Can the Kings be stopped?
Three weeks remain in the NBA’s regular season, and many teams have fewer than a dozen games remaining. While a few of them have already clinched the postseason, others are running out of time to make up ground in the standings.
With scoring up around the NBA, any team is capable of beating another one on any given night. That’s led to further unpredictability about who will and won’t make the playoffs. With that in mind, let’s look at the NBA standings based solely on offensive rating.
NBA: Eastern Conference
New York Knicks-116.2
Right off the bat, or off the dribble, in keeping with basketball, there is a significant difference in these standings compared to league standings. Despite being two games better than the second-place 76ers, the Bucks rank just 9th in the East in offensive rating.
That, in and of itself, isn’t a cause for concern, but they do have a poor net rating when compared to the eight teams that made the NBA Finals in the last four seasons. Only the Miami Heat had a net rating below +5.0 and made the Finals; the Bucks are currently at +3.8.
On the other hand, Atlanta and Toronto are the 8th and 9th seeds in the East, but they would be the fifth and sixth seeds based on the offense. Both teams have scored at a top-10 level but have bottom-half defenses that are weighing them down.
Miami, despite being seventh in the East at the moment, has the third-worst offensive rating in the conference. That’s not surprising since they also have a terrible net rating but have a surprisingly good record in the clutch. They find a way to win enough close games to offset their mediocre metrics.
NBA: Western Conference
Portland Trail Blazers-115.6
Oklahoma City Thunder-114.1
Golden State Warriors-114.1
Los Angeles Clippers-113.3
New Orleans Pelicans-113.1
Los Angeles Lakers-113.1
San Antonio Spurs-109.7
The Sacramento Kings may only have the sixth-best record in the NBA, but they have the best offensive rating of all time. Their 119.4 points scored per 100 possessions mark is currently better than the record of 118.5 set by the 2020-21 Nets. That will certainly come back to earth in the playoffs, but they could still be a royal pain. Moving on.
The Utah Jazz, currently 10th in the West, would be third using offensive rating. The free-falling Trail Blazers are in a similar position. They are 13th in the West but would be 5th using this metric. As for underachievers, the Memphis Grizzlies are the ninth-best offense in their conference, even though they are tied for second in the West. That likely has a lot to do with them missing Desmond Bane, Ja Morant, and Jaren Jackson Jr. for long stretches of this season, however.
The Clippers are fifth in the West but 10th in offensive rating. That probably isn’t that indicative since their best player Kawhi Leonard has missed 30 games. To be fair, the same logic could be applied to the defending champion Warriors. Steph Curry has missed a large chunk of games this season, and it appears that they could be without All-Star Andrew Wiggins for the rest of the season.
Still, they have an above-average offense, and it could be much better in the playoffs than it is now. The bottom of the West features the eighth-seeded Timberwolves, who are third from the bottom in offensive rating but are bunched together with the Clippers, Pelicans, and Lakers.
All in all, while defense will play an important role in the playoffs, teams will need to rely on their offensive firepower to get them there. Based on these standings, the 76ers, Celtics, Kings, and Nuggets are all well-equipped as they gear up for the playoffs.