NBA Betting Trends, Notes & Stats: Pelicans, Nets Improve Power Ratings, Unders Rising, More

NBA Betting Trends, Notes & Stats: Pelicans, Nets Improve Power Ratings, Unders Rising, More article feature image

Getty Images/Matt Roembke, Action Network. Pictured (L-R): Zion Williamson, Ben Simmons, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Welcome back to NBA Trends where we give you my top teams in Power Rating and the trends going on that you need to know about.

My power rating evaluates how many points a team is better or worse than an average team. This is not subjective, and I’m not always going to agree with them. It’s just one way to view the value of teams.

Here are the top-10 teams by my numbers, with manual adjustments.

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Power Rating Top 10

1. Boston Celtics (+15.5)

So Boston is just 3-2 in their last five after losing the Saturday Night Finals rematch vs. the Golden State Warriors. But a couple of reasons to continue to be bullish:

  • They still beat the Phoenix Suns so badly it lowered the Suns multiple spots in these ratings.

  • Boston has held opponents under their team total in the three wins out of those five. The defense is starting to regress to form; it’s back to 11th in schedule-adjusted at Dunks And Threes.

So while it’s notable that the Warriors still have the edge on Boston, and Boston’s offense may be sliding back to mere mortal levels, their run at the top of these ratings should continue indefinitely.

2. Brooklyn Nets (+11)

OK, I’m no longer as embarrassed by having this team this high. Since Jacque Vaughn took over, the Nets are 15-7. These ratings especially like them because they have the third-best halfcourt offense and eighth-best halfcourt defense (where most of the game is played).

A few guys who won’t get as much credit as they deserve for the Nets:

  • Nick Claxton: Claxton has been efficient, locked in, and making plays. His small-ball lineups still mean a lot of points in the paint because they switch everything but Claxton has been pretty good.
  • TJ Warren: In Warren’s 67 minutes since he returned from two years of injury, the Nets are +15.8 in Net Rating.

  • Seth Curry: The Nets are 11-6 with Curry in the lineup and the way he makes the team more complete is pretty evident.

By the way, Kevin Durant is 40-1 to win MVP at BetMGM.

3. New Orleans Pelicans (+8.5)

The Pels move up three spots this week thanks to some teams sliding and their continuing push.

New Orleans is 8-2 straight up and 6-4 ATS without Brandon Ingram this season. Unfortunately, this might not be entirely coincidental.

Often times when a team performs well without a star player, it’s less about how things that player does that limit the team but more about what their absence unlocks. Without Ingram, Zion Williamson has the ball way more as a creator and engine and not as the tip of the spear.

The team knows how to play around him, and it opens up more minutes for Jose Alvarado, who has been excellent in all phases.

The ideal version of the Pelicans integrates Ingram into this structure. But no matter what, New Orleans is one of just two teams (along with the Suns) who have a top-10 offense and defense.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (+8)

The Cavaliers’ offense is struggling a bit; they are 29th in the NBA the last two weeks. Some of that is missing guys, but it’s something to keep an eye on and why they’ve slid a touch down the ratings.

Meanwhile, Jarrett Allen is No.4 in defensive EPM and has the fourth-best defensive rating of any player, with at least 30 minutes per game for at least 15 games. He’s +3100 to win Defensive Player of the Year.

5. Utah Jazz (+6)

Utah got Mike Conley back on Friday but couldn’t find a way to get past the Wolves, then had too many players out against the Nuggets in Denver to pull off the upset.

They’re 3-7 in their last 10, back to 15-14.

I will caution, though, that they are still 11-6 when Mike Conley and Lauri Markkanen play. They don’t have enough of a margin for error in the West without their full compliment of guys, but if they get healthy, I’ll likely be back on them ATS.

6. Sacramento Kings (+5.5)


There are a few reasons to think the Kings regress a bit. They have faced the 29th-ranked defensive strength of schedule (so weak offenses).

They’re starting to have injury issues, with De’Aaron Fox and Keegan Murray recently missing time.

But their intended starting lineup with Fox, Kevin Huerter, Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Domantas Sabonis has the seventh-best Net Rating in the NBA. They’re on an East Coast road trip that’s likely to take some shine off but be ready for them to be back to tough when they get home and healthy.

7. Phoenix Suns (+5.5)

The Suns are not actually the seventh-best team in the NBA by my power rating. They are the team that most recently got stomped by the Celtics and had their advanced metrics annihilated by the nearly-unstoppable Green Machine. I have given them a small boost to try and offset it, as it happens to a lot of teams.

That said … if you pay attention to Suns twitter, there is not a lot of confidence in this team and a lot of calls for a trade.

It’s honestly pretty impressive that the Suns are still as good as they are without having traded Jae Crowder, without Chris Paul for several games, and without Cam Johnson. But you wonder if things are trending in the right or wrong direction.

8. Golden State Warriors (+5)

If their win Saturday was not a statement game vs. the Celtics, it was absolutely a series of bolded sentences.

I’ve been steadfast in my R-E-L-A-X mantra on the Warriors, and while the win vs. the Celtics doesn’t fix their 2-11 road record, it’s a good reminder that this team, when healthy and engaged, is still the defending champs who have a 4-1 title record when they finish the season with Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry healthy.

The Warriors also have had the 12th-toughest strength of schedule so far. They do need to clean up their performance against bad teams, though. Golden State is 5-10 ATS against teams under .500 at the time of the matchup.

9. Dallas Mavericks (+5)

I have boosted the Mavs a touch because they’re coming off total destruction at the hands of the Chicago Bulls in a rest game on a back-to-back.

Dallas has faced a pretty tough schedule so far, with the eighth-toughest overall schedule and third-toughest defensive schedule.

A fun stat? The Mavericks are 9-5 straight up against teams .500 or better and 4-8 straight up vs. teams under .500.

Any given night for Luka Doncic and the boys.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (+3.5)

Philly is boosted here by being top-12 in halfcourt offense and defense as well as halfcourt offense (their transition defense is awful).

I have them a half-point lower adjusted because their schedule has been absolute cake. But given their start to the season and missing Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey for various stretches, this is a pretty good outcome with a lot of runway ahead of them.

Where are the …

11. Milwaukee Bucks (+3.5)

The Bucks’ offense continues to drag them down, but they are sixth in Offensive Rating in the last two weeks and improving with Khris Middleton back. Their win in Dallas against the Mavericks took real nails and shows how they will continue to be among the favorites to come out of the East.

14. Memphis Grizzlies (+1)

My ratings are never going to love the Grizzlies who struggle in the halfcourt on both ends of the floor — 23rd in offense, 12th in defense. But their win against the Oklahoma City Thunder shows what they can do by just running the ball down the opponent’s throat constantly.

They are 9-3-1 ATS at home and 3-9-1 ATS on the road. That tracks with a team that needs to ride the momentum of the crowd.

16. Denver Nuggets (Even)

Hard to be a top-10 team with the 27th-ranked defense. The Nuggets are excellent in the clutch (No. 1 in the last five minutes in games within five points), but they have given up so many potential wins by just not engaging on the defensive end.

The Boomerang

So totals have been pretty even to the over/under split this season. Up until the last two weeks, it was 290 overs to 298 unders, eight pushes on the closing line; that’s 49% for the over. Last two weeks, it’s shifted to 53% for the over. It’s too small a sample vs. too narrow of a margin to really play.

But if we see a general trend to the unders, some teams have been low that we can go the other way on. For example, in the last two weeks, the over in Los Angeles Clippers games is 6-1 against a total of just 217.9. That total was low because the Clippers have been a bottom-five offense, but they’re starting to regress to form.

Similarly, the season-long ratings for the L.A. Lakers are going to be partial to their excellent defensive start. The over in their last seven games is 5-2.

On the other side, the Cavaliers’ offense (as mentioned above) has fallen off a complete cliff, and the under has been 7-0 the last two weeks.

So be aware as teams go through these dramatic shifts in offensive or defensive identity as the season progresses.

Run Them Out

The regular season is all about effort and energy amid the grind of 82 games with travel and an unrelenting, unforgiving schedule. Teams that can wear you out are naturally going to have a huge advantage and it’s easier to wear teams out when playing at home.

Cleaning The Glass has a stat called Pts+/Possession. It evaluates how many points the team added per 100 possessions by pushing the ball in transition. The top five teams in this category, — Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, and Toronto Raptors — are nearly 60% against the spread at home this season, per Bet Labs.

Conversely, the bottom five teams in that category, the Detroit Pistons, Timberwolves, Charlotte Hornets, Bucks, and Mavericks, are just 40% ATS at home.

Denver has underperformed at home, but they’ve had a road-heavy schedule to start. Teams that can run their opponents off the floor might be teams target as we head into the dog days of the season.

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 21, 2024 UTC