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 76ers were one of the biggest movers this past week. After winning only 2 of 10 games to end February and begin March, the Sixers rattled off 3 straight wins over the Celtics, Jazz and Knicks. While many people wrote off the Sixers initial success (including us) they have hung around for the long haul and could be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time. Doug Collins’ squad will have their work cut out for them the rest of the week as they face the Pacers on Wednesday, then the Heat and Bulls on back-to-back nights.
The Dallas Mavericks’ NERD ranking decreased by 3.3 points this past week after losing 3 straight road games. What’s worse, those road losses were to Phoenix, Sacramento and Golden State—not exactly the cream of the Western Conference crop. The Mavs are still performing in the bottom quarter of the League on offense, scoring just 101.7 points per 100 possessions. No player on the Mavs with at least 900 minutes is scoring more than 1.08 points per possession (Dirk Nowitzki’s team-high rate). Compare that to last year when Dirk was scoring 1.18 points per possession and Mr. Efficiency himself, Tyson Chandler, was scoring 1.31 points per possession.
The Knicks’ playoff odds have dropped almost 40% after losing 6 straight games. Carmelo Anthony is currently tied for his career low in offensive efficiency—he is shooting just 40 percent, 2.6% lower than he has ever shot in a single season. Along the same lines, Amar’e Stoudemire is shooting 46.1%, his worst ever (career average of 53.2%). Amar’e and Melo are scoring 1.01 and 1.02 points per possession respectively, far too low for players using the percentage of possessions they do. New York needs to do a better job of creating high percentage shots; outside of Tyson Chandler and Steve Novak (both of whom are among the League leaders in scoring efficiency) the Knicks are simply taking too many low-percentage, high-difficulty shots. If that means Melo, Amare and Jeremy Lin need to all shoot the ball less, then so be it. Otherwise, we are likely to see Coach D’Antoni without a job by the end of the season.
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.