2015 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings

chris-paul-clippersThe NBA Playoffs are here and the second season is about to begin. This means an exciting time for NBA bettors who love the intense action and heightened stakes that the postseason brings. Assuming you are looking to do some betting on the 2015 NBA Playoffs, you might be wondering exactly which teams are for real at this point, and which ones are pretenders who merely had a good regular season. That said, let’s take a look at the power rankings for the opening round.

1. Golden State Warriors (67-15, West No. 1) – With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, everybody knows that the Warriors can shoot the ball. But did you know that they also finished first in defense per 100 possessions? Pretty tough team to beat on either end of the floor.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29, East No. 2) – The Cavs are in a very good position to win the East after finishing the regular season 34-9 over the final 43 contests. It’s not just LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but also J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov who make this club extremely good.

3. LA Clippers (56-26, West No. 3) – If there’s one team that can compete with Golden State in terms of elite talent, it’s definitely the Clippers. But are Chris Paul and Blake Griffin finally ready to make a serious playoff run?

al-horford4. Atlanta Hawks (60-22, East No. 1) – On paper, Atlanta and their four All-Stars seem to be for real. But now’s their chance to prove it to those who question the East’s top seed.

5. San Antonio Spurs (55-27, West No. 6) – The Spurs certainly can’t be counted out since they’re the defending champions and still have their core intact. But they could easily be bounced by LA in the first round if another year of aging is too much.

6. Houston Rockets (55-27, West No. 2) – James Harden has done an outstanding job carrying the Rockets, in a season where Dwight only played 41 games. The question is, though, is there enough beyond Howard and Harden to constitute a championship run.

7. Chicago Bulls (50-32, East No. 3) – An improved Jimmy Butler and the addition of Pau Gasol did wonders for this team. However, injuries to Derrick Rose and a down (worn-out) year for Joakim Noah are concerns.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks8. Dallas Mavericks (50-32, West No. 7) – This is a team built for the playoffs, plain and simple, as the mid-season addition of Rajon Rondo alludes to. But a lack of depth and bad defense could make life miserable against Houston in the first round.

9. Washington Wizards (46-36, East No. 5) – The Wizards finally found some wins down the stretch, which could give them confidence. However, Washington must get over their tendency to disappear in some games.

10. Memphis Grizzlies (55-27, West No. 5) – Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have dominated inside this season. But unfortunately, the Grizzlies are dealing with injuries to Mike Conley and Tony Allen at the wrong time of the season.

11. Toronto Raptors (49-33, East No. 4) – This team can definitely hurt you on the offensive end, with dangerous options in Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams. Unfortunately, they hurt themselves on the defensive end.

damian-lillard-portland-trailblazers12. Portland Trail Blazers (51-31, West No. 4) – Limping into the playoffs on a four-game losing streak is never a good thing. It’s nice that Damian Lillard has remained healthy all season, but LaMarcus Aldridge is playing with a torn ligament in his hand while Nicolas Batum and Chris Kaman are also hurt.

13. New Orleans Pelicans (45-37, West No. 8) – The first round will give Anthony Davis a chance to showcase his immense talent on a bigger stage. Unfortunately, this team has to play the Warriors to open, which creates a grim proposition.

14. Milwaukee Bucks (41-41, East No. 6) – Milwaukee had an excellent turnaround from last year’s abomination. But a season-ending injury to Jabari Parker and a lack of experience all but guarantees this team won’t make much noise.

15. Boston Celtics (40-42, East No. 7) – Boston, like the Bucks, is a young team to watch in the upcoming years. And most didn’t even see the Celtics making the postseason this year after they got rid of Rondo and Jeff Green.

16. Brooklyn Nets (38-44, East No. 8) – It might be time to disassemble the expensive core of the Nets (when) if they lose to the Hawks.

Pelicans Betting: Is Anthony Davis the NBA’s Best Player?

anthony-davis-nba-best-playerAlthough Anthony Davis is a very talented player, few people would’ve called in the league’s best before the 2014-15 NBA season began. But now, one month into the season, we need only look at Davis’ numbers to throw him in the discussion that begins with LeBron, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and James Harden.

Considering player efficiency rating alone (PER), which measures per-minute performance, Davis is unquestionably the best – in fact, it’s not even close! Through 13 games, the New Orleans Pelicans forward has a 34.52 PER, compared to Dallas’ Brandan Wright, who ranks second with a 29.89 PER.

Of course, Wright isn’t exactly in the discussion for the top NBA player, so let’s take a look at how the aforementioned greats rank in this category:

3. Stephen Curry – 28.84 PER
5. Chris Paul – 27.70 PER
8. LeBron James – 25.12 PER

Okay, so we’ve established that nobody is better than Davis when it comes to making the most out of minutes. But as Wright shows, even unheralded players can rank high here, so let’s look at pure numbers.
anthony-davis-nba-best-player-1In this category, what Davis is doing might be even more remarkable. He’s averaging 25.4 PPG (2nd in NBA), 11.2 rebounds (7th), 2.08 steals (4th), 3.38 blocks (1st) and shooting 56.5% from the field. As ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted, if Davis can keep this up, he’ll join some pretty outstanding players:

Stein – If Anthony Davis can average 25/10/3.5 for the season, he’ll join Kareem, The Admiral, Hakeem The Dream & Patrick Ewing in an exclusive club

When the unibrow-sporting, Kentucky product came into the league, many looked at him as an ultra-talented shot blocker who was raw in other areas. Moreover, at 6’10”, 220 pounds, it was assumed that Davis would need far more mass to be effective. Well he’s put on the muscle, but his skills were already shining in his first two years. Now that Davis has begun his third NBA campaign, he’s become a superstar…at least in terms of numbers and respect around the league anyways.

What’s tough for Davis is that he plays in the crowded Western Conference on an average team. New Orleans stands at 7-6 right now, which ranks them 10th out of 15 teams in the West. As has been the case over the past few years, simply having a winning record isn’t good enough to make the Western Conference playoffs. And as long as the Pelicans stay out of the postseason picture, Davis’ talents will largely go unnoticed.

So while he’s the best player in terms of all-around numbers, the 21-year-old still needs to produce wins in order to be mentioned with the LeBron’s, Paul’s and Harden’s of the league.

This is definitely the best chance that Davis has had to win in his short career. New Orleans features a strong lineup that includes PG Jrue Holiday, SG Eric Gordon, forwards Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson, and C Omar Asik. So it’s not like they are short on talent. However, this is also a young team without anybody who’s been in serious playoff battles. So as the Pelicans improve, Davis’ legend will grow.

Dissecting the NBA All-Star Game Selections

Most of us could care less about how the NBA All-Star Game turns out. After all, this annual no-defense fest is much like the recently-released film Movie 43 – a bunch of big-time stars making cameo appearances in a tacky and shameless form of entertainment. Sure there are always a few good alley-oops and street ball moves; but does this make up for the 5-10 embarrassing mistakes that players collectively make while trying to show off?

Okay, so now that you understand our take on the All-Star Game, it’s worth mentioning that being selected to the game is definitely an honor. And the NBA recently released the list of everybody who received a nod. Of course, there were also a few deserving players who didn’t get picked for this prestigious contest. This being said, let’s take a closer look at who did and didn’t make the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.

Eastern Conference Roster

(Starters)
LeBron James F, Miami Heat – 9th appearance, 26.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.1 APG
Carmelo Anthony F, New York Knicks – 6th app., 29.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG
Kevin Garnett F, Boston Celtics – 14th app., 14.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Rajon Rondo G, Boston Celtics – 4th app., 13.7 PPG, 11.1 APG, 1.9 SPG
Dwayne Wade G, Miami Heat – 9th app., 20.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, 1.3 SPG

(Reserves)
Kyrie Irving G, Cleveland Cavaliers – 1st app., 23.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.8 SPG
Jrue Holiday G, Philadelphia 76ers – 1st app., 19.0 PPG, 9.0 APG, 1.4 SPG
Tyson Chandler C, New York Knicks – 1st app., 12.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.1 BPG
Joakim Noah C, Chicago Bulls – 1st app., 12.2 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.2 BPG
Luol Deng F, Chicago Bulls – 2nd app., 17.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Paul George F, Indiana Pacers – 1st app., 17.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG
Chris Bosh F, Miami Heat – 8th app., 17.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.4 BPG

Western Conference Roster

(Starters)
Kobe Bryant G, LA Lakers – 15th appearance, 29.2 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG
Kevin Durant F, OKC – 4th app., 29.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG
Chris Paul G, LA Clippers – 6th app., 16.6 PPG, 9.7 APG, 2.6 SPG
Dwight Howard C, LA Lakers – 7th app., 16.7 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.5 BPG
Blake Griffin F, LA Clippers – 3rd app., 18.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG

(Reserves)
Russell Westbrook G, OKC – 3rd app., 22.7 PPG, 8.1 APG, 1.9 SPG
James Harden G, Houston Rockets – 1st app., 25.8 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.9 SPG
Tim Duncan C, SAS – 14th app., 17.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.7 BPG
Tony Parker G, SAS – 5th app., 19.8 PPG, 7.8 APG, 0.9 SPG
LaMarcus Aldridge F, POR – 2nd app., 20.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG
David Lee F, Golden State – 2nd app., 19.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.7 APG
Zach Randolph F, Memphis Grizzlies – 2nd app., 16.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 0.5 BPG

Biggest 2013 All-Star Game Snubs

Looking at the list of players who were selected to this year’s All-Star contest, you can definitely see that most (if not all) of these guys deserved a spot. However, there were a few skipped-over players who could’ve made a strong case for their inclusion.

The biggest snub in the Western Conference has to be Stephen Curry, who’s truly been a complete player with 20.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 45.1% from 3-point territory. While David Lee has definitely helped the Warriors exceed expectations thus far, many believe that Curry is the true catalyst of this team. That said, it’s no wonder why Curry’s coach, Mark Jackson, was angry about Stephen not getting picked.

After Curry, it’s hard to find a true Western Conference snub, but Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka had an outside chance. Gasol does a lot of intangible things in addition to averaging 13.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.8 BPG. Ibaka has really improved his offense this season and is averaging 14.0 PPG on 56% shooting. Plus he’s chipped in his usual 8.3 RPG and 2.8 BPG.

Moving to the Eastern Conference, many people are outraged over Brook Lopez being left off the roster. Not only does the Brooklyn Nets standout average 18.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 2.1 BPG, but he also leads the East’s third-best team. Many people have speculated that coaches didn’t vote Lopez in because they didn’t like how the Nets fired coach Avery Johnson.

The Indiana Pacers’ Paul George may have earned his first All-Star selection at the expense of teammate David West. The Pacers usually go to West when they need a crucial basket, and he provides veteran leadership….along with 16.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.0 BPG.

Paul Pierce definitely deserved a reserve role on the All-Star team as well; he’s averaging 18.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.8 APG and 1.4 SPG. However, Pierce was affected by the fan vote since people stuffed the ballots for his teammates, Rajon Rando and Kevin Garnett. It’s likely that coaches didn’t think the Boston Celtics deserved three All-Star players since they’re currently 20-23 and eighth in the East.

One more player who we think could’ve earned an All-Star nod is Brandon Jennings. The Milwaukee Bucks point guard has put up 18.6 PPG, 6.0 APG and 1.93 SPG for the East’s seventh best team. However, he also shoots just 40.5% from the field, so this could have been a reason for leaving him off the squad. The same goes for his teammate, Monta Ellis (18.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 1.81 SPG), who shoots a similarly-low 40.3%.

NBA Power Rankings for January 25th, 2013

This past week wasn’t exactly the best for the NBA’s top teams. Oklahoma City is struggling on their six-game road trip, the Clippers have hit a low point, and Miami has played just one game over the past eight days. San Antonio is about the only team that’s done anything noteworthy lately, but is it enough to vault them to number one in our power rankings? Here’s a look at the answer…

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (33-10) – The Thunder have lost two out of their last three games, but it’s understandable since they’ve been on the road 10 out of the last 12 contests. Plus one of these losses was a three-point overtime game at Denver, and the other was a five-point road loss to Golden State – both solid teams. Taking all of this into account, the next few weeks should get easier for Oklahoma City and see them remain atop the standings.

2. San Antonio (34-11) – In our last NBA power rankings, the Spurs were sitting at number four. But they’ve since ascended to the second spot (almost first) following a six-game winning streak. Their best victories during this stretch include beating Memphis, Golden State, Atlanta (road) and Philadelphia (road). Tony Parker has boosted his scoring average over the past month, and is now pouring in 19.8 PPG.

3. Miami Heat (27-12) – We had Miami ranked third last week, and it’s hard to move them up after playing just one game since then – a 123-116 OT victory over Toronto. After a home game against Detroit tonight, the Heat run into a much tougher part of their schedule by going on the road against Boston, Brooklyn and Indiana. LeBron James leads this team in four categories, including points (26.5 PPG), rebounds (8.2 RPG), assists (7.1 APG) and steals (1.6 SPG).

4. LA Clippers (32-12) – The Clippers seem to win and lose in streaks since they lost four straight games earlier in the season, rattled off a 17-game win streak, and have now lost their last three contests. One of these losses was particularly bad because Los Angeles dropped a game to the Western Conference’s worst team in Phoenix. Things don’t look to get any easier either with 9 out of the next 10 games being played on the road.

5. New York Knicks (26-14) – The Knicks are busy trying to work Amar’e Stoudemire (11.3 PPG) back into the lineup. In terms of wins/losses, this hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions because New York is just 5-5 in the 10 games he’s played. Will Stoudemire’s return from injury hinder the chemistry that Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton built? It’s difficult to say for sure, but we’re convinced that a team without him can’t beat Miami in the playoffs.

6. Brooklyn Nets (26-16) – The Brooklyn surge continues as they’ve now notched wins in 10 out of the past 11 games. Brook Lopez (18.6 PPG), Joe Johnson (17.4 PPG) and Deron Williams (17.0 PPG) are quite the fearsome trio. Backup PF Reggie Evans has been a terror on the boards (8.9 RPG), despite playing only 21.9 MPG.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (27-14) – Following three straight blowout losses last week, we were particularly low on Memphis. However, they rebounded this week by winning three out of the past four games, including a thrilling OT victory over the Bulls. C Marc Gasol (13.2 PPG, 1.8 BPG) and PF Zach Randolph (16.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG) have been a tough inside duo this year.

8. Chicago Bulls (25-16) – While Chicago has won five out of their past six games, we have trouble ranking them ahead of Memphis after the Grizzlies beat them at home. But on the other hand, that loss was the third overtime contest in a row for a drained Chicago team. Derrick Rose still isn’t back from an ACL injury, but he’s expected to return very soon. He’s had more time to heal since Nate Robinson (10.6 PPG) and Kirk Hinrich (5.2 APG) have been capable replacements.

9. Golden State Warriors (26-15) – Golden State moves up a spot after winning their last three games, including back-to-back victories over the Clippers and Oklahoma City. PF David Lee has seen a small dip in his points (19.6 PPG) recently, but he did make his first All-Star game after being selected last night. Teammate Stephen Curry (20.9 PPG), on the other hand, got snubbed.

10. Indiana Pacers (26-17) – Despite falling from 6th to 10th in our power rankings, Indiana hasn’t played particularly bad. However, they’ve been pretty mediocre after going 3-3 over the past six contests. Indiana grabbed recent victories over Memphis and Houston though, which puts them pretty close to the 6th-9th teams in our book. Paul George (17.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG) was recognized for his outstanding play by being tabbed as an All-Star.

NBA Power Rankings for December 12th, 2012

Entering this NBA season, we had trouble deciding if it would be the Lakers or Oklahoma City Thunder coming out of the Western Conference. Thus far, the Thunder have held up their end of the deal by rising near the top of the West standings. The Lakers, on the other hand, are a dismal 9-13 and have dropped out of our top 10 for the first time this year. Will they be back? Who knows, but the following teams are looking like strong playoff clubs right now.

1. New York Knicks (16-5) – Little has changed from our rankings last week since New York is still on a roll. Sure the Knicks recently lost a road game to the Bulls, but they also defeated the Heat on the road just before that. And once again, this is happening with Amare Stoudemire still injured!

2. Miami Heat (14-5) – The Heat remain a fixture in our top two spots – despite losing to the league’s worst team (Washington Wizards) on December 4th. At this point, the Eastern Conference Finals are shaping up to be one heck of a battle! Of course, calling the Knicks and Heat in the Conference Finals now is a little premature.

3. San Antonio Spurs (18-4) – San Antonio checks in at number three in our rankings despite having a league-best 18-4 record. The Spurs have won 10 out of their last 11 games, but we’re going to need to see something out of them in the playoffs. Second-year PG Gary Neal is adding a nice shooting touch (36.8 3P%) for the club.

4. Oklahoma City (17-4) – We keep saying that the Thunder haven’t beat a top contender yet, but they certainly have beaten some solid teams during an eight-game win streak. For this reason, they move up one spot in our rankings this week.

5. Memphis Grizzlies (14-6) – The Grizzlies flip-flop with Oklahoma City following a loss to the Hawks at home. We don’t expect Memphis to remain stagnant here though since the top of the West should be pretty back and forth. Zach Randolph is providing some really nice all-around play with 17.6 PPG and 12.9 RPG.

6. L.A. Clippers (15-6) – Los Angeles has rebounded in a big way from a four-game losing streak at the end of November. They’ve now won eight straight games with victories over Utah, Dallas and Chicago during this span. Chris Paul is doing a good job of leading this squad with 16.2 PPG, 9.0 SPG, and 2.67 SPG.

7. Atlanta Hawks (13-6) – As mentioned before, Atlanta recently won a big game on the road against the Grizzlies. And they’ve won four out of the past five contests – with the lone blemish being a road game against the Heat. Josh Smith has stepped up his game and shooting with the loss of Joe Johnson during the offseason; Smith is averaging 17.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG and shooting 46.2% from three-point range.

8. Golden State (14-7) – It’s truly time to start taking the Warriors seriously with recent wins against the Heat and Nets. With Andrew Bogut sidelined most of the year because of an injury, PF David Lee has carried the load inside with 18.8 PPG and 11.2 RPG.

9. Chicago (11-9) – The Bulls continue to stay above water even though they won’t have Derrick Rose for most of the season. Joakim Noah (10.8 RPG) and Carlos Boozer (9.9 RPG) are controlling the boards for Chicago while Luol Deng (17.8 PPG) is leading the club in scoring.

10. Brooklyn Nets (12-9) – In recent weeks, the Nets have hovered around the 5th to 7th range in our power rankings. But that was before a five-game losing streak happened! The least we can say about this bad run is that all five losses came to good, playoff-type teams. However, if the streak continues, don’t expect the Nets to be here next week.

NBA Power Rankings for Nov. 20th, 2012

Last week the San Antonio Spurs were sitting atop our NBA power rankings. But things have changed slightly with another week past in the NBA season since a few other teams are shining just as brightly as the Spurs. The Heat, Thunder, Lakers and Grizzlies are all playing some excellent basketball right now, so let’s find out where they rank in our current top 10.

1. New York Knicks (8-1) – The Knicks finally lost a game on the road in Memphis, but they’re still playing better than any team in the league. With victories over the Heat, Spurs, Mavericks and Pacers, New York has survived a very tough early schedule. And remember that Amare Stoudemire is still out with an injury!

2. Miami Heat (8-3) – We, like just about everybody else, think the Heat still have a great chance to repeat as NBA champions – especially now that they’re back from a brutal six-game road trip. Lebron is providing a usual Lebron-like state line of 24.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 6.5 APG.

3. L.A. Clippers (8-2) – The Clippers are no longer just a young team with promise – they’re a definite title contender. Jamal Crawford still paces this team in scoring with 19.7 PPG while Chris Paul is averaging an outstanding 10.0 APG and 2.2 SPG.

4. Memphis Grizzlies (8-2) – The Grizzlies opened the year with a road loss to the Clippers,and then went on to rattle off an eight-game win streak. They’re the only team in the league to beat the Knicks, which has to count for something.

5. San Antonio (8-3) – The Spurs have struggled a bit lately after losing two out of three home games to the Knicks and Clippers. Interestingly enough, the Clippers have now won both games against the Spurs this year. Kawhi Leonard continues to provide a youthful spark for San Antonio with 10.6 PPG and 2.0 SPG.

6. L.A. Lakers (6-5) – After starting the year 1-4 and seeing former coach Mike Brown hit the road, Los Angeles has gone 5-1 – but keep in mind that this entire stretch has been at home. Dwight Howard has made a good transition to the West Coast since he’s chipping in 11.7 RPG and 2.8 BPG.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-3) – We’re still not entirely convinced that Oklahoma City can be as good as last year without James Harden. Plus they’ve yet to beat a true championship-caliber team thus far. But with Kevin Durant (24.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG), anything is possible for the Thunder.

8. Brooklyn Nets (6-3) – The Nets’ five-game winning streak finally ended against the Lakers on the road. And things don’t look to get any easier with some tough games on the horizon. But at this point, we have to say that the Nets have been quite impressive.

9. Milwaukee Bucks (6-3) – Will the Bucks be in the top 10 at year’s end? Maybe….maybe not. All we do know is that Monta Ellis (21.4 PPG) and Brandon Jennings (7.7 APG, 3.1 SPG) continue to keep this team towards the top of the East.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (7-4) – Philly makes their first appearance in our top 10 after winning six out of their last nine games. Jrue Holiday (18.6 PPG, 8.9 APG) is really starting to excel in his third season. It’ll be interesting to see how this team does when Andrew Bynum comes back from injury.