By Nate Weitzer
The NBA is heading down the final stretch with about five weeks left in the regular season. TheLines’ updated power rankings will give you a look at which teams’ arrow is pointed up, and which are headed downward over the final stretch of regular season play.
These rankings have kept you informed on the league’s changing landscape throughout the season, and will help you identify value and place the right bets during the second half of the 2019-2020 season.
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 calculated 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 NBA finals 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 20 edition of our power rankings.
NBA Power Rankings 2020
1. Milwaukee Bucks
While they stumbled on the road at the Lakers and dropped two more road games without Giannis, the Bucks still have the strongest case as the top team in the NBA over a larger sample size. They’re first in rebounding, defensive rating, and PPG (119) with the reigning MVP and an historic PPG differential.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
It was quite a week for the Lakers and LeBron, who suddenly jumped from +900 to +120 in the MVP Futures market with dominant performances against Giannis and Kawhi Leonard in a three-day span. The Lakers (+275) are still behind the Bucks (+225) as title favorites, but are a league-best 8-1 since the ASB despite playing some elite opponents.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers dismantling of the small-ball Rockets looks less impressive after the Hornets and Magic also took Houston behind the tool shed. While this team leads the league with a +9.9 net rating since the ASB, the Clips still seem to be waiting to hit that next gear before the postseason.
4. Toronto Raptors
Norman Powell was averaging 29.5 PPG with a 129 offensive rating over four games to spark the Raptors, and even after he went down with an ankle sprain, Toronto got the job done with a 101-92 win in Utah Monday night. The defending champs continue to chug along in spite of all their bad luck.
5. Miami Heat
Miami did what no other team has been able to do this year in dominating the Bucks and containing Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bam Adebayo is a leading candidate for Most Improved Player and is an incredible defensive weapon for Eric Spoelstra to deploy.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Doubt the Thunder at your own peril. Chris Paul leads the best clutch time offense in the league and Steven Adams has helped the Thunder post the second-best defensive rating (94.1) down the stretch of games within 5 points or less.
7. Dallas Mavericks
When everyone is available, the Mavericks are dominating. They dropped a dud in Chicago without Kristaps Porzingis last week and lost to Indy with Seth Curry and Dorian Finney-Smith out, but are quickly becoming a team to back with hefty wagers when they’re at full strength.
8. Boston Celtics
Re-integrating Kemba Walker (knee) into a crunch time offense that ran through Jayson Tatum throughout February is going to take some time. The Celtics will hope that the new pecking order is to blame for rare home losses to the Jazz and Thunder.
9. Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic proved just how indispensable his production is to this team on Saturday when he scored just 8 points and the Nuggets subsequently fell, 104-102, to the lowly Cavs. That follows a dicey win over Charlotte and a home loss to Golden State as the Nuggets continue to search for their long lost defensive identity.
10. Utah Jazz
Utah appeared to turn things around with five straight wins, although only one came against a playoff team. The Jazz couldn’t beat the Raptors at home and could continue to sputter against good teams with the Thunder, Grizzlies, and Pelicans on tap.
ALSO READ: NBA Futures Odds 2020
11. Indiana Pacers
Everything they did wrong before the break, the Pacers seem to have corrected. They’re 5-0 with a league-best 62.9 net rating in clutch time since the ASB, yet they’ve still been unable to solve the Raptors or Bucks.
12. Houston Rockets
When the shots are falling, “Micro-ball” looks like an innovative strategy that could lift Houston to surprising postseason success. But when they’re cold from the perimeter, the Rockets have been exposed by bad teams like the Knicks, Hornets, and Magic.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Zion and the Pelicans continue to battle through a schedule that never seems to get easier. After a B2B against the Jazz and Clippers this weekend, they finally get into a soft stretch where they can hit the gas in pursuit of a playoff berth.
14. Philadelphia 76ers
It’s no coincidence that the Sixers have a league-worst 123.6 defensive rating with Joel Embiid (shoulder) out this month. They’re 2-3 over their last five and seemed destined to enter the playoffs as a wilting No. 6 seed.
15. Sacramento Kings
Sacramento has won 10 straight games against teams with records of .500 or below and twice defeated the Clippers since late January. The Kings are four games out of the playoffs and have a critical matchup with the Pelicans Wednesday.
16. Memphis Grizzlies
While the Grizzlies lead the NBA with a 16.4 net rating over their last 5 games, they were crushed in Dallas during their one loss in that span. They’re a rough 8-24 against teams with winning records, so their numbers are inflated by running over poor competition.
17. Brooklyn Nets
What is this organization doing firing Kenny Atkinson after his team pulled off a 21-point comeback in Boston and dropped 139 points in a win over the Spurs? It appears they’re setting the table for next year and looking for a coach to please KD and Kyrie.
18. Phoenix Suns
Just when they were counted out with Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee) done for the season and Deandre Ayton (ankle) injured, the Suns offense has caught fire with a 117.2 rating over their last 5 outings. Of course, their defense is still struggling.
19. Portland Blazers
Damian Lillard may have rushed back from a groin injury out of necessity, but he’s not playing at his usual superstar level and the Blazers were thus unable to secure key wins against the Suns and Kings over the weekend.
20. Orlando Magic
The Magic has overcome a defensive downswing by improving offensively, yet they’re still only 3-3 despite posting the best offensive rating (119) in the league over their last 6 games.
21. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs just can’t get timely stops with a rough 129.8 defensive rating in clutch time since the start of February. Those late-game struggles led to an uncharacteristic loss at Cleveland Sunday, potentially spelling the end of their 22-year streak in the playoffs.
22. Golden State Warriors
The return of Steph Curry (hand) has injected some life into the Warriors and the previously quiet new Chase Center. He didn’t even play on Saturday and his teammates rallied for a 118-114 win over the Sixers.
23. Cleveland Cavaliers
Collin Sexton is averaging 28.2 PPG over his last 7 outings and Kevin Love has helped the Cavs engineer a few impressive comebacks during that span.
24. Washington Wizards
Washington has been feisty against teams with winning records, but is still 6-20 in those games. For betting purposes, it’s worth noting that the Wizards are 6-3 ATS over their last 9 home games.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves
Is D’Angelo Russel a true No. 1 option? The Magic and Pelicans were able to contain him rather effectively in meetings last week and the Wolves had no answers with Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) out.
26. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks were pounded over a 4-game span with a pair of two humiliating defeats at the hands of the Grizzlies, resulting in a league-worst net rating (-11.1). But they got some home cooking and pulled out a 2OT thriller over the Hornets Monday night.
27. Charlotte Hornets
Would anyone guess that the Hornets have the third-best offensive rating in clutch time? They’ve gone down to the wire in each of their last 6 games, and even managed to beat the Raptors and Rockets during that span.
28. New York Knicks
Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett are forming a potent scoring tandem and Elfrid Payton is facilitating well enough to get them the ball in good positions. But they still have a -20 clutch net rating since the ASB.
29. Chicago Bulls
Without Zach LaVine (quad), the Bulls have been sitting ducks. Even with LaVine available at times, the Bulls have a putrid -41 clutch net rating and a 2-12 record since the start of February.
30. Detroit Pistons
While they twice beat the Suns over their last 14 games, the Pistons are 2-12 otherwise with a -7.5 net rating during that span.
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.
Read more on beginner NBA betting strategies here: