All the teams performing well in the NBA right now have one thing in common, they have a player or two, topping the plus-minus rating list.
This NBA season has brought in a lot of surprises in the first 20-22 games. Golden State Warriors, without their sharpshooter Klay Thompson and last season’s 2nd pick big man James Wiseman, are the team to beat.
Phoenix Suns, who were last season’s surprising finalists from the West are just 1 game behind 17-2 Warriors. They are not ready to lose a game and have been unbeaten for a month now.
Whereas the Lakers who were supposed to be the top team in the West as per the odds before the season have the 19th best record in the league right now.
Other top teams with better odds than Warriors – Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks are doing just fine, still struggling to get win streaks like the Warriors and the Suns.
There is a reason these teams have been performing so well. All these teams have multiple individuals with top plus-minus ratings per game.
How Plus-Minus Ratings affect team’s performance in the NBA
All the teams in good form right now, the Warriors, Suns, Nets, and Timberwolves, have some players in top-10 plus-minus ratings per game. All of those guys are performing on a nightly basis to get their teams a win.
There is no doubt that these teams are winning because their superstars are showing up for them each night. But other players in those teams contribute big time to make the a top team. Those players might not stuff stat sheets, but their plus-minus shows how good they have been.
NBA cumulative plus-minus leaders so far this season:
1. Curry +251
2. Giannis +167
3. D’Angelo Russell (!) +145
4. GP2 (!!!) +142
T5. Mikal Bridges +139
T5. Patty Mills +139
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 26, 2021
Plus-minus reflects the team’s performance and how well the team is playing as a unit it also shows how effective an individual has been for a team. We can see four among those six guys are not their team’s top-2 scorers but they are big on impact every game.
Mikal Bridges of the Suns and Patty Mills of the Brooklyn Nets are their team’s 4th best scorers whereas Garry Payton comes off the bench for the Warriors averaging just 13 minutes a game. But their impact on the game has helped their teams to be at the top.
D’Angelo Russell who was a minus 195 for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season is now a plus 145 just behind Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s showing in Timberwolves’ performance who have won 6 out of their last 7 games and are now even in W/L at 10-10.
While Timberwolves have the best starting-5 considering the plus-minus of the last 7 games, the Lakers have a starting five with all the players having a negative accumulation. It’s not a magical stat, it reflects quite clearly when these teams play on the court.