National Basketball Association Passing and defensive offenses can be the difference between a good team and one that can’t go out of their way. The opportunity to pass is not the end. He’s there for what the team can and cannot do. But the ability to limit the score easily and quickly is huge. And the ability to quickly and easily place a tank on your opponent’s head – either with a terrifying dunk or a kickback triplet – can turn your attack from good to weak.
National Basketball Association In this week’s energy rankings, I thought I’d try to see how everyone is doing when it comes to pass scoring in the first three weeks of the NBA season. How often do teams find themselves guilty of transitioning? Limit passes and how often teams can limit these opportunities for their opponents. (All statistics are by Synergy Sports.) Might explain why some teams start late or start early. And maybe that’s why some teams’ defensive or offensive ratings seem a little too high.
National Basketball Association All Team News
National Basketball Association We still have big swings due to the teams we successfully called to merge last week and this falls into this new category as other teams are currently unable to merge.
Hollinger’s week, namely: Cavs, Jazz boom on deal; Place Nuggets Check-In
WARNING: Power Rankings don’t just rank 30 teams, we tier them. Any team can enter and exit the team. We have power rating levels divided into seven categories:
What happened to you guys? Get it together! — These teams are more likely to win. And we know they’re not tanks.
Victor Wembanyama Watch – They’re rebuilding, and there’s nothing more important than upgrading and drawing ping-pong balls.
Call Play-In – they’re rebuilding/renovating and they think they can get into the top 10 in their meeting.
Play-In Tournament team Or Better yet – They must be in the group. until disaster strikes
Playoff Teams – You may not have to worry about relegation to the playoffs.
On the brink of competition – parts far from us believe they can win the championship.
Contestants – Competing for the Championship. except for major injuries
As always, I’m sure we’ll all agree on the position of the 30 teams, especially your favorite team.
National Basketball Association All Time Playing XI
National Basketball Association Tier 1: The Contenders
1. Milwaukee Bucks (previously first) | 9-0 | +11.5 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Pistons, Win over Pistons, Win at Wolves, Win over Thunder
Transition offense: 113.6 points per 100 possessions (12th) | 17.2 percent of possessions (11th tied)
Transition defense: 106.1 points per 100 possessions (11th) | 16.4 percent of possessions (13th tied)
The effect: The Bucks still do a really good job of preventing opponents from converting in transition. They’re middle of the road in preventing opportunities, but they’re in the upper half of the league in making those opportunities empty adventures for their opponents. On offense, it’s crazy what a one-man wrecking crew Giannis Antetokounmpo is in transition. Over a quarter of his possessions (27.7 percent) come in transition. It’s the type of offensive play he does the most. He gets fouled 31.2 percent of the time in transition. It’s a big reason they’re able to compete offensively while they wait for their wings to get healthy.
2. Phoenix Suns (previously second) | 7-2 | +11.3 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Wolves, Loss to Blazers, Win over Blazers
Transition offense: 118.0 points per 100 possessions (eighth) | 15.0 percent of possessions (tied-23rd)
Transition defense: 96.9 points per 100 possessions (first) | 16.3 percent of possessions (12th)
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National Basketball Association The effect: Once again, the Suns are one of the top defensive teams in the NBA. They were sixth in defensive rating two years ago. They were third in defensive rating last season, and they’re currently third again. Not giving up points in transition is a big part of that. It can be tricky with a team like Phoenix because the Suns take a lot of jumpers, and that can lead to long rebounds and quick chances. But the Suns under Monty Williams have made transition defense a mentality, and they’re not even giving up 100 points per 100 possessions in transition. That’s a dominant performance when you’re supposed to be at a disadvantage.
Suns again look like a title contender, but Cam Johnson’s injury could test them
Tier 2: Brink of Contention
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (previously fourth) | 8-1 | +12.0 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Celtics, Win at Pistons, Win at Lakers
Transition offense: 119.7 points per 100 possessions (tied-fifth) | 14.6 percent of possessions (25th)
Transition defense: 105.7 points per 100 possessions (10th) | 19.4 percent of possessions (29th)
National Basketball Association The effect: The Cavaliers are off to a ridiculous start, and they’re just now starting to get healthier with Darius Garland back from the eye injury. The Cavs have been tremendous with Donovan Mitchell leading the way, and they’re one of the more interesting starts to the season. Their transition game has been pretty confusing. They’re one of a handful of teams that score extremely well in transition but rarely have those opportunities. The Cavs are a slow team. Low pace. Great defense that doesn’t look to push. And they’re a good transition defense, despite giving up one of the highest transition rates in the NBA. That will lower if they can cut down on turnovers, which the return of Garland should be able to do.
4. Boston Celtics (previously fifth) | 6-3 | +3.8 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Cavs, Win over Bulls, Win at Knicks
Transition offense: 110.8 points per 100 possessions (tied-15th) | 16.1 percent of possessions (18th)
Transition defense: 103.5 points per 100 possessions (eighth) | 14.3 percent of possessions (tied-third)
National Basketball Association The effect: It feels like the Celtics could be a lot more dangerous with their size and athleticism when it comes to scoring in transition, but so far this campaign, they’ve just been middle of the road in efficiency and in opportunities. However, they don’t force a lot of turnovers. They’re one of the worst defenses in the NBA in terms of turnover rate. They just force you to miss shots, which is still very good defense. Part of that good defensive identity is how they perform in getting back in transition. It feels as if everybody on the court is either a threat to get back and take a charge or get back and alter a shot pretty quickly. They don’t give you many chances to convert, and when you do have the chances, they make sure you don’t convert.
National Basketball Association Their defense will get back on track as things regress toward the mean, and then they’ll really constrict everything opponents try to do in transition or half court.
‘Boom’: How Sam Hauser and the Celtics bench have opened up the team’s offense
Tier 3: Playoff Teams
5. Atlanta Hawks (previously seventh) | 6-3 | +0.7 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Raptors, Win at Knicks, Win over Pelicans
Transition offense: 131.1 points per 100 possessions (first) | 15.4 percent of possessions (tied-20th)
Transition defense: 106.9 points per 100 possessions (tied-14th) | 15.0 percent of possessions (fifth)
National Basketball Association The effect: So far this season, nobody is better than the Hawks in making you pay for mistakes in transition. They score a ridiculous 131.1 points per 100 transition possessions. Their true shooting percentage is damn near 70 (69.4), and their 9.9 percent turnover rate is top 10 in the NBA. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray are just blitzing everybody with their transition offense. De’Andre Hunter, Clint Capela and John Collins all do a phenomenal job running the floor. They just don’t do it as a team a whole lot. They don’t force a lot of turnovers, so it limits how quickly they can push opponents on their heels, but they’ve been tremendous in transition. And they’ve really limited what opponents do going in the other direction.
6. Memphis Grizzlies (previously sixth) | 7-3 | +1.2 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Jazz, Win at Blazers, Win over Hornets, Win at Wizards
Transition offense: 107.0 points per 100 possessions (23rd) | 18.7 percent of possessions (seventh)
Transition defense: 101.6 points per 100 possessions (third) | 16.4 percent of possessions (tied-13th)
National Basketball Association The effect: It’s odd to see a team with this level of youth and athleticism struggle so mightily scoring in transition. You’d think Ja Morant alone would have them as one of the top 10 scoring teams in transition, but that isn’t the case. They are trying to run the ball down the gullets of their opponents, but it’s just not working. Morant has been good, but Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones just haven’t come through in transition offense. Plenty of room for growth though. As for the defense, Taylor Jenkins has had them focused on getting back and denying transition opportunities since he took over. No surprise to see them performing well in that department.
7. Dallas Mavericks (previously 11th) | 5-3 | +6.4 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Jazz, Win over Raptors
Transition offense: 115.9 points per 100 possessions (10th) | 14.5 percent of possessions (26th)
Transition defense: 116.7 points per 100 possessions (22nd) | 16.4 percent of possessions (tied-13th)
The effect: We’ve seen an early defensive dip compared to what we saw from the Mavericks in their first campaign under Jason Kidd. The personnel has changed a little bit, but nothing too drastic. We’ve seen their transition defense be a part of that dip in overall defensive rating, and it mostly evens out with how good their transition offense is. The reason the Mavs don’t have more opportunities with their transition offense is because of how methodical they are, even after stops. The Mavs play at the slowest pace in the NBA because when you have Luka Dončić carving everybody up at a historic rate, why do you need to push or rush anything? With the run he’s on and the way he has them playing on offense, there’s no need to make a drastic change.
8. Denver Nuggets (previously 10th) | 6-3 | +2.0 net rating
Weekly slate: Win at Thunder, Win over Spurs
Transition offense: 130.2 points per 100 possessions (2nd) | 17.2 percent of possessions (11th tied)
Transition defense: 117.3 points per 100 possessions (23rd) | 16.2 percent of possessions (11th)
National Basketball Association The effect: With the kind of outlet passing Nikola Jokić does, maybe the only surprising thing in these numbers is that the Nuggets don’t push the ball in transition more. Although, you need to get stops to run in transition (most of the time). Denver’s defense has been bad, and it doesn’t really force turnovers yet. But when the Nuggets get out in transition, it’s some of the most beautiful basketball in the NBA. Denver has an absurd effective field goal percentage of 74.1 in transition. Only Atlanta is close, with its eFG clocking in just under 70 percent.
9. Toronto Raptors (previously 14th) | 6-4 | +7.5 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Hawks, Win at Spurs, Loss at Mavs, Win over Bulls
Transition offense: 119.7 points per 100 possessions (tied-fifth) | 21.4 percent of possessions (second)
Transition defense: 111.2 points per 100 possessions (18th) | 15.9 percent of possessions (tied-ninth)
National Basketball Association The effect: This Raptors team has a sweltering transition game they throw at their opponents. The defensive side of it is fine. Not completely ideal, but they limit chances a good amount, and they’re decent at preventing the scoring in those chances. But offensively? This team is a nightmare in transition. The Raptors are so opportunistic in how they create turnovers and immediately take it the other way. It’s a big part of the reason they have one of the top overall offenses in the NBA. The Raptors have a little over one-fifth of their possessions on offense come from transition opportunities. It’s especially mind-blowing when you realize this is a team that has a very slow overall pace. The Raptors just know when to pounce.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (previously ninth) | 6-3 | +0.8 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss to Grizzlies, Win at Suns, Loss at Suns
Transition offense: 89.8 points per 100 possessions (30th) | 17.6 percent of possessions (tied-ninth)
Transition defense: 115.0 points per 100 possessions (21st) | 16.7 percent of possessions (tied-17th)
National Basketball Association The effect: Some of this futility in transition is because the Trail Blazers have been missing Damian Lillard for most of the season. He wasn’t amazing in transition in his brief time this season, but he was still pretty good. Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant have really struggled to put pressure on opponents in transition. Both of them turn the ball over roughly 15 to 16 percent of the time in transition, and that’s just not going to cut it. At the same time, I’m not sure it’s anything to worry about. The Blazers have weapons who can really put you on your heels. Regression to the mean will go in their favor, especially when Lillard returns.
11. New Orleans Pelicans (previously eighth) | 5-4 | +4.7 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Lakers, Win over Warriors, Loss at Hawks
Transition offense: 114.1 points per 100 possessions (11th) | 15.4 percent of possessions (tied-20th)
Transition defense: 108.5 points per 100 possessions (16th) | 18.3 percent of possessions (24th)
The effect: The Pelicans have had Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson in and out of the lineup so far, so I’m not taking away too much from their offensive numbers in transition. They’re still good, and a down game against Atlanta took them out of the top 10 for scoring efficiency. I’m more surprised the Pelicans aren’t running more often. Williamson is still trying to find his rhythm, but it feels like they’re not running those go routes we saw under Stan Van Gundy to get Williamson out in transition more. He’s only in transition about 13.5 percent of his possessions. That should probably double. And CJ McCollum has to improve in transition. It’s very early, but he’s just missing shots left and right.
12. Utah Jazz (previously 18th) | 8-3 | +5.0 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Grizzlies, Loss at Mavs, Win at Lakers, Win at Clippers
Transition offense: 119.6 points per 100 possessions (seventh) | 17.6 percent of possessions (tied-ninth)
Transition defense: 106.7 points per 100 possessions (tied-12th) | 19.1 percent of possessions (tied-27th)
National Basketball Association The effect: As the Jazz continue to confound the basketball world regarding when they’ll commit to the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery, they are making life hell for their opponents, especially in transition. The Jazz have been excellent at forcing missed shots and turnovers. Whenever they get a step of momentum in the right direction after those two forced events, they’re trying to make the opponent backpedal so they can take advantage. Utah has continued to surprise everybody with just how well it is executing under Will Hardy. Lauri Markkanen, Mike Conley, Collin Sexton and Malik Beasley have all run the floor extremely well. Jordan Clarkson has been bombing from 3-point range in transition. Teams just don’t know what they can take away.
National Basketball Association Mike Conley and the Utah Jazz are the NBA’s biggest early season surprise. Can it last?
13. LA Clippers (previously 12th) | 5-5 | -3.7 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Rockets, Win at Rockets, Win at Spurs, Loss to Jazz
Transition offense: 117.4 points per 100 possessions (ninth) | 19.5 percent of possessions (tied-fourth)
Transition defense: 102.5 points per 100 possessions (seventh) | 15.9 percent of possessions (tied-ninth)
National Basketball Association The Effect: The Clippers have done really well for themselves in transition so far. They score efficiently, and they run constantly whenever their opponents make a mistake. They defend transition well and limit the chances in which they have to defend in a full-court scramble. The Clippers are carried by John Wall and Paul George in transition offense, and it’s great to see Wall have that element of his game back. We’re still waiting to see how much they’ll get Kawhi Leonard on the floor, but everything tripping up the Clippers so far has been in the half court, not in transition.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (previously 15th) | 5-5 | +1.1 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Suns, Loss to Bucks, Win over Rockets
Transition offense: 110.8 points per 100 possessions (tied-15th) | 18.2 percent of possessions (eighth)
Transition defense: 112.3 points per 100 possessions (19th) | 18.5 percent of possessions (tied-25th)
National Basketball Association The effect: It feels like the Timberwolves should be better in transition than what we’ve seen. They have one of the best trailers in transition in Karl-Anthony Towns, who can use that lethal set shot to bomb away from 3-point range. Anthony Edwards has started dunking again, so maybe he’ll be more of a terror in transition. But they have to find a way to get D’Angelo Russell to be better in these situations. He’s just not scoring efficiently, and he doesn’t really get to the free-throw line either. As the Wolves jell more and more, we’ll see a quicker offense than can pounce on any mistakes. As for the defense, I can’t imagine they’ll be able to run back consistently to stop opponents, so that offense needs to be even better.
Tier 4: Play-In Tournament Teams Or Better
15. Chicago Bulls (previously 17th) | 5-6 | +0.9 net rating
Weekly slate: Win at Nets, Win over Hornets, Loss at Celtics, Loss at Raptors
Transition offense: 111.8 points per 100 possessions (13th) | 17.2 percent of possessions (tied-11th)
Transition defense: 98.9 points per 100 possessions (second) | 15.5 percent of possessions (sixth)
National Basketball Association The effect: The Bulls have worked their way up to just outside the top 10 in overall defensive rating, and the transition defense is a big part of that. They don’t allow a lot of opportunities, and when they do, they shut down the opponent trying to grab an easy bucket. It’s especially impressive considering the Bulls are still without Lonzo Ball, who actually does a phenomenal job keeping both ends of the transition court taken care of on any given night. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan have performed well in offensive transition, but young guys such as Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams have also been awesome getting those quick points.
16. New York Knicks (Previously 16th) | 4-5 | -1.8 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss to Hawks, Win at Sixers, Loss to Celtics
Transition offense: 107.5 points per 100 possessions (21st) | 20.4 percent of possessions (third)
Transition defense: 118.1 points per 100 possessions (24th) | 15.8 percent of possessions (eighth)
The effect: The Knicks are up from one of the slowest teams in the league last season to 13th in pace. A big part of that is that they’ve been pushing the ball, which is an effect of Jalen Brunson just having a great sense of what to do. The Knicks have a few guys who can be effective grabbing and going, but Brunson has been the one performing this the best. The team as a whole is struggling in transition, but they’re pushing it to get the defense on its heels more than just about anybody. While they limit transition opportunities against them, the Knicks still need to be better ending those situations with a stop and not a bucket yielded. Would love to see RJ Barrett get into a rhythm pushing the ball coast-to-coast.
17. Philadelphia 76ers (Previously 13th) | 4-6 | +1.0 net rating
Weekly slate: Win at Wizards, Loss to Wizards, Loss to Knicks
Transition offense: 120.7 points per 100 possessions (fourth) | 13.5 percent of possessions (29th)
Transition defense: 126.9 points per 100 possessions (28th) | 18.5 percent of possessions (tied-25th)
National Basketball Association The effect: The 76ers have been a team that doesn’t find itself in a ton of transition opportunities on offense. They’re nearly the lowest volume team when it comes to transition offense, even though they’re one of the best at scoring in transition. That could all change with James Harden missing a month. Maybe they’ll run more with Tyrese Maxey as the primary lead guard. Maybe they’ll keep it slow to minimize turnovers and potential mistakes. But their transition defense is putrid. This is the transition defense of a young team, and this team is supposed to be built to win. Harden was awful in it, and Maxey isn’t stopping anybody in transition. Joel Embiid has to run back with more effort and consistency. The Sixers need to get back and get back often. It’s why they’re below league average in overall defensive rating.
Tier 5: Looking to make the Play-In
18. Miami Heat (previously 27th) | 4-6 | -1.8 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Warriors, Win over Kings, Loss at Pacers
Transition offense: 109.1 points per 100 possessions (20th) | 14.2 percent of possessions (28th)
Transition defense: 106.7 points per 100 possessions (tied-12th) | 17.9 percent of possessions (21st)
The effect: It’s no surprise that this Erik Spoelstra team doesn’t push the pace. That’s not typically what his Heat squads do, although we often see them push the pace opportunistically. This season, despite being a top-five team at forcing turnovers, the Heat are a bottom-five team in turning that into a transition opportunity for their offense. Jimmy Butler has been excellent in transition (limited opportunities), but we’re not seeing Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry put much pressure. Without being able to get some quick, easy buckets, the Heat continue to hover around being a bottom-10 offensive team for the entire season. They need to inject some life into making their offense easier.
19. Indiana Pacers (previously 22nd) | 4-5 | -1.6 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Nets, Win over Heat
Transition offense: 128.7 points per 100 possessions (third) | 16.6 percent of possessions (15th)
Transition defense: 102.2 points per 100 possessions (fifth) | 18.0 percent of possessions (22nd)
National Basketball Association The effect: The Pacers’ excellence in transition on both sides of the floor is part of the reason they have been so competitive to start. Overall, the Pacers are really struggling on defense, but most of that happens in the half court. They’re really good about disrupting whatever attack happens against them on the break. As far as their scoring, Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin and Buddy Hield have all been monsters in transition offense. Mathurin and Hield have combined for 19 made 3-pointers on 48.7 percent.
20. Washington Wizards (previously 20th) | 4-6 | -5.7 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss to Sixers, Win at Sixers, Loss to Nets, Loss at Grizzlies
Transition offense: 109.8 points per 100 possessions (tied-18th) | 16.9 percent of possessions (14th)
Transition defense: 132.2 points per 100 possessions (30th) | 16.7 percent of possessions (tied-17th)
National Basketball Association The effect: Goodness, the Wizards are horrendous at transition defense. Giving up over 130 points per 100 possessions is pretty pathetic, and it shows just how little effort is going into them getting back. The defensive intensity is not there anywhere on the floor, but this disgusting transition defense is setting them up for failure constantly. While their transition offense is solid, it’s not nearly enough to counteract when it goes the other way. The Wizards appear to have a lot of issues right now, and things are holding on by a thread. Wes Unseld Jr. has his work cut out for him in getting through to have these guys just try more.
21. Sacramento Kings (previously 26th) | 3-5 | -1.5 net rating
Weekly slate: Win at Hornets, Loss at Heat, Win at Magic
Transition offense: 106.9 points per 100 possessions (24th) | 19.4 percent of possessions (sixth)
Transition defense: 109.8 points per 100 possessions (17th) | 13.8 percent of possessions (second)
National Basketball Association The effect: If you want to see some early returns on how the Kings are different under Mike Brown, the transition defense is part of it. The Kings were tied for 20th in transition defense frequency last season. They’re second in percentage of transition defense possessions through the first three weeks of the season. The Kings are a bottom-10 team in turnover rate, but they’re not letting it crush their transition defense too much. They do a great job of getting back. On offense, they’re in transition all the time. They’re rebounding extremely well and trying to push the pace, but their efficiency scoring in transition has been terrible. De’Aaron Fox has been excellent in transition offense, but Harrison Barnes and Domantas Sabonis need to get it together. Turnovers in transition are too high.
Tier 6: The hell is happening with you guys? Get it together!
22. Golden State Warriors (previously third) | 3-7 | -4.5 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Heat, Loss at Magic, Loss at Pelicans
Transition offense: 110.9 points per 100 possessions (14th) | 14.3 percent of possessions (27th)
Transition defense: 104.6 points per 100 possessions (ninth) | 16.5 percent of possessions (16th)
National Basketball Association The effect: First and foremost, the Warriors are having an identity crisis right now. Steve Kerr seems lost with the rotation, and the Warriors are playing really poor defense, one of the worst in the NBA. Things need to tighten up with how and when they develop these young guys. As for the transition game, their offense is pretty much step-for-step with last season.
National Basketball Association The Warriors’ defensive issues overall look worse when you realize they’re not getting burned in transition. They’re actually pretty much in-line with last season. They were eighth overall in transition defense and were in a five-way tie for fifth in transition defense frequency in 2021-22. This team just can’t stop anybody in the half court right now, and that’s a massive clean-up job staring this team in the face.
23. Brooklyn Nets (previously 30th) | 4-6 | -0.6 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Pacers, Loss to Bulls, Win at Wizards, Win at Hornets
Transition offense: 110.2 points per 100 possessions (17th) | 16.4 percent of possessions (17th)
Transition defense: 113.7 points per 100 possessions (20th) | 13.5 percent of possessions (first)
National Basketball Association The effect: Big bounce-back week for the Nets. They just seem to be a magnet for turmoil, but nobody knows how magnets work, so it’s tough to explain. The positive here is the Nets have not given up a lot of opportunities to burn them in transition. They’ve kept that pace low, which is good because they’re not great at stopping teams in those situations. Mostly, opponents just carve up this team in the half court, which is bad. I’d imagine the offensive transition situation will get a lot better. They have shooters back with Joe Harris and Seth Curry returning to the court. They’re looking to find their rhythm. What would really help them is Ben Simmons becoming a monster pushing the ball up the floor again. That’s a whole other conversation though.
24. Charlotte Hornets (previously 19th) | 3-7 | -4.6 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss to Kings, Loss at Bulls, Loss at Grizzlies, Loss to Nets
Transition offense: 96.2 points per 100 possessions (29th) | 16.0 percent of possessions (19th)
Transition defense: 102.4 points per 100 possessions (sixth) | 14.3 percent of possessions (tied-3rd)
The effect: The Steve Clifford effect is there with the transition defense. While the Hornets look more and more like they’re losing grip of the rope, their team defense has been surprisingly competent right away with Clifford back on the sidelines. He’s a really good defensive coach, but the personnel isn’t supposed to pick it up this quickly. You see that in how they pull back with the transition defense and limit those mistakes. I don’t want to judge their terrible transition offense too much yet. We’ll see how that looks with LaMelo Ball back in the mix and a healthy Terry Rozier. Ball getting back to the court and making his season debut will boost all of their offensive issues.
25. Los Angeles Lakers (previously 29th) | 2-7 | -5.6 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Pelicans, Loss to Jazz, Loss to Cavs
Transition offense: 96.4 points per 100 possessions (28th) | 21.5 percent of possessions (first)
Transition defense: 124.6 points per 100 possessions (27th) | 18.1 percent of possessions (23rd)
National Basketball Association The effect: No team has a higher volume of transition opportunities on offense than the Lakers, and only two teams are worse at converting their transition opportunities. It almost doesn’t make sense how bad that part of the Lakers’ transition game has been. Them being bad defensively makes sense. I don’t think they have the personnel to consistently get back and organize to stop teams in transition. They also just miss a ton of jumpers and can’t get back quickly enough. But offensively? You have LeBron James. I don’t care how few shooters the team has; the Lakers should at least get a point for every transition possession they get. Not to scapegoat Russell Westbrook here because he’s picked on enough right now (although the sixth man role looks good on him), but he’s been atrocious in transition, and that can’t possibly hold to that low of a level.
26. Detroit Pistons (previously 28th) | 2-8 | -11.3 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Bucks, Loss at Bucks, Loss to Cavs
Transition offense: 103.7 points per 100 possessions (26th) | 16.5 percent of possessions (16th)
Transition defense: 120.7 points per 100 possessions (25th) | 17.1 percent of possessions (20th)
National Basketball Association The effect: Just a horrendous start to the season for the Pistons, and I keep believing they’re going to start looking a lot better. To be fair to them, they had a really tough schedule this past week, and the reason they moved up despite the 0-3 week is because I readjusted this tier to being ahead of the Victor Wembanyama Watch tier. This Pistons team shows its youth way too often, and we haven’t seen Dwane Casey find the solution to correcting this. This is an awful transition team on both ends. If the Pistons keep losing and performing like this, they’ll have to be dropped.
Tier 7: Victor Wembanyama Watch
27. Oklahoma City Thunder (previously 23rd) | 4-5 | -1.6 net rating
Weekly slate: Win over Magic, Loss to Nuggets, Loss at Bucks
Transition offense: 109.8 points per 100 possessions (tied-18th) | 19.5 percent of possessions (tied-fourth)
Transition defense: 101.9 points per 100 possessions (fourth) | 15.6 percent of possessions (seventh)
National Basketball Association The effect: Every year, people outside of the Thunder fan base expect the Thunder to be atrocious, and every year, this team comes out of the gates surprisingly competitive. It’s a very young team surrounding Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and we expect them to throw their hats into the Wembanyama sweepstakes at some point. For now? Their transition defense is highly impressive for such a young squad. The Thunder don’t really turn the ball over much, so that helps limit the transition chances for the opponents. And even when they do, this team gets back and gets in the way of those easy buckets. Mark Daigneault has done a really good job so far.
28. Orlando Magic (previously 24th) | 2-8 | -4.0 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Thunder, Win over Warriors, Loss to Kings
Transition offense: 106.6 points per 100 possessions (25th) | 15.0 percent of possessions (tied-23rd)
Transition defense: 106.9 points per 100 possessions (tied-14th) | 16.8 percent of possessions (19th)
National Basketball Association The effect: A big part of the transition offense woes for the Magic rests on the broad shoulders of their new franchise player. Remember above how we mentioned that Giannis uses 27.7 percent of his offensive possessions in transition? Well, Paolo Banchero has 27.5 percent of his possessions happen in transition. The difference? Giannis scores about 20 more points per 100 possessions than Banchero. It’s not fair to compare a rookie to a two-time MVP and a champion, but the volume is almost identical. Banchero only scores about 95.7 points per 100 possessions in transition, and at worst, you should be getting one point for every possession. He’ll figure it out. He’s so skilled and athletic at his size, and he’s still learning where to exploit those advantages, but it hasn’t worked in transition so far.
29. San Antonio Spurs (previously 21st) | 5-5 | -7.2 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss to Raptors, Loss to Clippers, Loss at Nuggets
Transition offense: 107.3 points per 100 possessions (22nd) | 15.3 percent of possessions (22nd)
Transition defense: 129.7 points per 100 possessions (29th) | 19.1 percent of possessions (tied-27th)
National Basketball Association The effect: As the Spurs have come back down to earth, we’re seeing why not all fast-paced teams are necessarily good ideas. We see that with the Spurs’ transition game on both ends of the floor. Gregg Popovich has embraced the youth and athleticism of this roster and let them run quite a bit. However, part of the reason the pace is so high (third) is because this team turns the ball over a ton, so there’s a lot of sloppiness to the pace to ramp it up. They get crushed in transition defense because of this, and I’m not quite sure what they can do to clean that up. Getting back is the simple strategy, but the young Spurs need to find a way to slow the game down mentally to cut down all of these mistakes.
30. Houston Rockets (previously 25th) | 1-9 | -9.4 net rating
Weekly slate: Loss at Clippers, Loss to Clippers, Loss at Wolves
Transition offense: 97.4 points per 100 possessions (27th) | 13.1 percent of possessions (30th)
Transition defense: 121.5 points per 100 possessions (26th) | 20.8 percent of possessions (30th)
National Basketball Association The effect: Pretty easy here to see the starting problems of this young Rockets squad. They allow the highest rate of transition opportunities for opponents while also yielding one of the highest scoring rates in transition. That’s a pretty bad combination. But it gets worse when you factor in they have the lowest transition volume on offense, and they’re bad at it, anyway, with not even scoring 100 points per 100 possessions in transition. Those are both signs of a really young team being allowed to just go figure it out and try to grow. When we see both of those numbers headed in the right direction, I bet we see that record improve greatly and that net rating start to shrink.