numberFire is a sports analytics platform that uses algorithmic modeling to better understand sports—and they’ve developed the numberFire Efficiency Rating Derivative (NERD) to better evaluate every team in the NBA using offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. The nerdier, the better, according to these guys. The NERD rating for teams shows complete production on both sides of the ball. The team ranking is on a scale from 0-100, with 50 as the League average. This ranking is predictive of the team’s ultimate winning percentage. For example, in the 2010-11 season, the Bulls ended with a 75.1 NERD rating—and a 75.6 win percentage. To calculate the NERD rankings we use the Four Factors, which are the factors most predictive in winning games: shooting, turnovers, rebounding, and fouls. Visit numberFire to check out a detailed explanation of the NERD stat for team efficiency and basketball efficiency stats in general.
Below are numberFire’s NBA team power rankings to this point in the year. “Playoffs” and “Champs” refer to each team’s odds of making the playoffs and winning the NBA Finals. “Off.” and “Def.” refer to the teams’ offensive and defensive ratings; these represent the points scored and allowed per 100 possessions.
Atlanta looks like a sure thing to make the Playoffs and they have won 3 straight games (albeit against the Bobcats and Pistons), making them the most improved team, increasing their NERD by 3.4 points. The Hawks do a great job limiting fouls, allowing only 0.19 free throws per field goal attempt. They do, however, need to improve offensively—where they rank just below League average scoring 104 points per 100 possessions. Unless they can score at a higher rate, they will be no competition for the likes of Miami and Chicago in the East.
The Phoenix Suns have won 4 of their last 6 and are currently the No. 9 seed in the West, just one game out of a Playoff spot. While their Playoff odds only sit at 37.6%, that number is up over 22% from last week thanks to their current run. The Suns are the No. 8 team offensively in the League thanks to Steve Nash’s continued high level of play. Nash is assisting 54.7% of all Suns’ baskets while he is on the floor, the highest assist rate in a season since John Stockton in 1990-91.