By Nate Weitzer
Even by the league’s lofty standards, this summer’s NBA offseason provided a ton of drama. Superstars Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, and Russell Westbrook all changed teams to give the league a huge shakeup and change the way bettors need to evaluate NBA teams.
In an effort to keep you informed on the league’s changing landscape, TheLines will provide weekly NBA Power Rankings to help you identify value and place the right bets throughout the season.
These Power Rankings look beyond records by analyzing the actual long-term potential of each team to win an NBA championship. In addition to providing a useful index for seasonal, Daily Fantasy Basketball, or for placing bets on sportsbooks, these rankings can assist with placing NBA futures bets on certain teams to win a division, a conference, or the 2019-2020 NBA title.
Prior to the season, we’re calculating these rankings based on roster construction, potential chemistry, coaching, and intangible factors that may or may not motivate players to perform at a higher level. The futures odds and team win totals set by sportsbooks for teams also serve as a very useful guide in determining these rankings.
As the season progresses, we will incorporate more analytics to dive deeper into the actual performance and potential of each team. Odds will change on sportsbooks and injuries are bound to play a huge factor in the NBA season, so stay tuned for updates each week.
Here’s the Week 4 edition of our power rankings, along with a look at current NBA futures odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.
NBA Power Rankings 2019-20
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Paul George (shoulders) is expected to return this week and provide the Clippers with a truly dynamic two-way tandem. Kawhi Leonard’s load management regime might keep them from earning the number one seed, but it will be tough to beat the Clips in a seven-game series regardless of venue.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Defense has carried the Lakers early in the season, but the offense has sputtered, leading to a near loss in Chicago and a home loss to Toronto to end the week. Rajon Rondo (calf) might be able to help a star-studded offense become more efficient.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Entering Week 4 the Bucks led the NBA with a 12.63 Simple Rating System to indicate the difficulty of their early-season schedule. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to dominate with ruthless efficiency and Milwaukee ranks eighth overall in defensive rating.
4. Houston Rockets
While their three-game win streak has come against very lackluster competition, the Rockets seem to have figured some things out defensively and are getting more consistent shooting from James Harden and Eric Gordon.
5. Utah Jazz
Utah ranked fourth in net rating (8.6) after quality wins over the visiting 76ers and Bucks over the past week. Both games came down to the wire and should help the new-look Jazz determine roles in crunch time.
6. Denver Nuggets
After a couple puzzling early-season losses, the Nuggets appear to have righted the ship. They’ve been far from dominant, but coming back to beat the Sixers and Wolves shows that this team is mentally tough.
7. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers stopped a three-game skid with some home cooking against the Hornets on Sunday. Two of those losses came with Joel Embiid suspended, so the Sixers should be just fine if their big man stays healthy.
8. Boston Celtics
Losing Gordon Hayward (fractured hand) for the next few months will hurt, but this Celtics team is so deep and talented that they should be able to stay the course. Their roster seems to be a perfect fit in today’s small ball NBA.
9. Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry (thumb) and Serge Ibaka (ankle) will each miss a good chunk of time, giving Toronto reserves such as Chris Boucher a chance to show what they can do. Pascal Siakam should keep the Raptors afloat in the weak Eastern Conference.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Just when the Mavericks looked like a young team ready to make a leap this year, they dropped a dud in losing to the lowly Knicks. Still, with Luka Doncic running the show, Dallas has a great chance to compete for a playoff spot in the loaded West.
ALSO READ: NBA Futures Odds 2019-20
11. Portland Blazers
Nothing has been convincing for the Blazers so far this season, including an overtime win over the Hawks on Sunday night. Yet with one of the best closers in the game in Damian Lillard, Portland is capable of winning tight games.
12. Miami Heat
After rolling the Suns in Phoenix, the Heat laid an egg at Staples Center against the rangy Lakers. Offensive efficiency has been a problem, but this athletic young squad ranks fourth in defensive rating.
13. Phoenix Suns
The Suns dropped 138 points on the Nets Sunday with Devin Booker hardly breaking a sweat en route to his 27-point line. Ricky Rubio’s presence as a true PG has helped Booker post a career-best 114 offensive rating thus far.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
The fast-paced Wolves have still been competitive without a true PG, as Jeff Teague (illness) and Shabazz Napier (hamstring) have both been out for a few games. Their absence could partially explain a surprising loss in Memphis and requiring OT to beat the G-League Warriors.
15. Indiana Pacers
After starting 0-3, the Pacers have certainly figured some things out. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon form a dangerous inside-out punch and reinforcements are coming with Victor Oladipo (quad) working towards a return.
16. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs actually have a negative net rating and couldn’t defeat the inexperienced Hawks in Atlanta. Then, San Antonio got blown out of its home arena by Boston’s superior athleticism.
17. Oklahoma City Thunder
The thing OKC does best is defend the 3-point line, and if you can do that in today’s NBA, you’ll have a chance in most games. Finding offense has been more of a challenge for Billy Donovan’s squad.
18. Brooklyn Nets
It’s fitting that a Kyrie Irving-led team is all offense and almost zero defense, leading to wildly inconsistent results.
19. Detroit Pistons
Blake Griffin (hamstring) is set to make his season debut on Monday and if Derrick Rose (hamstring) comes back strong, the Pistons offense could suddenly be very dangerous now that Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard have found their rhythm in the NBA.
20. Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta is reeling with John Collins (suspension) on the shelf. Trae Young and Jabari Parker are balling, but there are few other weapons for the Hawks offense.
21. Orlando Magic
Orlando was dead last in scoring (97.7 PPG), FG shooting (.414%), and 3PTM (72) entering the week, but Steve Clifford’s defensive scheme has kept his team competitive against top teams and allowed them to dominate the unproven Grizzlies.
22. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have won three of their last four after starting 0-5 and will get Marvin Bagley (thumb) back in a couple weeks. Luke Walton needs to continue to find ways to coach to his team’s strengths, which means pushing the pace.
23. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans can’t seem to get healthy with Lonzo Ball (abductor) hitting the shelf rather soon after Jrue Holiday got back up to speed. The good news for New Orleans is that Zion Williamson (knee) appears ahead of schedule in his rehab.
24. Charlotte Hornets
Reality is starting to hit for the young Hornets with a blowout loss to Boston followed by a late collapse against New Orleans.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland steamrolled another weak opponent with a 21-point win over the Knicks on Sunday. The Cavs pushed the Celtics to the brink last Tuesday, but aren’t really a threat to the top teams in the East.
26. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls had a -6.63 net rating entering the week and ranked dead last in defensive rebounding. Zach LaVine has been good as the rising star on this team, but not good enough to carry an underachieving frontcourt.
27. Washington Wizards
The Wizards rank 29th in defensive rating and are dead last in FTA with Bradley Beal and Isaiah Thomas leading the offense on the perimeter. That’s not a long-term recipe for success by any means.
28. Golden State Warriors
D’Angelo Russell showed that he can carry this squad in the absence of Steph Curry with 52 points in an OT loss to Minnesota last Friday. The Warriors could regain a modicum of defensive toughness when Draymond Green (thumb) gets back on the court.
29. Memphis Grizzlies
After a franchise-best night in a 137-121 win over the Wolves, the young Grizzlies came crashing back to earth with an 81-point performance against Orlando’s stingy defense.
30. New York Knicks
The Knicks have failed to top 95 points four times already this season and are still searching for any kind of consistency in the backcourt. Their 106-102 win in Dallas was a true anomaly.
How to use power rankings
When placing bets on the NBA, it’s crucial to consider factors such as travel time, home court advantage, and playoff positioning versus the rest that so many stars value. By using these rankings, or creating your own criteria for a Power Rankings system, it can be possible to evaluate the prospects of a team more thoroughly based on those factors.
Oddsmakers tend to overreact in the NBA based on the status of star players, but often underreact to trends such as a teams’ performance on back-to-back sets, or at the end of a long road trip. Read our full NBA Betting Guide for more strategies on gaining an edge against sportsbooks.
If you develop a system that helps you stay a step ahead of oddsmakers, it’s certainly possible to cash on over 50 percent of NBA bets and turn a profit. Trust your data and use our Power Rankings as a guide for identifying value on a nightly basis.