NBA standings ordered by team VORP

The best teams have the best players, and the best players generate the most value over a replacement player (VORP). These are the NBA standings according to VORP.

Boston Celtics v Oklahoma City Thunder
Boston Celtics v Oklahoma City Thunder / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

There are a multitude of ways to determine team quality in the NBA. From win-loss record to net rating to point differential to the eye test, you can order and rank teams from now until 2025. However, at the end of the day, players win games, and there are few better statistics that measure a player’s impact than value over a replacement player (VORP). 

VORP as explained by Basketball Reference: “Value Over Replacement Player (available since the 1973-74 season in the NBA); a box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season. Multiply by 2.70 to convert to wins over replacement.”

VORP is the counting stat version of box plus/minus (BPM) and is likely the best publicly available historical all-in-on advanced metric, as tracking data (deflections, box outs, etc.) is a relatively new phenomenon. A replacement player is a player who produces approximately -2.0 BPM and is considered a bench-quality player, usually past a good team’s top eight in their rotation. 

The best teams naturally rack up the most VORP throughout a season and checking in on the standings based on VORP gives us a great idea of where a team’s true talent level stands. Good fortune in close games and/or an easy schedule can bolster a team’s win-loss record, but VORP remains context-neutral. These are the NBA standings according to VORP. 

1. Boston Celtics VORP: 8.9

Unsurprisingly, the Boston Celtics, owners of the best record and simple rating system in the league, lead the NBA in VORP by a significant margin. However, what is surprising is their team leader in the metric is Derrick White at 2.0. The Celtics have the deepest collection of high-end players but lack a truly elite player according to VORP, unless you believe Derrick White is actually an MVP candidate. 

2. Philadelphia 76ers VORP: 8.3

No James Harden, no problem. The Philadelphia 76ers have the best net rating in the league thanks to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey having exceptional seasons, with Embiid ranking fourth in VORP and Maxey ranking 18th. Embiid missing a few games has cost him in total VORP, but he has never been better and is the MVP frontrunner, and Maxey should firmly be in the All-NBA conversation. While they lack impact talent after that pair, they have a deep stable of quality NBA players to support their two stars. 

3. Oklahoma City Thunder VORP: 7.9

The breakout team of the 2023-24 season has the VORP to back up their excellence and needs to be considered a real threat to make it to the NBA Finals. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is second in the league in VORP at 3.5, and Chet Holmgren is 21st at 1.7. They have a deep and talented roster, but it remains to be seen if they can maintain their league-leading efficiency on 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers ten to 16 feet from the basket, and free throws. Even if they fall closer to the pack, they’ll still be a force in the Western Conference. 

4. Denver Nuggets VORP: 6.9

The Denver Nuggets owe their ranking almost exclusively to Nikola Jokic, who leads the league in VORP at 4.5. His 1.0 edge in VORP over Gilgeous-Alexander in second gives the Nuggets an unprecedented edge by being able to stack so much value into one player. It should be noted, that if Jokic were to lead the league in VORP this season, it would be his fourth consecutive season doing so, and he would join some historic company. The only other players to lead the league in VORP for four consecutive seasons are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1973-74 to 1979-80), Larry Bird (1982-83 to 1985-86), Michael Jordan (1986-87 to 1992-93), and LeBron James (2005-06 to 2012-13) since the 1973-74 season. 

5. Minnesota Timberwolves VORP: 6.3

The Timberwolves, owners of the best record in the Western Conference, are like a watered-down version of the Celtics. Their best player by VORP, Anthony Edwards, ranks 25th in the metric, but they have four players in the top 50 (Edwards, Mike Conley, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Rudy Gobert). The Timberwolves have the talent to rack up regular-season wins but will need Edwards or Towns to level up in the playoffs to go on a deep run. 

6. Milwaukee Bucks VORP: 6.1

The Milwaukee Bucks have the third-best record in the NBA but lag behind in VORP. Giannis Antetokounmpo is holding up his end of the bargain, ranking fifth in VORP at 2.8, but the rest of the roster has been a bit disappointing. Most prominently has been Damian Lillard, a season after ranking 10th in VORP in only 58 games, currently ranks 29th. The Bucks have bagged a bunch of wins and have upside, but their current VORP total shows they’re a clear step behind the Celtics and Sixers in the Eastern Conference. 

7. Los Angeles Clippers VORP: 6.0

Mo’ James Harden, Mo’ VORP. While the Sixers have been flying without Harden, the Clippers have been excellent thanks to their new addition. After a rocky start to the James Harden era, the Clippers are now 13-2 in their past 15 games and are poised to be a real contender in the Western Conference. Kawhi Leonard ranks 14th in VORP, Harden ranks 16th, and Paul George ranks 33rd, forming a balanced and deadly big three based on current production and track record. 

8. New Orleans Pelicans VORP: 5.8

The New Orleans Pelicans have quietly turned their season around. After falling to 12-11, they’ve gone 9-3 to vault into sixth in the Western Conference. They’ve gotten excellent contributions from Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and Jonas Valancunas, who all have at least 1.0 VORP. With Trey Murphy III lighting it up upon his return from a knee injury and Herbert Jones and Dyson Daniels’ defensive prowess, this is a deep and dangerous team. Zion, once again regaining his All-NBA form, would take them from good to great. 

9. New York Knicks VORP: 5.5

The New York Knicks have been excellent this season thanks to Jalen Brunson’s continued growth. He’s 20th in the league in VORP at 1.7 and has guided the Knicks to a top-10 offense despite the early season struggles of Julius Randle. The Knicks traded from their stable of high-quality depth to add OG Anunoby, but still appear one All-NBA quality player away from being a real title contender. However, this is a strong team that will win a bunch of games if VORP is to be trusted. 

10. Houston Rockets VORP: 5.2

The Houston Rockets' ascent to the top third of the league has been impressive, and it’s largely due to them finally giving the keys to the offense to Alperen Sengun. Sengun leads the team in VORP at 2.2 and ranks 11th in the league in the metric, just below Kevin Durant and right ahead of Stephen Curry. Fred VanVleet has also been excellent, with a 1.6 VORP total. The Rockets give very few minutes to players VORP frowns upon, and it has allowed their best players’ contributions to catapult them forward. 

11. Cleveland Cavaliers VORP: 5.1

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a disappointing season, but nonetheless, they’re still on the periferary of contention. Donovan Mitchell has been fantastic, ranking 17th in VORP, and has carried the team through poor performances and injuries to Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. Jarrett Allen, after missing time with an injury, has also been on a tear lately, and summer addition Max Strus has been the high-volume 3-point shooter this team desperately needed. Their current VORP ranking suggests that when the Cavaliers get healthy, they could be a dangerous team come playoff time. 

12. Golden State Warriors VORP: 4.9

Not to be mean, but if it wasn’t for Andrew Wiggins and his negative-0.6 VORP, the Warriors would vault into a tie with the New York Knicks for ninth place. However, Wiggins has played 768 minutes and is a significant reason why the Warriors have underperformed. On the bright side, Steph Curry has been his usual deadly self, Draymond Green has been fantastic when not getting suspended for elementary school bully behavior, and their bench cohort of Chris Paul, Dario Saric, Moses Moody, and Brandin Podziemski has literally carried the team. The Warriors' VORP isn’t special, but there is real upside on this team if Wiggins and Klay Thompson regain any semblance of their old form and Green can keep his emotions in check. 

13. Orlando Magic VORP: 4.9

The Orlando Magic got off to a blistering 14-5 start but have slumped to a 5-10 record over their past 15 games. Their VORP of 4.9 is perfectly fine for such a young team led on offense by Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero and surrounded by some of the worst spacing in the league. Goga Bitadze's 0.8 VORP filling in at center has been monumental for the Magic. He's not a star, but getting value from role players is what good teams do. Despite the recent downturn, the Magic's defense remains ferocious, and their arrow is pointing up. 

14. Indiana Pacers VORP: 4.8

Tyrese Haliburton and his 2.8 VORP is carrying the Indiana Pacers. They’ve gotten solid production out of Myles Turner, but Bennedict Mathurin and Bruce Brown have produced negative VORP this season. Unless the Pacers make a significant addition or Mathurin and Brown start playing better, it won’t matter how well Haliburton plays, they’ll still be a middle-of-the-pack team. 

The Jokic line (4.5 VORP)

15. Miami Heat VORP: 4.4

The Miami Heat leader in VORP is Kevin Love. That alone should explain their dead middle ranking. For what it’s worth, getting that much out of Love at this stage in his career is awesome, but they need more from Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Tyler Herro if they want to make any noise in the playoffs. 

16. Atlanta Hawks VORP: 4.3

The Atlanta Hawks have the largest disconnect between their VORP ranking and their net rating. While this just might be a product of employing Trae Young, the patron saint of a top-five offense with a bottom-five defense, it does suggest their win-loss record should improve dramatically from the 14-19 mark they currently stand at. However, this is a middling team that has been middling for the middling longest time now. A significant shake-up could and likely should be on the horizon.  

17. Dallas Mavericks VORP: 4.2

Luka Doncic is third in the NBA in VORP at 3.4, which means the rest of the Mavericks’ roster has produced a paltry 0.8 VORP or a single Goga Bitadze worth of value. Simply put, the Mavericks need way more Gogas to support Doncic. Kyrie Irving getting healthy will help, but the Mavericks’ 20-15 record looks more like their upper limit of team success than their baseline. 

18. Phoenix Suns VORP: 4.2

On Christmas day, Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a trademark ‘Woj Bomb’ when he said there was concern in Phoenix over Kevin Durant’s frustration with the quality of the Suns’ roster. Well, the Suns have 4.2 VORP, with Durant accounting for 2.2 of it and Devin Booker clocking in at 1.0. Now that Bradley Beal is healthy, the Suns should start to climb these rankings, but as VORP shows, Durant’s frustration wasn’t without merit. 

19. Sacramento Kings VORP: 4.2

The Sacramento Kings are a two-man band. Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox account for 3.6 of their 4.2 VORP. Without internal improvement or a significant trade, the Kings will merely be a solid team. 

20. Los Angeles Lakers VORP: 3.9

If the Kings are a two-man band, then Anthony Davis and LeBron James are a two-man army. The duo of teammates have combined for 5.0 VORP this season, which is more than the entire team has produced. The Lakers are the only team with two players in the top 10 of VORP and are still a bottom-third team, and this is with Austin Reaves playing to a completely respectable 0.7 VORP as well. Changes should be on the horizon. 

21. Toronto Raptors VORP: 3.7

Scottie Barnes accounts for 2.4 of the Raptors’ 3.7 VORP, and Pascal Siakam accounts for another 1.0. The Raptors are a flawed team, but at least they have a young star to build around and have hit the rebuild button by trading OG Anunoby, with Siakam likely to follow. 

22. Brooklyn Nets VORP: 3.5

The Nets have lost five straight games, dragging their record to 15-20, but their team VORP indicates that more five-game losing streaks could be in their future. What’s interesting is the Nets don’t employ any truly horrendous players, as only Cam Thomas and Armoni Brooks have negative VORPs. The Nets are treading water but desperately need a real star to tie their excellent complimentary players together. 

23. Chicago Bulls VORP: 3.3

The Bulls have been significantly better without Zach LaVine, but this is still a team where 66 percent of their VORP is tied up in a 34-year-old DeMar DeRozan and a 29-year-old Alex Caruso. The Bulls should look to flip those guys because they’re still excellent players and see what their young pieces can do. 

24. Utah Jazz VORP: 1.9

Lauri Markkanen has 1.2 VORP. He’s a real All-Star caliber player but is wasted on the Jazz. They’ve perked up a bit as of late, winning seven of their past nine games, but this is a bad team with a few pieces contenders should be interested in. 

25. Memphis Grizzlies VORP: 1.1

The Memphis Grizzlies are poised to vault up the VORP leaderboards and the standings. Ja Morant has 0.4 VORP in eight games, and Desmond Bane has 1.5 on the season. The back of the Grizzlies roster has torpedoed their season, but they have enough talent to make a run for the play-in. 

26. Portland Trail Blazers VORP: 0.6

Malcolm Brogdon leads the Trail Blazers in VORP at 0.8. Scott Henderson has a negative-1.0 VORP. The NBA is hard for young guards. 

27. Charlotte Hornets VORP: -0.4

LaMelo Ball was playing like his old self before injuring his ankle and completely tanking the Hornets’ season. His 0.7 VORP in 15 games had him playing at a top-25 pace, but the rest of the roster has not picked up the slack. Brandon Miller has negative-0.5 VORP. The NBA is hard for young wings. 

28. Washington Wizards VORP: -0.8

Jordan Poole leads the NBA in negative VORP at negative-1.0. The Wizards are bad, but Poole’s complete disintegration has been hard to watch and is why they’re Pistons bad and not Trail Blazers bad.

29. Detroit Pistons VORP: -0.8

Hey, the Pistons won a game. Their team leaders in VORP are Jalen Duren at 0.3 and Marcus Sasser at 0.2. Duren has played 570 minutes, and Sasser has played 477. Cade Cunningham has performed better as of late, but he still owns a 0.1 VORP in 1,195 minutes. 

30. San Antonio Spurs VORP: -1

Victor Wembanyama leads the Spurs in VORP at 0.6. His defense has been as advertised. When he gets to play with pseudo-functional teammates on offense, he looks like a future star. The Spurs have more players with negative VORPs than positive. 

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