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.
The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a heated playoff race, and currently sit in ninth place, on the cusp of the Western Playoffs. Going back to last week’s game against the Jazz, the Rockets have lost four straight games, dropping their playoff odds by 54.8% to a mundane 36.1%. Cui Bono? The Nuggets (+22.3%), Mavericks (19.8%), and Suns (12.6%) all improved their playoff odds dramatically and the Suns are looking at over a 50% of landing a post-season bid.
The New Orleans Hornets have had a throwaway year to say the least, but they continue to play hard throughout the tail-end of the season. In fact, the Hornets increased their NERD by 3.1 points this week after winning four straight games. Granted, these wins were over the Bobcats, Kings, Jazz and Grizzlies, but NOLA was a mere 15-42 coming into last week.
We’ve already discussed how historically bad the Bobcats are, but to add insult to injury, they are the only team in the NBA scoring under 100 points per 100 possessions. The second-worst team offensively is the Wizards, who score 100.4 points per 100 possessions. So, how bad is the Bobcats offense, you ask? Not only are they scoring under 100 points per possession, they are scoring under 96 points per possession. Add in their horrendous (No. 30) 110.3 points allowed per 100 possessions and that results in an estimated point differential of -12.6 points per game. Their actual point differential? -13.3.