The NBA Top 30 is our weekly post aimed on ranking the teams from best to worst with a 2016 NBA Futures minded approach. Using a combination of futures odds, standings and our own eye test we look to scout the NBA championship winner long before the Finals.
The Pistons are suddenly for real, Luke Walton is making his case to be a future head coach, the Pelicans hope to make history and the Grizzlies might be toast. We’re two weeks into the NBA season and the NBA Top 30 is taking shape. Let’s start things off with our vine to blow your mind, it’s the…
Play of the Week:
There probably won’t be a lot written about the Lakers in this space this season so we thought we’d throw them a bone with this MONSTER dunk by Julius Randle.
Stuff of the Week:
When I first dreamed up this post with the Stuff of the Week I expected it to be a place where I could put an Anthony Davis highlight each and every week. Well, he’s in the highlight this week. Not as the blocker, but as the victim. Jeremy Evans out of nowhere.
As you’ll find out below the Pelicans season has been that block in a nutshell thus far and they’ll need to make (recent) history to make a playoff run this season. Below you’ll find this week’s Top 30 with current future odds courtesy of Bovada.
NBA Top 30
1. Golden State Warriors (+300)
That whole thing about defending a championship is harder than winning it? Not true for the Golden State Warriors. Through the first seven games of the season they are already better than last year’s team.
2015-16: 7-0, +18.3 point differential, 111.3 offensive rating, 92.3 defensive rating
2014-15: 5-2, +7 point differential, 102.2 offensive rating, 94.5 defensive rating
With defending MVP Steph Curry also being even better than he was last season. It’s crazy early, but he’s currently leading the league in points per game at 35.5 with 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds per to go along with it. Back to back MVPs?
With coach Steve Kerr out until the All-Star break, you have to give credit to the coaching staff. Luke Walton has done a fantastic job as interim head coach and Ron Adams continues to be one of the very best defensive coaches in the league.
This is the favorite to win the 2016 NBA championship and I don’t think it’s as close as people think. As we said last week, this team is ready for a repeat.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers +300
They’ve gelled into much more of a system team thus far this year and are getting contributions all around. The Lebron show is always there if they need it, but they haven’t thus far. The near 20-20 game from Kevin Love isn’t getting nearly enough press as that’s something he hasn’t done since his Minnesota days. If that’s the Kevin Love we’re getting this season then we could have a very fun Finals on our hands.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder +750
Down a spot since last week, but that’s more about Cleveland than the Thunder as they would still have to go through Golden State to get there. The three game losing streak they had last week didn’t worry me, but the Enes Kanter experiment does. He’s a great offensive player, but when he’s on defense they are playing a man short. You can do that kind of thing with a wing player, but it is far more dangerous to do it with a center.
4. San Antonio Spurs +500
They haven’t looked especially dangerous thus far in the season, but we expected that. Not only did they add LaMarcus Aldrige, but they turned over a large portion of their bench as well and these things just take time. This is a place where I’m not putting too much into early season performances because the Spurs find a way. Always.
5. Los Angeles Clippers +900
They hung tough with the Warriors in a loss last week, but that is why they are here. They can hang with the Warriors and if things broke right for them might be able to beat them in a seven game series. They’d be underdogs, but they could hang and that’s what keeps them in the top five.
6. Houston Rockets +1600
We should just call the 3-6 spots “teams that might meet the Warriors in the Western Conference finals and therefore have a chance”. The Rockets have won four straight including wins over the Thunder and the Clippers so they deserve to be in the mix. Watch this team because I could see them climbing in the next few weeks. Healthy Dwight > everything else.
7. Atlanta Hawks +3300
After the loss on opening night to the Pistons and the loss of DeMarre Carroll we thought that the Hawks might not be the same juggernaut we saw last season. Nope, sorry. We were wrong and they’ve won seven straight. These guys play hard and play well together. They have a +5.6 point per game differential on the season and that is definitely sustainable for this squad. They’ll be a top seed in the East and that always puts you in position to contend.
8. Chicago Bulls +1200
9. Miami Heat +2800
10. Toronto Raptors +3300
11. Detroit Pistons +6600
12. Washington Wizards +4000
Dropping the Bulls back into the “if something happens to Lebron” division because their defense just hasn’t been there. We knew that starting Mirotic and Gasol together would have this effect, but allowing 101.4 per game while only scoring 100 is not a good sign for the future and not very Bulls-like.
I am drinking the Pistons Kool-Aid right now. Last night Andre Drummond had a 29 point, 27 rebound game and Reggie Jackson scored 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Pistons to a 120-103 win and a 7-1 record. Drummond is ready now and Stan Van Gundy is probably going to win Executive of the Year and Coach of the Year. Holy crap. Could you see this team upsetting the Hawks in a round two match-up? I could.
If you want to make a crazy futures bet head over to 5Dimes and grab the Pistons at +10000.
13. Utah Jazz +10000
14. Portland Trailblazers +20000
15. Phoenix Suns +20000
I think at least two of these teams are making the playoffs and possibly all three. Some crazy stuff would have to happen for them to do anything with that, but you have to be at the dance to have a chance.
16. Milwaukee Bucks +10000
Just on the outside of that second tier-East group. They could make a move forward if they continue to play like they have during this four game win streak. The leap Giannis has made thus far this season has been huge and if Jabari Parker plays like the guy they thought they were getting #2 in the draft then this could be another major sleeper in the East. With their length on defense I could see them frustrating the hell out of the Cavaliers.
17. Boston Celtics +7500
18. Indiana Pacers +7500
19. Orlando Magic +30000
20. New York Knicks +10000
If things break right one of these teams might be able to steal an eight seed in the East, but they’ll probably just end up being tough wins.
21. Memphis Grizzlies +4000
22. New Orleans Pelicans +7500
The All-Disappointing Bracket. The Grizzlies, known for their grit and grind, currently have a -10.9 point differential and are allowing over 100 points per game. The defense is gone and the shooting was never there. If things don’t turn around quickly this could be a very bad year for Memphis.
As for the Pelicans, they are 0-6. The injury gods have been very, very, very unkind to them, but that is still their record. I still like this team a lot (when healthy) and think they have a great coach, but….
No team has recovered from an 0-4 start to make NBA playoffs in the heartless West since 67-win Mavs in 2006-07. Injury-ravaged Pels now 0-6
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 9, 2015
Last 0-6 team to make the NBA playoffs in the West: Phoenix in 1996-97. Last 0-6 team to make the NBA playoffs period: Chicago in 2004-05
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 9, 2015
It’s hard to see where they fit in the playoff picture. Injuries suck.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves +7500
24. Charlotte Hornets +25000
25. Dallas Mavericks +10000
26. Denver Nuggets +25000
27. Sacramento Kings +15000
28. Los Angeles Lakers +25000
29. Philadelphia 76ers +100000
30. Brooklyn Nets +50000