SI Championship Rankings: LA teams sitting pretty at the top

*Stats and team records updated through to 13th November, 2019*

Three weeks down and every NBA team has played at least eight games.

At this point in the season, we’re very much on our way to determining who this season’s good, bad and indifferent teams are.

As for our computers here at Stats Insider, they continue to feast on all available data, updating the NBA Championship Futures projections daily, with its nourishing, ‘gut-feel’ free diet providing readers with an excellent insight into how the season might play out.

Let's check in on all 30 teams to see how each is shaping up.

LA CLIPPERS

NBA Championship Win: 23.8% 

The bookmakers' - and Stats Insider's - favourites to win it all, the Los Angeles Clippers have burst out of the gates with a 7-3 start while also playing the league’s third hardest schedule to date. Once again, the Clippers bench - led by the likes of Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams is leading the way, averaging a league-high 51.1 points per game (ppg), while two-time NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, has eased into life in the City of Angels brilliantly, with his team 7-1 when their star is in the lineup. We wait with bated breath to see what impact the Clippers' other star addition - Paul George - has on performances when he joins the roster in the coming days.

LA LAKERS

NBA Championship Win: 20.2%

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their first game of the season to the rival Clippers, and responded by reeling off seven victories in a row. In that time, they established themselves as the league’s pre-eminent defense, conceding just 98.1 points per 100 possessions. To prove that it’s not all about the Anthony Davis - LeBron James tandem, the Lakers bench is outscoring opponents by 2.1ppg, which is the second-best bench points differential in the league behind the Dallas Mavericks (+5.8).

RELATED: Is It Championship Or Bust For The LA Lakers?

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

NBA Championship Win: 16.9%

6-3 to start the season - and in the top ten for both offense and defense - the Milwaukee Bucks already boast road wins against both the Houston Rockets and the Clippers. Reigning NBA MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, appears to have not missed a beat in the new season, already averaging 29.7ppg and 14.3 rebounds per game (rpg).

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

NBA Championship Win: 9.5%

The Philadelphia 76ers jumped out to a five-game consecutive winning start in 2019-20, however, their recent trip West wasn’t as fruitful, dropping three games with star point guard, Ben Simmons, suffering an injury scare. The 76ers do look Championship-worthy, though, generating 51.6 points in the paint on a nightly basis, with 62.9% of their made field goals (fgm) arriving courtesy of an assist, which is the fourth-best in the NBA, and testament not just to Simmons, but the team-first approach which pervades the organisation.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

NBA Championship Win: 6.5%

The league’s fastest-paced team who is still putting up threes at the NBA’s most frequent rate. Unfortunately, it is also a team plagued by dismal defense, giving up an incredible 118.4 ppg, which is a number only three teams are currently fairing worse in. In addition, the Houston Rockets are surrendering the three-ball at 36.8% which is the eighth-worst mark in the league.

UTAH JAZZ

NBA Championship Win: 3.7%

The Utah Jazz represent the complete opposite of Houston, running their offense at a snail-like 98.9 possessions per 48 minutes while playing host to an offense which is ranked #23 in the league. Utah’s excellent 7-3 start, however, has been driven by its menacing defense, which ranks second in the NBA, and, who - thanks to the presence of two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert - is allowing just 21.9% of their opposition field goal attempts (fga) to take place at the rim.

DENVER NUGGETS

NBA Championship Win: 3.6%

Even with MVP hopeful, Nikola Jokic, down on his projected production, the Denver Nuggets are thriving, out to a 7-2 start which is the best record in the Western Conference, fuelled by outstanding defensive play. Nuggets opponents are generating just 15.1 ppg off Denver turnovers which is the 4th strongest mark in the league, and a big tick to how locked in Denver’s transition defense is in 2019.  

BOSTON CELTICS

NBA Championship Win: 2.8%

The Boston Celtics incredible 8-1 start to the season has been dampened somewhat with the broken hand to star swingman, Gordon Hayward, who is expected to miss up to six weeks of action. With Hayward in the lineup, the Celtics are the only team in the league ranked in both the top five in offense and defense, which has helped them to a +9.4 point differential per 100 possession, which is easily the league’s best.

TORONTO RAPTORS

NBA Championship Win: 2.1%

Making up for the loss of Kawhi Leonard was never going to be easy for the NBA's defending champions, however, their excellent 7-3 start might suggest otherwise. The Raptors are ranked in the league's top ten on both offense and defense, with so many of their young stars such as Pascal Siakam, Fred Van Vleet and OG Anunoby thriving. The Raptors lead the league for fast-break points generating 22.7ppg.  

PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS

NBA Championship Win: 1.6%

The reliance on the mercurial talents of four-time All-Star, Damian Lillard, continues to be a problem for the Portland Trailblazers as they’ve jumped out to an underwhelming 4-6 start to the season. Most concerning is that just 41.3% of Portland’s field goals made are arriving via assist, which is quite easily the league’s worst mark, and a general indictment on how little the ball is moving around on offense.

INDIANA PACERS

NBA Championship Win: 1.3%

The early season absence of two-time All-Star, Victor Oladipo, and and ankle injury to Myles Turner, hasn’t seemed to have affected the Indiana Pacers who have jumped out to a 6-4 start and find themselves just a game adrift of the Bucks in the Central Division. Third-year forward, Domantas Sabonis, looks to be in All-Star form, while new recruit, Malcolm Brogdon, has electrified the Pacers' offense, with both players contributing 20 ppg - the latter also averaging nine assists (apg). It’s been four straight seasons of playoff basketball for the Pacers, with a fifth looking very likely at this stage.

BROOKLYN NETS

NBA Championship Win: 1.0%

It’s the Kyrie Irving show for the Brooklyn Nets, with the former Cavalier averaging 30 ppg and boasting an outrageous 33.2% usage rate. Unfortunately, the Irving show has only propelled the Nets to a 4-6 record, which already has Brooklyn set for a season-long scrap to secure a playoff spot.

MIAMI HEAT

NBA Championship Win: 1.0%

Coach Erik Spoelstra has fashioned a 6-3 start out of a confounding roster, led by the likes of Bam Adebayo’s breakout season, in addition to the seamless introduction of Jimmy Butler into the lineup. Through nine games, the Miami Heat have the league’s fourth-best defense, while causing turnovers on 16% of opposition possessions, the second-best mark in the league.

READ: How the Miami Heat have scorched back into NBA competitiveness

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

NBA Championship Win: 1.0%

The San Antonio Spurs have lost five of their last seven, while their defense is ranked a very un-Spurs-like #19 in the league. To make matters worse, six of their next seven games are on the road, meaning it’s going to be uphill skiing if this incredible franchise is to keep their 22-season streak of playoff basketball alive.

DALLAS MAVERICKS

NBA Championship Win: 0.8%

The league’s most efficient offense has looked superb, jumping out to a 6-4 start with the Dallas Mavericks faithful hoping that this is the season that ends their three-season playoff drought. Luka Doncic has already emerged as one of the league’s very best, and thrust himself into the MVP conversation, averaging 27.7 ppg to go along with 10.8 rpg and 9.1 apg.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

NBA Championship Win: 0.7%

Not many were thinking the Golden State Warriors would lose nine of their first eleven games but it’s entirely understandable considering not just the roster turnover, but also injuries to the likes of Klay Thompsonand Steph Curry, who have both been instrumental in the Dubs contesting the last five NBA Finals. Without familiar faces, the Warriors have the league’s very worst defense, conceding an incredible 117.3 points per 100 possessions.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

NBA Championship Win: 0.5%

The pre-season injury to #1 NBA Draft pick, Zion Williamson, drained all the excitement which had been bubbling in the Big Easy, and helps explain the 2-8 start to the season. One massive positive for the New Orleans Pelicansin 2019 has been the breakout campaign of former LA Laker, Brandon Ingram, who came over in the Anthony Davis trade. Through ten games, he’s averaging 25.9 ppg, while hitting the three-ball at a brilliant 46.9%.

DETROIT PISTONS

NBA Championship Win: 0.4%

Another season of delirious Andre Drummond statistical production, but yet another season of sub .500 basketball in Motown. While Drummond is averaging 21 ppg along with a staggering 18 rebounds, it’s simply much been a one-man show from the Detroit Pistons with Blake Griffin’s return from injury hopefully set to take some of the pressure off their big centre’s shoulders.

ORLANDO MAGIC

NBA Championship Win: 0.4%

Last season the Orlando Magic broke a six-season playoff hiatus, however, look to be right back to their middling ways with their 3-7 start representing one of the disappointments of the new season. Steve Clifford’s team has the second-worst offence in the NBA behind only the Knicks while employing the league’s slowest pace of play which is confounding considering the athleticism and speed on this roster.

PHOENIX SUNS

NBA Championship Win: 0.4%

The Phoenix Suns have been the NBA’s biggest surprise to date, jumping out to a 6-3 start under new coach, Monty Williams, with this long-suffering franchise possibly about to end their nine-season playoff drought. Phoenix are doing an excellent job sharing the ball around, with 67.1% of their made field goals arriving via an assist, which is quite easily the best mark in the league. They ranked #17 last season in this statistic at only 59.5%.

RELATED: Booker and Baynes, the driving forces behind the Suns' hot start

SACRAMENTO KINGS

NBA Championship Win: 0.4%

The Sacramento Kings were remarkably in playoff contention for much of last season. With their young and emerging roster, and guided by new coach, Luke Walton, big things were expected this season. Instead, they remain the same old Sacramento. Out to a 3-7 start, owners of the fourth-worst defense in the league, and turning it over at a top ten rate means their playoff drought seems likely to extend to 14 seasons.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

NBA Championship Win: 0.3%

With both Paul George and Russell Westbrook leaving in the offseason, very little was expected of the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, however they’ve started 4-6 with 21-year old - and future franchise cornerstone - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, leading the way with 21 ppg and hitting the three-ball at 40.9%. Having the esteemed Chris Paul run the point has taken so much pressure off ‘SGA’ which has allowed him to flourish.

CHICAGO BULLS

NBA Championship Win: 0.2%

One thing the Chicago Bulls are doing really well this season is protecting the ball, while also ripping it away from the opposition, with 16.8% of possessions resulting in a turnover - the best mark in the league. Something the Bulls aren't doing, however, is winning, with their 3-7 start to the season made worse by the fact they’ve actually played the league’s fifth easiest schedule to date.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

NBA Championship Win: 0.2%

They started the season brilliantly, out to a 6-4 start, playing a menacing brand of defense, causing turnovers at the league’s fifth-best rate. Under new General Manager, Gersson Rosas, as well as new head coach, Ryan Saunders, the Minnesota Timberwolves are transitioning into a Houston Rockets-like team, playing at the league's 4th fastest pace while also launching the three-ball with the league’s 4th most frequency.

ATLANTA HAWKS

NBA Championship Win: 0.2%

The league’s youngest team, while extremely promising, is still one that has yet to find a consistent recipe for winning, with the Atlanta Hawks task made even harder with the PED suspension of John Collins, who, outside of emerging superstar, Trae Young, is the franchise's second most important weapon.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

NBA Championship Win: 0.1%

The Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the least impressive rosters in the NBA, however, in coach, John Belein, they have one of the very brightest minds, which has been a chief reason behind their surprisingly solid 4-5 start. Crucially for the Cavs - and assuming they are still in the business of accumulating draft picks - Kevin Love is back to vintage Kevin Love form, averaging 18.3 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, which makes him an extremely valuable prospect for teams who consider themselves in the championship window.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

NBA Championship Win: 0.1%

While the Memphis Grizzlies are marooned at 3-7 on the young season, the form of their young franchise lynchpins, Jaren Jackson Jr, and particularly, Ja Morant, has been extremely encouraging. In fact, the #2 overall pick out of Murray State is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, leading the team in points (18.9ppg) and assists (5.5apg) with 31.7% of the team's offense being run through the 20-year old.

NEW YORK KNICKS

NBA Championship Win: 0.1%

Another year, another season of abject misery for New York Knicks fans. They've started the season 2-8 and house the league’s very worst offense. If there’s a silver lining, it’s the form of their 19-year old rookie and #3 overall NBA Draft pick, RJ Barrett, with the Canadian seemingly already their best player, leading the team playing 35.3 minutes per night while contributing 15.5 points per game.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

NBA Championship Win: 0.1%

While the Washington Wizards’ 2-6 record has something of a familiar, negative air to it, there are actually quite a few good stories in the capital. Franchise superstar, Bradley Beal, continues to excel while getting great contributions from the likes of rookie Japanese sensation, Rui Hachimura, who’s averaging 13.6 points per night. In fact, there’s a distinct international feel to this Wizards team, with significant contributions from Mo Wagner and Isaac Bonga (Germany), Davis Bertans (Latvia), London-born Admiral Schofield and French centre, Ian Mahinmi.

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

NBA Championship Win: 0.1%

The Charlotte Hornets' 4-6 record is quite impressive considering how thin their roster is. The off-season loss of three-time All-Star, Kemba Walker, to Boston, left the team bereft of high-end quality and made them the second-youngest squad in the NBA outside of Atlanta. While playing the league’s 11th hardest schedule to date, the Hornets have remained competitive and are getting even contributions across the board, with six different players averaging double-digit points per night.

 

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James Rosewarne

James is a writer and Managing Editor at Stats Insider. He likes fiction and music. He is a stingray attack survivor. He lives in Wollongong.

Email- james@thehypometer.com for story ideas or opportunities.

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