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.
There are only two remaining teams in the NBA who have not clinched or been eliminated from playoff contention: Phoenix and Utah. Utah is currently sitting in as the No. 8 seed, one game ahead of the Suns. A Utah win tonight means a playoff berth, but if Phoenix wins, they will overtake Utah as the likely No. 8 seed based on a head-to-head tiebreaker (Phoenix would be 3-0 vs Utah on the year). If that occurs, Utah would need to beat the Blazers on Thursday AND need the Suns to lose to a San Antonio team that will likely rest all of their aging stars. All told, Utah has about a 75% chance of making the playoffs, while Phoenix sits at just above 25%.
The Charlotte Bobcats have now lost 21 straight games and are winless in the month of April. In the past week alone, they have lost by 20+ points to both the Kings and Wizards, two teams very near the bottom of the League. Charlotte has remaining games against Orlando and New York, and will likely lose both, becoming the worst team in the history of the NBA in terms of winning percentage. Based on their total level of efficiency, Charlotte currently owns the worst NERD ranking in history at 4.9—down 3.1 points since last week.
Last, look out for the Spurs—who have clinched home court in the West and have won 8 straight games over the last two weeks by at least 10 points. Over that time period, they have increased their NERD by 5.5 and chances of winning the NBA Title by just under 10%.
The NERD power rankings are powered by numberFire, a sports analytics platform that uses algorithmic modeling to better understand sports. Follow Nik Bonaddio at @numberfire, and Keith Goldner at @drivebyfootball. Check out numberFire on Facebook.