Not all wins are created equal. How would the NBA standings look if we only included each team’s games against opponents with a record over .500?
A 50-win season is often used as a rough threshold to separate true NBA contenders from the rest of the pack. So far this season, just five teams — the Bucks, Celtics, 76ers, Cavs and Nuggets — are on pace to hit that mark.
But that shorthand ignores the relative depth in the middle of the Western Conference and the fact that not all wins are created equal. More weak teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference means more opportunities to puff up a team’s record. If we look at the NBA standings based just on each team’s record against teams who are currently above 0.500, things change quite a bit.
NBA Standings: Eastern Conference vs. teams above .500
- Milwaukee Bucks — 21-9
- Philadelphia 76ers — 17-11
- Boston Celtics — 21-14
- New York Knicks — 16-16
- Atlanta Hawks — 15-17
- Cleveland Cavaliers — 14-18
- Miami Heat — 13-17
- Chicago Bulls — 13-19
- Brooklyn Nets — 11-17
- Washington Wizards — 13-21
- Toronto Raptors — 13-22
- Orlando Magic — 11-19
- Indiana Pacers — 11-24
- Charlotte Hornets — 8-26
- Detroit Pistons — 8-28
It’s interesting here to see the Nets slide so far down — an indication that they may have been feasting on bottom-feeders even before trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. We also see teams like the Knicks and Hawks jump up quite a bit over their full records, perhaps indicating that they could be ready to push a higher-seeded team in the NBA playoffs.
We also see the Bucks at the top of the field with the best record in the entire league against the top teams. They are just 6-6 against the other top five teams in the Eastern Conference but they are 6-1 against the current top six seeds in the West.
NBA Standings: Western Conference vs. teams above .500
- Denver Nuggets — 20-10
- Phoenix Suns — 17-16
- Minnesota Timberwolves — 16-16
- Dallas Mavericks — 16-16
- Golden State Warriors — 14-16
- Memphis Grizzlies — 14-17
- Sacramento Kings — 13-17
- Portland Trail Blazers — 12-20
- Utah Jazz — 12-22
- New Orleans Pelicans — 12-22
- Oklahoma City Thunder — 12-23
- Los Angeles Lakers — 12-25
- Los Angeles Clippers — 11-24
- San Antonio Spurs — 8-25
- Houston Rockets — 6-30
The Nuggets and Suns are the only teams in the West who have an above 0.500 record against teams who have an above 0.500 record against the rest of the league. This may be a product of the relative parity in this conference and a sign that we could be in for a fascinating postseason with almost any team capable of beating any other.
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