FanPost

Running down the NBA's top contenders

Consensus says: We're Number Two! - Alex Grimm

Since we're entering the stretch run of the NBA season, this seems like an appropriate time to take stock of all the NBA teams with a shot to win the Big Larry. We'll do this every Tuesday.

Winning Percentage (Win%)

1. San Antonio Spurs .776 (64-18)
2. Miami Heat .741 (61-21)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder .732 (60-22)
4. Los Angeles Clippers .690 (57-25)
5. Memphis Grizzlies .673 (55-27)

The number in parentheses is the W-L record each team is on pace to obtain. The average W-L record of a championship team is 58-24, so the Clippers and Grizzlies probably better kick it up a notch. Meanwhile, when is Eastern Conference basketball going to improve?

Margin of Victory (MoV)

1. Oklahoma City Thunder +9.05
2. San Antonio Spurs +8.45
3. Miami Heat +7.06
4. Los Angeles Clippers +6.29
5. Indiana Pacers +4.27

I'm not sure why Indiana doesn't have a better record; perhaps it's the fact that they haven't had their core together very long and they're young. Oklahoma City is a tiny bit older, but it seems like Durant and Westbrook have been around for like ten years. Surprised that the Spurs aren't #1 here?

Simple Rating System (SRS)

1. Oklahoma City Thunder 8.89
2. San Antonio Spurs 8.39
3. Miami Heat 6.91
4. Los Angeles Clippers 6.25
5-6. Denver Nuggets 3.88
5-6. Memphis Grizzlies 3.88

What is "Simple Rating System"? It is Margin of Victory + Strength of Schedule, which is why Indiana is missing from this list. They have played, according to basketball-reference.com, the weakest schedule in the NBA. (New Orleans has played the toughest) And yes, the Spurs have played a tougher schedule than OKC, which is why they are closer to the Thunder in SRS than they are in MoV.

Bill James' NBA Power Ratings (James)

1. Oklahoma City Thunder 209.0
2. San Antonio Spurs 208.9
3. Miami Heat 207.2
4. Los Angeles Clippers 206.2
5. Denver Nuggets 204.3

Bill James is one of my favorite thinkers, and of course he is best known as a baseball writer. Frankly, I trust him more on basketball than most basketball writers. Interesting that the top five here is virtually identical to the SRS top five, or at least it's interesting to me.

John Hollinger's Power Ratings (Hollinger)

1. Oklahoma City Thunder 109.33
2. San Antonio Spurs 109.26
3. Miami Heat 108.71
4. Houston Rockets 105.75
5. Los Angeles Clippers 105.62

Wow, Houston? Good for them. I hope they win the eighth spot and we finish with the #1. We owe them.

Our first three lists - Win%, Mov, SRS - are full-season indicators. These last two lists are power ratings, a look at who's playing well recently. It looks like no matter how you slice it, Miami should pretty well waltz out of the East - I think Indiana is the only team that could take more than two games off them - and the West will again come down to our boys and the Thunder, with the Clippers having a puncher's chance to get out of the West if things go right for them.

Still a lot of basketball left, though. Go Spurs Go!

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