By Nate Weitzer
We’re past the midway point of the 2019-2020 NBA season and while the Bucks continue to rule the East, the Western Conference is wide open. The surprising Grizzlies have played their way into the playoff picture, but there are at least four other teams gunning for their spot, including a Pelicans team that finally expects Zion Williamson to debut this week.
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 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 14 edition of our power rankings.
NBA Power Rankings 2020
1. Milwaukee Bucks
With three straight road wins by 19-plus points and 6 straight wins overall, the Bucks continue to prove that their best and most consistent team in the league regardless of venue. Their defense has hit another gear with a league-best 96.5 rating over their six-game streak.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
With Anthony Davis (tailbone) out, LeBron James led the Lakers to a 5-1 record with a higher net rating (16.3) than the Bucks over 6 games. Then the Purple and Gold fell flat at Boston with Davis back in the lineup.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers offense has taken off with Paul George (hamstring) on the shelf, and his return will only help a defense that’s been lights out with the second-best rating (99) over their last 3 home games.
4. Utah Jazz
Utah’s 10-game win streak came to an end in New Orleans on Thursday night, but the Jazz got right back to what’s made them great lately and throttled the Kings and Pacers with efficient performances.
5. Denver Nuggets
Yes, they required overtime to beat the Warriors, but the Nuggets were playing without Jamal Murray (ankle), Gary Harris (abductor), or Paul Millsap (knee) in that game. Those absences have helped tap into the potential of future star Michael Porter Jr.
6. Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic is all the way back from his ugly ankle sprain and if Kristaps Porzingis can get back to full speed soon, the Mavericks could make a few statements this week with the Clippers, Blazers, Jazz, and Thunder on tap.
7. Boston Celtics
Just when we thought the Celtics were pretenders, they turn in their most complete effort in a 139-point thrashing of the Lakers excellent defense. Perhaps losing to the lowly Wizards, Pistons, and Suns over the last two weeks is only a bump in the road.
8. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are coming together like Voltron with Fred VanVleet back from a hamstring injury, Toronto dropped a 1-point game in Pascal Siakam’s return, and has dominated in four straight wins since then.
9. Miami Heat
With a -2.4 net rating and 2-4 record over their last 6 road games, the Heat remains one of the more predictable teams in the league.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
It’s truly been a grind for the Sixers without Joel Embiid (finger), but this team has shown more mental toughness of late, as indicated by a recent road win on the second half of a B2B set.
ALSO READ: NBA Futures Odds 2019-20
11. Houston Rockets
This recent skid, in which the Rockets have dropped 5 of their last 6, could serve as a turning point in their season, or simply mark the precipitous dropoff of team chemistry with an uber-talented but hardly cohesive backcourt.
12. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have proved capable of outscoring any team that takes the bait and gets into a shootout with them. Adding Zion Williamson could help them put together a more cohesive halfcourt offense and stronger interior defense as they set their sights on a playoff push.
13. Memphis Grizzlies
With the fourth-best net rating (9.5) and offensive rating (117.6) during January, it’s time to take these young Grizzlies seriously. They’re playing free, loose, and confident under the leadership of Ja Morant.
14. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs streaking offense has slowed a bit of late and they can’t stay afloat without efficient offensive performances since they’re sporting a 114.5 defensive rating over their last 5 games.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s fitting that this version of the Thunder has trumped Russell Westbrook’s Rockets in two opportunities. Oklahoma City is the antithesis of what Houston brings the table, as the Thunder look to grind out wins with solid defense and dribble penetration instead of launching threes.
16. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are 10-10 with a 0.8 net rating on the road and while they started a 5-game trip with a surprising win in Denver on Sunday, they came crashing back to earth in a blowout loss at red-hot Utah.
17. Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker is on fire again with averages of 31 PPG and 6 APG while shooting over 51% from the floor over his last 8 appearances. Deandre Ayton is finally starting to assert himself down low and the Suns have been impressive while winning 4 of their last 6.
18. Orlando Magic
After using immense energy to become the first sub-500 team to beat the Lakers this season, the Magic fizzled with a loss to the Clippers the following night and a deflating 109-95 loss to the Warriors without Draymond Green. On Monday, they got back to what they do against poor teams, and crushed Charlotte.
19. Portland Blazers
Damian Lillard is averaging 26.9 PPG with 7.7 APG and shooting over 45% from the floor over his last 10 appearances, yet the Blazers rank 18th in offensive rating and 27th in defensive rating during that span.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
Get rid of Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) miraculously decides to return to the lineup. Tenuous as relationships seem to be in Minnesota, this team is back on the right track with Robert Covington leading a solid defense and Shabazz Napier providing some stability at PG.
21. Brooklyn Nets
After “inadvertently” calling out his teammates, Kyrie Irving sat out a key MLK Day tilt against Philadelphia, then provided some ridiculous comments comparing media scrutiny surrounding him to the adversity faced by Dr. King. Sheesh.
22. Sacramento Kings
Dropping 6 straight against some of the best teams in the NBA is not a badge of shame considering the Kings kept all of those games within a reasonable margin. Although bettors should note that they only covered in one of those contests.
23. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are starting fresh with bigs like Christian Wood and Sekou Doumbouya getting consistent minutes. Derrick Rose has kept the offense humming and Detroit surprisingly owns the sixth-best net rating (7.8) over the past week.
24. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have been competent early on before fading in the second half, which has led to a discouraging 1-18 record against teams with records above .500.
25. Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young keeps the Hawks capable of pulling out stunners and they did just that with consecutive wins over the Suns and Spurs. Then their 28th-ranked scoring defense collapsed in losses to the Pistons and Raptors.
26. New York Knicks
The Knicks offense is struggling mightily with a 96.2 rating to rate worst in the league by far over their last four games. When they can hang around, though, they are dangerous with a decent 4-6 record in games decided by one possession.
27. Washington Wizards
Ian Mahimi has injected some life in Washington’s lackluster defense, but they rank 29th in offensive rating (102.1) over their last 7 contests despite Bradley Beal playing in the last 4 of those games.
28. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors’ stunning win over the Rockets on Christmas Day remains their sole victory over a team with a winning record. They’ve been a doormat lately, but could ramp up with Steph Curry (hand) rumored to return sometime after the all-star break.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are 2-9 with a league-worst -9.7 net rating this month, and they only managed 86 points against the Knicks’ 28th-rated defense on Monday.
30. Charlotte Hornets
With the second-worst defensive rating (115.6) and a -12.2 net rating over their last 7 games, it’s hardly shocking that the Hornets have gone winless during that stretch. They have managed to cover in 3 of those 7 contests.
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.