Only 14 NBA Teams Matter Now. Okay, Would You Believe 4…

Due to my situationally forced absence from all things digital (nothing horrible, just a very difficult move + personal milestone) I have had allot of time to think.  I have re-written my Pigskin Prognosticator in Python over and over again in my head. When I got back at it for real however,  I went a little sideways.

After talking to my brother for days on end about the NCAA Tournament, I was in full hoops mode.  Since the tourney was wrapping up all I had left of interest was The Association.  So I once again attempted to get some good NBA data; which seems to be more difficult than obtaining reliable football data.  While not as rich as my NFL data source, I did manage to get my virtual hands on some solid NBA team data anyway.

After I cleaned the data up, came up with a algorithm, and figured out how to normalize a column in a dataframe; I came up with a power ranking type deal.  I also came up with a percentage chance that any team would win the championship.  In my algorithm 1 is the perfect team and anything in the minus range is not a good team.

With that in mind, and figuring enough of the season has gone by to make informed declaratives, here is what I came up with:

Seventeen Good NBA Teams?

There are only 17 “good” teams in the NBA this year, with the Washington Bulle.. err..  Wizards barely making the cut at number 17 with a score of 0.004.  The Bucks and the Nuggets are the only other “good” teams without any, nare, none, no chance to win the championship.  The Heat and the Pistons are not good teams and have no chance to win anything this year…

the only 14 nba teams that matter

Right above this level comes the teams that are good and have a ( tiny ) statistical chance to win it all.  With less than half of a 1% chance the Timberwolves, Pelicans, Clippers, Pacers, and Jazz will end their seasons without a ring.  As will the Spurs, 76ers(!), and Thunder even though they have slightly better odds at winning it all.  And no, I am not saying there’s a chance…


Ranking NBA Teams

The Trailblazers and the Celtics are the first teams to have any realistic chance of winning a title this year.  While the odds are against them (add their odds together and they are still not moving up on this list…) crazier things have happened.    Which brings us to:

2018’s Most likely participants in the NBA Finals:

NBA Finals Teams


Despite the West’s overall superiority, the final four ( and in reality final 8 ) participants are equally split between conferences.   My algorithm doesn’t know that Golden State’s been bitten by the injury bug, or that Cleveland has some kind of Vulcan mind control over the Raptors…  Cold hard facts dictate that the best 2 teams this year are the Rockets and the Raptors. Further, the Rockets being close to historically good should win it all in less than 7 games.  Figure the best Michael Jordan Bulls or Larry Bird Celtics teams would rank in the 0.99x range to see just how dominant the Rockets have been this year, at least by my count.

The Full NBA April 2018 Power Rankings ( as requested… )

TripRank TeamName Champs?
0 0.984 Rockets 27.00%
1 0.927 Raptors 22.50%
2 0.917 Warriors 22.00%
3 0.717 Cavaliers 17.75%
4 0.660 Celtics 4.50%
5 0.651 Trail Blazers 3.10%
6 0.632 Thunder 1.15%
7 0.603 76ers 0.75%
8 0.594 Spurs 0.50%
9 0.479 Jazz 0.25%
10 0.460 Pacers 0.20%
11 0.441 Clippers 0.15%
12 0.251 Pelicans 0.10%
13 0.242 Timberwolves 0.05%
14 0.232 Nuggets 0.00%
15 0.118 Bucks 0.00%
16 0.004 Wizards 0.00%
17 -0.234 Heat 0.00%
18 -0.614 Pistons 0.00%


As always, post your comments below…


  1. It is refreshing to read something about the NBA outside of the B/R, twitterverse, et all. box. Original, independent, content. Who’d-a-guessed it?

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