The NBA schedule is half over and teams are-who-they-are by this point. After 40 games, strength of schedule has started to even out and a number of teams have shown us how they can deal with adversity – or not. There are teams like the Pistons that have made a change that has made a difference, but they still own their record. They just have a chance it could look a little better in April than it does now.
Pro Bball Report takes the subjective out of ranking NBA teams to determine who has been the most dominant to-date. The formula is based on wins and losses, strength of schedule, points differential, adjusts for home and way, rebounding differential and turnover differential. The end result is biased towards the best record, but that is what everyone is playing for during the regular season.
Still number one is our rankings by a significant albeit shrinking margin since December. The Warriors are the top scoring team in the Association and are winning games by the biggest margin.
The Hawks are on a role and stand well above third place in our rankings and closing in on the top ranked Warriors. Winning 13 games in a row and going 27-2 since losing to the Raptors in late November can really change a team’s fortunes.
The Mavericks just keep putting up points and winning. They don’t rebound well, but they can sure turn teams over while looking after the ball themselves.
The Grizzlies have just continued to do what they do this season – grind teams down and win. However, they don’t dominate teams on the scoreboard or on the glass and have one the lowest margins of victory (+3.8 points) among the better teams in the NBA.
Portland continues to play solid basketball. The can put up points, play solid defense and rebound. However, they have been helped by a more generous home schedule than the teams ranked above them. They’ll have to play better on the road to keep up their record.
The Rockets have been solid and playing better than expected defense. James Harden continues to lead the league in scoring at 27.1 points per game, but the Rockets average margin of victory is just +4.2 points – the same as San Antonio.
The Wizards have played the easiest schedule in the Association including 4 more home dates than road games and their +2.6 point margin of victory isn’t awe-inspiring, but they are winning the games put in front of them. It’s going to be a tougher test the rest of the way.
The Spurs are expected to fight through adversity and they have looked rather ordinary for an elite team, but that’s only because everyone has become accustomed to them being a 60-win monster. Call them the ordinary contender.
Toronto hit a bump in the road after cruising along without DeMar DeRozan for a time. However, their All-Star of last season is back and they’ll need him. The Raptors still lead the East in scoring at 106.4 points per game, but they have played 5 more home games than on the road, so there’s some tough sledding ahead.
The inconsistent Bulls are starting to feel the frustration. They rebound well, but give back that advantage with turnovers. No one is ever sure which version of the team will show up, but they haven’t played themselves out of anything yet.
Phoenix is clinging to 8th place in the West and their suspect defense is only offset by their stellar offense, however, they have a big advantage over their competition in the tight Western Conference race. They’ll play 5 more home dates than road games over the balance of the schedule and in the NBA that’s no small matter.
The Clippers are one the biggest disappointments this season. A veteran team loaded with stars, they had a front-end loaded home schedule that now leaves them with 8 more road games than home dates the rest of the way.
The Pelicans average margin of victory is basically zero. They are a .500 team that rebounds well, however, they did it with a tough road schedule and will benefit from a lot of home dates in the second half of the season if they can get their star players back from injury quickly enough.
The Thunder started the season 3-12 and had to wait for their stars to return. The team is 16-10 with Russell Westbrook and 12-5 with Kevin Durant, so there is still hope for a strong final 42 games, but will it be enough in the competitive West?
15. Bucks 21-20
The Bucks managed to turn things around this season and it shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise. Literally half of their players were on the injured list a year ago. They have held it together through a tough road schedule and will benefit from more home dates in the second half of the season.
16. Cavaliers 22-20
Chemistry issues were expected, but LeBron James missing this many games and significant midseason roster moves were not. No one really knows what to expect from this team except they’ll probably be much better or much worse than they should be based on what’s happened thus far.
17. Nuggets 18-23
The fire sale has started in Denver. Blame injuries again, but this team just hasn’t been as good as expected. It’s time for some changes.
18. Heat 18-22
The Heat have trouble scoring to go with their trouble rebounding. When both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are at 100 percent, the Heat look okay, but no one really thought that would be the norm this season.
19. Pacers 15-28
Great defense and rebounding just can’t win a team enough games when they have almost no scoring. They still have a shot at 8th place in the East though.
20. Pistons 16-26
Stan Van Gundy gave the Pistons a shot in the arm of chemistry by waiving Josh Smith and if the current run continues, they will claim a playoff spot – if.
21. Hornets 17-25
Another team that can claim to be in the race for 8th in the East, if everyone comes back healthy and some other team doesn’t step up to claim it.
22. Nets 17-24
The Nets are in 8th place in the East, but every big contract on the team is available for future-oriented assets (or maybe just a salary dump). They can’t score and don’t rebound well enough to be anything more than first round playoff fodder with this aging and luxury tax hamstrung roster anyway.
23. Jazz 14-27
The young Jazz have been winning a few games since the middle of December. Scoring, rebounding and turnovers remain a concern, but there are signs of improvement.
24. Kings 16-25
How can a team rebound this well, turn the ball over this often (-4.3 net turnovers, ouch), score this easily, have so many “decent” players and still not be at least a .500 team? (Don’t answer that!)
25. Magic 15-29
The Magic are developing their young players and it shows across the board, but this team plays hard.
26. Celtics 13-26
The Celtics, like the Magic, are rebuilding and their young players are progressing.
27. Lakers 12-30
The Lakers had the toughest schedule of any team in the first half of the season and this collection of talent, thrown together at the last minute, never had a chance.
28. Timberwolves 7-33
The young guys are getting to play, but they really weren’t doing any better when they had all of their veterans healthy. That Andrew Wiggins kid is looking pretty good.
29. 76ers 8-33
The 76ers are the lowest scoring team in the NBA by a substantial margin, lose games by an average of 12.7 points and somehow they still aren’t worse than the Knicks. Go figure?
30. Knicks 6-36
The Knicks jumped from a 10-game losing streak straight into a 16-game losing streak. The only question for today is, will they start a new losing streak on Wednesday or can they beat the 76ers for their second win in 2015?
All statistics used were prior to the start of action on 01-20-2015
Data sources: Basketball-Reference.com, NBA.com, ESPN.com