NBA Power Rankings Update: Home Cooking

The Bulls have vaulted to second place in the East after four home wins.

It goes without saying that playing at home gives a team an advantage. You have your home fans cheering you on. You get to practice, play and stay in familiar surroundings. Your opponent has to deal with the wear and tear of travel.

As expected, home teams have an overall winning record so far this season, being 228-155 for a .595 winning percentage. On the other hand, only 10 teams have a .500 record or better on the road.

Minnesota, Denver, and Dallas are the only teams in the NBA to have a worse winning percentage at home than they do on the road. While the Nuggets and Mavericks hold a 5-7 and 6-5 home record, respectively, the Timberwolves are one of the most unusual outliers this year, as they have posted a 3-10 record at home and are 6-6 when away from the Target Center.

While our power rankings are not based purely on wins and losses, this week, we will use the home records to isolate a few teams who have been playing exceptionally well at home this season and break down how they have done it.

Our power rankings here at numberFire are not subjective or influenced by the latest hype; we put our faith and trust in our algorithms. Each week, we’ll list all 30 teams in the Association from worst to best based on our nERD metric, which is a predictive measure to help define what the team's winning percentage ultimately will be.

30. Philadelphia 76ers (nERD: 10.5, Record: 1-26, Last Week: 30)
29. Los Angeles Lakers (nERD: 18.7, Record: 4-21, Last Week: 29)
28. New Orleans Pelicans (nERD: 30.3, Record: 7-18, Last Week: 28)
27. Milwaukee Bucks (nERD: 30.3, Record: 10-17, Last Week: 26)
26. Brooklyn Nets (nERD: 30.6, Record: 7-18 Last Week: 25)

After 25 games and only seven wins, the Nets have managed to put up a respectable record when at home: 6-7. The year got off to a rough start, with only one win in their first 10 games overall. The Nets then proceeded to feast on home cooking as they rattled off six wins in their next seven games at the Barclays Center. During the run, the team ranked third with 47.9 percent field goal shooting. The real star was their eighth-ranked home defense in terms of points allowed and Defensive Rating.

On Wednesday, Brooklyn concluded a six-game home stand, where they went a disappointing 2-4. Despite the improved home play, the record is a bit deceiving, as the opponents they faced in their four losses (Warriors, Clippers, Magic, Heat) have a combined record of 70-31. 

One of the keys to the better play at home is the Nets' floor general, Jarrett Jack. In the 12 road games, Jack has a Net Rating of -11.8. While playing at home, his Net Rating jumps up to -1.8. Jack is also shooting 4.3 percentage points better at home.

25. Memphis Grizzlies (nERD: 34.0, Record: 14-13, Last Week: 24)
24. Denver Nuggets (nERD: 34.1, Record: 11-14, Last Week: 27)
23. Washington Wizards (nERD: 36.0, Record: 10-14, Last Week: 22)
22. Houston Rockets (nERD: 39.1, Record: 12-14, Last Week: 23)
21. Sacramento Kings (nERD: 39.5, Record: 10-15, Last Week: 21)

Even as they sit five games below .500, the Kings have managed to maintain an 8-7 winning record at home. As the third highest scoring team in the league with 105 points per game, Sacramento has locked down on the other side of the ball, recently, when at the Sleep Train Arena.

Currently on a three-game win streak, all at home, the Kings have given up only 100.0 points per game in those three contests. In the Kings' home games, overall, they allow only 104.5 points per game, not exactly a defensive wall, but light years better than when they are away. In their 10 road games, the Kings give up a full eight points more per game, ranking them dead last in the Association with 112.5 points allowed per game.

DeMarcus Cousins plays his best ball at home. In Sacramento, he has a sub-100 Defensive Rating and a 6.1 Net Rating. In the 11 games he has played in at home, the club is 8-3. Without their superstar, they are winless in four tries. When you consider the Kings have a winning record with Cousins in the lineup, 9-8, and are only a game out of the 8 seed in the West, the franchise would be best to ignore the trade inquiries.

20. New York Knicks (nERD: 40.9, Record: 12-14, Last Week: 20)
19. Phoenix Suns (nERD: 41.9, Record: 11-16, Last Week: 19)
18. Minnesota Timberwolves (nERD: 44.8, Record: 9-16, Last Week: 17)
17. Portland Trailblazers (nERD: 46.2, Record: 11-16, Last Week: 18)
16. Utah Jazz (nERD: 47.6, Record: 10-14, Last Week: 14)
15. Orlando Magic (nERD: 51.8, Record: 14-11, Last Week: 13)
14. Chicago Bulls (nERD: 52.4, Record: 15-8, Last Week: 16)

Thanks in large part to their fourth straight home victory, Chicago has jumped back up to the second in the Eastern Conference, one game behind Cleveland. Their sterling 11-3 home record leaves the Bulls with the second-best winning percentage and most home wins in the Eastern Conference. When at home, the defense has been the difference maker, as Chicago allows the second-fewest amount of points, 93.8, and grabs the most boards in the league with over 50 per game.

It's good for the Bulls that they have the fourth-best home Defensive Rating, 94.3, since they also have the fourth-worst home Offensive Rating in the NBA at 98.1. When at home, the Bulls toss up bricks regularly. Their home True Shooting percentage of 50.2 ranks dead last in the league. Chicago also scores 3.2 points more per game when playing away from the United Center.

The Bulls' best offensive weapon this season, home or away, has been Jimmy Butler, but his home/road splits are quite dramatic. On the road, Butler is shooting 49 percent from the field for 23.8 points per game. When in Chi-Town, the shooting guard is hitting only 41 percent of his attempts for 18.9 points per game.

13. Atlanta Hawks (nERD: 52.7, Record: 15-12, Last Week: 11)
12. Dallas Mavericks (nERD: 53.1, Record: 14-12, Last Week: 12)
11. Detroit Pistons (nERD: 55.4, Record: 15-12, Last Week: 15)
10. Boston Celtics (nERD: 58.0, Record: 14-12, Last Week: 8)
9. Indiana Pacers (nERD: 59.9, Record: 15-9, Last Week: 10)
8. Toronto Raptors (nERD: 61.7, Record: 16-10, Last Week: 7)
7. Los Angeles Clippers (nERD: 62.9, Record: 16-10, Last Week: 6)
6. Miami Heat (nERD: 63.1, Record: 15-9, Last Week: 4)

Tied with Chicago for the Eastern Conference lead in home victories, with 11, the Heat have been thriving in South Beach this season. They score nearly eight more points, shoot almost three percentage points better, and have a 7.2 higher Offensive Rating when playing at home.

Their sub-.500 record, 4-5, on the road is indicative of the dramatic offensive home/road splits this year. The 91.2 points per game scored in those nine games rank the Heat 29th in the league, ahead of only the Milwaukee Bucks. If not for their 102.0 points per game performance in the last two road games, both victories, the Heat would be dead last in the NBA.

Despite his 28-point outburst Wednesday, Dwyane Wade still has been putting up less than stellar numbers on the road. When in familiar territory, he is dropping 19.9 points and 4.9 assists on 46.8 percent field goal shooting, but when away from Florida, D-Wade is mustering only 16.0 points and 3.8 assists on 43 percent shooting.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (nERD: 64.6, Record: 16-7, Last Week: 9)
4. Charlotte Hornets (nERD: 65.8, Record: 14-10, Last Week: 5)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (nERD: 70.2, Record: 17-8, Last Week: 3)
2. San Antonio Spurs (nERD: 88.2, Record: 22-5, Last Week: 2)

The Spurs are one of only two teams still undefeated at home this year. The other is Golden State, of course. However, San Antonio holds the league lead in most home victories with 14 and just notched their franchise-best 23rd straight home victory, dating back to last year. When at the AT&T Center, the Spurs aren't just winning: they are dominating. The average margin of victory is 16.8 points with six wins coming by 20 or more points.

The league leader in multiple defensive categories is tightening the screws when at home. At their place, the Spurs are allowing a league-low 86.3 points per game. Their 90.3 Defensive Rating and 55.1 percent rebounding rate also are tops in the Association. Over their past six games, including three home games, San Antonio has managed to get better, as they are allowing a meager 83.8 points per game

The Spurs have five players in the top 10 of Defensive Rating, including a career-best 94.2 from newcomer LaMarcus Aldridge. While the defense is a true team effort, Kawhi Leonard is the bona fide star. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year holds a second-ranked 89.4 Defensive Rating, a league leading 2.3 Defensive Win Shares, and is behind only Stephen Curry with a 24.3 nERD Rating.

1. Golden State Warriors (nERD: 90.6, Record: 25-1, Last Week: 1)