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NBA Power Rankings: Are the New-Look Bulls Worth a Bet To Win the East?

After just a few days of the NBA season, expert Ryan Kirksey gives us his NBA power rankings so far. The new-look Bulls look like they're for real, are they worth a bet to win the East?
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NBA Power Rankings: New-Look Bulls Worth a Bet To Win the East?

We have almost one week’s worth of games to consider in this young NBA season, so it’s time to set a baseline for each of the 30 teams and see where there might be value on the futures betting markets.

The Bottom Tier in these rankings will typically be reserved for those teams known to be tanking, struggling with injuries and performance, or teams on a significant losing streak. The Mid-Tier are teams struggling to find an identity but have shown promising signs of moving up, or had high expectations but have disappointed recently. The Elite Tier are the teams that look like they have the best chance for a lengthy playoff run right now.

Going forward, this piece will monitor the playoff odds of each team and help point out some of the reasons for risers and fallers.

NBA Power Rankings - Bottom Tier

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (Record: 0-3)

29. Orlando Magic (1-2)

28. Detroit Pistons (0-2)

27. Houston Rockets (1-2)

26. Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2)

25. San Antonio Spurs (1-2)

24. New Orleans Pelicans (0-3)

23. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0)

22. Sacramento Kings (1-2)

21. Toronto Raptors (1-2)

- As expected, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit Pistons look hopeless to start the season and were overmatched in their five combined games. The Thunder rank bottom-five in pace, offensive rating, and defensive rating so far. Detroit is eagerly awaiting the debut of Cade Cunningham, but that won’t be enough to salvage their season. Along with Orlando (+2500) and Houston (+2500), the Pistons (+2500) and Thunder (+3000) still have the longest odds of reaching the postseason.

- Without Zion Williamson, the Pelicans are off to a miserable start at 0-3. In an ultra-competitive Western Conference, they can’t afford to lose too much ground if they hope to make it back to the playoffs. If you believe that Zion’s return in a couple weeks will put a much-needed jolt into the Pelicans, the best odds you can find that New Orleans makes the playoffs is a strong +290.

NBA Power Rankings - Mid-Tier

20. Indiana Pacers (1-2)

19. Washington Wizards (2-0)

18. Los Angeles Clippers (0-2)

17. Portland Trail Blazers (1-1)

16. Memphis Grizzlies (2-1)

15. Boston Celtics (1-2)

14. Charlotte Hornets (3-0)

13. Dallas Mavericks (1-1)

12. New York Knicks (2-1)

11. Los Angeles Lakers (1-2)

- The Washington Wizards have shown significant signs of life even without Bradley Beal in their last game, a thrilling 135-134 OT win against Indiana. Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie look like they have found the team that can showcase their talents and Washington still hopes to get Thomas Bryant back by December. The Wizards certainly have a shot to squeeze into the eighth seed this year just like they did last season even though the odds still sit at +475 that they make it in.

- The Lakers needed a throwback, 28-point performance from Camelo Anthony just to beat Memphis and earn their first win of the season. I’m not sure he is the player you want to rely on for the clutch performances moving forward. However, the Lakers have four games against the power rankings bottom six teams this week (Spurs, Thunder, Cavaliers, Rockets), so they are likely back in the top ten this time next week. Oddsmakers still feel the Lakers are an elite title contender and they remain the Western Conference favorite (+500) to take home the title.

NBA Power Rankings - Elite Tier

10. Phoenix Suns (1-2)

9. Chicago Bulls (3-0)

8. Atlanta Hawks (1-1)

7. Brooklyn Nets (1-2)

6. Golden State Warriors (3-0)

5. Miami Heat (1-1)

4. Philadelphia 76ers (2-1)

3. Utah Jazz (2-0)

2. Denver Nuggets 2-0)

1. Milwaukee Bucks (2-1)

- What a week for the new-look Bulls, who have had dominant performances from Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball and Nicola Vucevic to contribute to a fast start. Add in tough defense from Demar DeRozan and new cult hero Alex Caruso and Chicago cake-walked through the early part of their schedule. Now the schedule gets tougher with games against the Raptors, Knicks and Jazz. The Bulls did pass New York as the team with the seventh-best odds (+3400) to win the East. They still are heavily favored to make the playoffs at -175.

- Brooklyn and Philadelphia squared off in the NBA Soap Opera Classic, both without their starting point guards as they seek to resolve their respective issues. The Nets got the best in Round 1, but these teams are likely to see each other in the postseason as they are locked in as the favorites (Brooklyn +120) and third favorites (+1000) to come out of the East. The 76ers look like a value at those odds assuming they can either resolve their issues with Ben Simmons or trade him for other key contributors.


Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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