NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Bulls a Value Bet to Make the Playoffs?

With more than a third of the 2020-21 NBA regular season in the books, it's time to take a look at numberFire's power rankings and see which teams saw the most movement since last week.

Teams will be ranked in terms of nERD, which is our efficiency metric based on in-game data. These ratings allow us to understand which teams and players are performing best. nERD is indicative of a team's expected winning percentage, so an average team will have a nERD score of 50.0.

Here's a look at how each team stacks up.

The Bottom 10

RankingTeamRecordnERDLast RankingPlus/Minus
30Cleveland Cavaliers11-2123.6300
29Minnesota Timberwolves7-2529.928-1
28Detroit Pistons9-2232.327-1
27Oklahoma City Thunder12-1934.025-2
26Orlando Magic13-1934.629+3
25Sacramento Kings12-1936.623-2
24Washington Wizards11-1837.026+2
23Miami Heat14-1740.024+1
22Houston Rockets11-1842.321-1
21Charlotte Hornets14-1643.020-1


- In the first week of February, the Sacramento Kings were riding high, having won seven of their previous eight games. That success is barely a dot in the rearview mirror, seeing as though Sacramento has now dropped eight in a row. Over at FanDuel Sportsbook, you can get -750 odds that the Kings will miss the playoffs, which implies 88.2% odds -- our model has the probability of that occurring at 93.9%. There's a smidge of value here.

- The Miami Heat went 3-1 this week, but our model still sees some value in a wager on them missing the playoffs, which is priced at +330. While those odds imply only a 23.3% chance of it happening, numberFire's algorithm has the likelihood at 45.3%.

The Middle of the Pack

RankingTeamRecordnERDLast RankingPlus/Minus
20Memphis Grizzlies13-1444.118-2
19Chicago Bulls14-1645.422+3
18Portland Trail Blazers18-1347.3T14-4
17Dallas Mavericks15-1547.619+2
16New York Knicks15-1748.217+1
15San Antonio Spurs16-1149.416+1
14Atlanta Hawks13-1850.1T140
13Boston Celtics15-1650.212-1
12New Orleans Pelicans13-1751.313+1
11Indiana Pacers15-1454.0110


- This tier is where some real value betting starts to show itself -- and that begins with the Chicago Bulls. Chicago has won four of their last five, and at 14-16, they currently sit in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. According to NBA.com, the Bulls have the seventh-best net rating in the month of February. Betting on the Bulls to make it to the dance is priced at +390, which implies 20.4% odds. Our algorithm gives the Bulls a 31.6% probability of making the playoffs.

- As was the case last week, the New York Knicks are also a good bet to make it to the postseason, per our model. FanDuel has divvied out +220 odds that the Knicks clinch their first playoff berth since 2013 -- that implies a 31.3% chance of it transpiring. However, numberFire's has New York's likelihood at 42.9%. Is that value I smell?

The Best of the Best

RankingTeamRecordnERDLast RankingPlus/Minus
10Golden State Warriors17-1554.59-1
9Toronto Raptors16-1655.510+1
8Denver Nuggets17-1457.37-1
7Philadelphia 76ers21-1159.46-1
6Phoenix Suns20-1061.38+2
5Brooklyn Nets21-1263.050
4Los Angeles Lakers22-1066.240
3Los Angeles Clippers23-1069.12-1
2Milwaukee Bucks19-1369.83+1
1Utah Jazz25-675.710


- We'll focus on championship bets for most of this tier, but first let's talk about the Golden State Warriors. Golden State went 2-1 in games Stephen Curry appeared in this week, and our model now has their playoff probability at a nice 69.7%. However, FanDuel prices that event at -124, which only carry 55.4% implied odds.

- Here are the teams with implied championship odds that's at least 1.0% lower than our model's probability for them to win the title: The Phoenix Suns at +5500, the Milwaukee Bucks at +700, and, finally, the Utah Jazz at +950.

- Utah seems like the best bet of the bunch. The Jazz are currently first in the league in net rating, as well as top-four in both defensive and offensive efficiency. Their nERD score is 5.9 points better than any other team in the league, and their title probability of 19.0% is also tops in the Association. Despite all of that, you can place a championship wager on the Jazz for +950, which implies just a 9.5% chance of your bet materializing.