2015 NBA Power Rankings #2 – Sloppy Brilliance in San Francisco

Obviously 2 weeks is not a lot of season-  1/12 to 1/13 of the way there.  But now we have seen the teams play a few games, certainly enough for a few general trends on teams.  The ranking process is outlined here.   Going forward, with some blatant stealing from what Jonah Keri does for baseball, I’ll highlight some of the dish for a team in each tier of 10.

#2. Golden State Warriors (5-2)

If there has been one thing truly baffling about the NBA the last couple of seasons, it has been how such a collection of talented offensive guys have managed to underperform.  The Warriors, with the otherworldly talent of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and the fascinating offensive talents of Harrison Barnes, playmaking from Andre Iguodala – it feels like there is an elite offensive squad there.  Certainly we’ve seen what happens when Stephen Curry catches fire:

There is nothing more exciting, especially in Oakland, where they have the best crowd in the league.  But you look at the efficiency numbers and what you see when you slow down their breakneck pace – is actually a defensive juggernaut who squeezes out enough offense to get by.  This year’s edition so far has been no different, despite Steve Kerr being brought in partly to figure this out. (and partly to not feud with his bosses).  What is particularly amazing is HOW the Warriors are a mediocre offense.

You’d think the Warriors are loaded with shooters -and you’d be right.  This so far has actually been a really good shooting.  The Warriors make almost 50% of their shots (tops in the league), and they take and make a lot of three pointers.  (5th in attempts, 6th in make %)  They don’t get to the line a ton, but it is not terrible either – and they predictably shoot those well too.  Really, this is a pretty dynamite offense when it gets to put a shot up.  But, so far this season the Warriors are solidly the league’s worst team at creating shots for themselves.  Right now, the Warriors are creating only 81 scoring attempts per game (FGA + .44*FTA), which is not only last but 6.6 scoring attempts worse than 29th place.  Put another way, the 29th place Magic are closer to 7th in attempts than to the Warriors exalted 30th place.  The Warriors have managed this amazing trick with a combination of butterfingers and not chasing down misses.  As the Spurs showed last year, the latter can be a conscious choice, but when you aren’t hanging on to possessions too – there is very little margin for error for Golden State.  The team’s TS% is a remarkable 63.7%, and given how few scoring chances they get – it has to be good.

This is a shame, since the Warriors defensively are excellent (2nd overall so far).  They were great last year too, and they are strong across the board.  The Warriors are 5th in the league in TS% defense and 7th in shot generation defense.  The team takes the ball away a lot, and has only allowed 41.8% shooting so far.  That said, they are allowing 29.3% of opponent shot attempts to be 3s – they are defending the line at a 30.3% clip – well below the 34.7% league average.  There might be some regression there later in the season, but this is a good club.

#11. Toronto Raptors (7-1)

Considering that the Raps share the best record so far with the Blazers, it is odd for them not to be in the Top 10.  However, these rankings so early know little about schedule strength and what not (and considering that each team shares 58 of 82 games, the final result will not be all that dissimilar).  The Raptors are doing a lot of good things.  One of them is taking care of the ball.  In stark contrast to Golden State’s robust 30th place total (turnovers on 21.5% of trips down the floor), Toronto is a microscopic 11.3% turnover rate (only New Orleans is better).  The team is also shooting the ball well (10th) while getting to the line a lot.  This results in 6th best TS% and the 8th best shot generation.  To give you more perspective on the Warriors, this means that on a pace-normal basis the Raptors have been generating nearly 12 shots more per game than Golden State.

Defensively, it is more of a work in progress.  In particular the Raptors have not defended shots well.  The team ranks 20th or worse in FG and 3P defense while also fouling at an above average rate.  The only thing they have done well so far is force turnovers.

#30. Denver Nuggets (1-5)

It is weird to not type “Philadelphia 76ers” here.  The Sixers might not win a game this season!  At the same time, the Sixers have at least played a host of good defensive teams so far.  The Nuggets have no such excuse, going 1-5 against what has been a pretty easy schedule, both in terms of offenses and defenses faced.  What the Nuggets offer is some general badness – where their pace of play cannot cover up areas of weakness.  Pretty simply, despite having many of the components of the good team George Karl left behind, this is a team that has shot the ball very poorly (29th overall, dead last from 3).  Given the talent and the three point percentage, maybe there will be improvement based on regression.  Defensively though things have to pick up.  Denver plays the same hectic pace you expect in the Rockies, but there has not been a lot of effectiveness.  The FG defense is actually not terrible (19th in the league) but right now the Nuggets are 29th in FT rate and 27th in forcing turnovers.  There is a lot of fouling and not a lot of aggression.  I don’t expect them to be this bad – the talent is too good to be outright terrible – but it is hard to see a playoff team here.

Rankings through Games of 11/11/2014

Rnk Team W L Off OffSOS AdjOff Def DefSOS AdjDef RoadWt Total Pace
1 Rockets 6 1 101.13 (10) 100.38 (30) 0.74 (13) 89.9 (1) 100.43 (5) -10.53 (2) 2 13.27 95.94 (11)
2 Warriors 5 2 97.66 (17) 97.66 (7) 0.01 (15) 90.65 (2) 101.3 (2) -10.65 (1) 2 12.65 101.85 (1)
3 Blazers 5 3 102.82 (6) 98.72 (15) 4.1 (7) 94.1 (6) 99.03 (12) -4.94 (4) 0.88 9.91 94.85 (15)
4 Mavericks 5 3 107.25 (1) 97.88 (10) 9.37 (1) 103.22 (26) 100.72 (4) 2.51 (21) 1.75 8.61 93.37 (25)
5 Celtics 3 3 102.51 (7) 96.81 (3) 5.7 (5) 102.61 (25) 102.56 (1) 0.05 (14) 1.75 7.4 98.81 (3)
6 Heat 5 2 104.23 (4) 96.15 (2) 8.09 (2) 100.84 (22) 98.55 (14) 2.29 (19) 1.5 7.3 93.34 (26)
7 Kings 5 3 99.49 (13) 98.05 (11) 1.44 (12) 96.09 (9) 98.34 (15) -2.25 (9) 2.19 5.87 96.11 (10)
8 Spurs 4 3 95.62 (21) 97.05 (4) -1.44 (18) 96.05 (8) 101.28 (3) -5.23 (3) 2 5.79 94.78 (16)
9 Grizzlies 7 1 97.04 (18) 99.12 (19) -2.07 (20) 92 (3) 96.71 (24) -4.71 (5) 2.19 4.82 93.01 (28)
10 Wizards 5 2 96.64 (20) 98.76 (16) -2.12 (21) 93.58 (5) 97.53 (21) -3.95 (6) 2.5 4.33 94.76 (17)
11 Raptors 7 1 104.34 (3) 98.56 (14) 5.78 (4) 99.16 (15) 96.13 (26) 3.03 (24) 1.31 4.06 97.69 (6)
12 Bulls 6 2 103.5 (5) 100.12 (27) 3.38 (8) 97.76 (13) 95.29 (29) 2.48 (20) 1.75 2.65 94.48 (18)
13 Clippers 4 3 100.89 (11) 98.42 (12) 2.46 (9) 99.37 (16) 98.11 (19) 1.26 (18) 1 2.2 95.09 (14)
14 Timberwolves 2 4 96.73 (19) 98.5 (13) -1.76 (19) 98.16 (14) 99.66 (7) -1.5 (11) 2.33 2.07 96.14 (9)
15 Suns 4 3 98.74 (16) 100.07 (25) -1.33 (17) 97.12 (12) 99.06 (10) -1.94 (10) 1 1.61 97.16 (7)
16 Hawks 3 3 99.09 (14) 99.48 (23) -0.39 (16) 97.07 (11) 96.56 (25) 0.51 (16) 2.33 1.43 94.3 (19)
17 Nets 4 2 104.84 (2) 100.18 (28) 4.66 (6) 99.4 (17) 94.96 (30) 4.44 (26) 1.17 1.39 95.09 (13)
18 Jazz 3 5 101.75 (9) 99.36 (21) 2.39 (10) 103.54 (27) 99.42 (8) 4.12 (25) 1.75 0.02 91.4 (29)
19 Hornets 3 5 94.57 (23) 99.42 (22) -4.85 (24) 95.95 (7) 99.06 (11) -3.11 (8) 1.75 0.01 93.42 (24)
20 Bucks 4 4 92.54 (28) 97.68 (8) -5.14 (25) 92.47 (4) 95.67 (28) -3.2 (7) 1.75 -0.19 94.24 (20)
21 Pelicans 3 3 99.06 (15) 98.77 (17) 0.29 (14) 100.57 (21) 97.79 (20) 2.77 (23) 1.75 -0.73 95.67 (12)
22 Pacers 2 6 93.82 (25) 97.85 (9) -4.04 (23) 96.21 (10) 97.42 (22) -1.21 (12) 1.31 -1.52 93.21 (27)
23 Cavaliers 3 3 102.11 (8) 100.08 (26) 2.03 (11) 106.49 (29) 98.24 (17) 8.25 (29) 2.33 -3.89 93.84 (22)
24 Thunder 2 6 91.78 (29) 97.52 (6) -5.74 (27) 99.79 (19) 99.4 (9) 0.39 (15) 2.19 -3.94 93.67 (23)
25 Magic 2 6 93.04 (26) 99.35 (20) -6.31 (28) 100 (20) 100.03 (6) -0.03 (13) 2.19 -4.1 96.77 (8)
26 Lakers 1 6 100.03 (12) 93.66 (1) 6.37 (3) 110.18 (30) 95.73 (27) 14.46 (30) 1.5 -6.58 97.81 (5)
27 Pistons 2 5 93 (27) 100.36 (29) -7.35 (30) 99.52 (18) 98.26 (16) 1.25 (17) 1.5 -7.11 94.08 (21)
28 Knicks 2 6 95.39 (22) 98.91 (18) -3.52 (22) 103.57 (28) 98.19 (18) 5.39 (27) 1.75 -7.16 91 (30)
29 Sixers 0 7 90.08 (30) 97.2 (5) -7.12 (29) 101.21 (23) 98.65 (13) 2.56 (22) 1.5 -8.18 98.64 (4)
30 Nuggets 1 5 94.08 (24) 99.62 (24) -5.54 (26) 102.35 (24) 96.76 (23) 5.6 (28) 1.75 -9.38 100.4 (2)
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One thought on “2015 NBA Power Rankings #2 – Sloppy Brilliance in San Francisco

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