesive team that showing no signs of slowing down.

New Orleans is another organization that has fans excited this year and with good reason. They came out of the gate hot beating Houston and dropping 149 points against Sacramento. The Pelicans are showing high scoring ability, but as the season has played out they have struggled against top level competition. They have lost to the Raptors, Nuggets, and Warriors already this year. Even though they are playing well, it looks like they still may be a season or two away from being true championship contenders.

One last team I want to comment on is the Milwaukee Bucks. The “Fear the Deer” movement is coming on strong as well as the team itself which has started the 2018-19 season with seven straight wins. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are bringing in just shy of 50 points per game and they have knocked off some pretty good competition this year (including a 15-point win over the Raptors). The next big test for the Bucks is coming up on the 8th of November where they take on the Golden State Warriors. If they do beat the Warriors, we may have to recognize the Greek Freak and his squad as a serious threat to the reigning champs.

Is Rondo a Good Fit for The Lakers?

At this point in his career, Rajon Rondo may be known more for his temper and clashes with coaches than his accomplishments. Since Rondo was traded to the Mavericks in December of 2014, it has been a bumpy road. Even when he puts up respectable stat lines he can’t seem to find a long-term home. This season, Rondo finds himself as a Los Angeles Laker, his fifth team in five seasons.

When it comes to basketball IQ and ability, Rondo is no slouch. He has made a career off of dazzling passes and deceptive moves around the rim. As a result, he has led the NBA in assists three times (2011-12, 2012-13, and 2015-16), is a four-time NBA All-Star, and was the starting point guard of the 2007-08 champion Boston Celtics.

Rondo's Hustle Stats - ChartRondo's Shooting - Chart

It’s hard to imagine that a player with these accolades would have any trouble finding a long-term contract. Unfortunately, Rondo’s attitude and issues with teammates and coaches have become expected and seem to impact his performance. Drama reached its peak for Rondo when he played in Dallas and Chicago where he regularly butted heads with teammates and coaches. This is also when we see Rondo’s numbers take a dip.

It would be easy to say that Rondo’s performance issues were exclusively a result of his bad attitude. The only problem with that is even in Sacramento, where Rondo referred to the locker room as tense and called his teammates a bunch of bums, he performed relatively well. I believe that the explanation that shows why Rondo played well in Sacramento is revealing of what causes him to be successful in general. Rondo needs to be surrounded by talented teammates to produce at his highest level. His best seasons were when he was paired with the Boston Big Three and in Sacramento with DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, and Darren Collison.

This might make you question why Rondo didn’t put up better numbers in Dallas when he was paired with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. The answer stems from the issues between him and Head Coach Rick Carslile. Rondo saw inconsistent playing time and averaged less than 30 minutes per game for the first time since his second year in the league (2007-08 where he averaged 29.9 MPG). He was on a team and in an environment that didn’t give him the playing time or support he needed to succeed. Rondo saw similar issues with playing time in Chicago when he was benched for an extended period of time and regularly fought with veterans Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler.

Looking back at Rondo’s stats tells an interesting story. Though Rondo’s worst seasons seem to come when there was the most drama he has proven that he can still perform at a high level when given the opportunity. He led the league in assists when he played in Sacramento and posted respectful numbers in limited minutes as a Pelican.

To determine whether or not Rondo is a good fit for the Lakers we need to look at the environment he would be in as well as the players around him. Head Coach Luke Walton was hired when the Lakers were dealing with the aftermath of the issues between D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young. Long story short, he should have an idea on how to deal with locker room drama. If Walton isn’t enough to keep Rondo’s attitude in check, maybe LeBron James, the likely team leader, will have the respect of the former All-Star and ability to keep him in line.

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers
Rajon Rondo Bringing the ball up the court; Photo Credit to thesportsdaily.com

As far as the roster goes, there may not be a dominant big-man like in Rondo’s previous successful seasons, but there is no lack of talent. Players like Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have demonstrated the ability to score and stretch the floor leaving space for Rondo to drive the paint where he is most effective scoring. Rondo should have plenty of targets for his dazzling dimes.

It seems the only barrier to success for Rondo will be how the Lakers decide to split minutes among guards. With up and coming talents like Lonzo ball, Josh Hart, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it may be hard for Rondo to earn the minutes he would need for a chance to return to All-Star production. Even though the Lakers will likely be able to handle Rondo’s attitude, it seems that Rondo will not be a part of the Lakers long-term plans. In my opinion, once Ball is able to return to his regular workload, Rondo will see limited minutes (under 30 per game) to allow for the development of younger prospects and will serve more as a veteran with experience to offer.