FanPost

What's in a preseason?

A 5-1 start has us giddy. We're clearly better than a year ago, when it took us 27 games to win our 5th, as we started 5-22. Does anyone think we'll have the same start this year? Methinks not. If we can win our last two games, the pundits could be in for a rude awakening. After looking at the charts below, has anybodies opinion of this team changed?

Utah Jazz undefeated Wolves only one loss: What's in a preseason?

By Vincent Heck on October 18, 2010

 

After about seven games, Utah sits atop the Western Conference with their undefeated 6-0. Along with the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

I repeat, the Memphis…Grizzlies…and the Minnesota…Timberwolves.

“But Vince,” you say, “it’s only preseason.”

I’d say, you’re correct. But history, while it can be rewritten, is a tool that rarely fails us.

To briefly illustrate: If a particular family member comes to your house on holidays or for specific family functions, and there is always something valuable that goes missing, but always seems to miraculously reappear in his/her possession; rightfully, you’d use history to teach you a lesson for the next time.

Can that family member change? Yes. But, until you can be sure, you’ve gotta at least consider it.

So with that in mind, let’s consider the past. How have past teams done in their regular seasons, as opposed to their preseasons? The results my shock you.

I found these charts on a blog website named, 82games.com, the author, Roland Beech, explored the results making comparisons.

He compiled these statistics from seasons ’01-02 to ’05-06; a total of four years.

This is what he found:

BEST preseason records (’01-02 to ’05-06)

Year Team Preseason Regular Season
2002-03 Detroit 8-0 1.000 50-32 0.610
2004-05 Phoenix 7-1 0.875 62-20 0.756
2005-06 Denver 7-1 0.875 44-38 0.537
2003-04 Utah 7-1 0.875 42-40 0.512
2003-04 Memphis 6-1 0.857 50-32 0.610
2004-05 Denver 6-1 0.857 49-33 0.598
2002-03 New Jersey 6-1 0.857 49-33 0.598
2001-02 Minnesota 5-1 0.833 50-32 0.610
2001-02 Toronto 5-1 0.833 42-40 0.512
2005-06 Dallas 6-2 0.750 60-22 0.732
2002-03 Sacramento 6-2 0.750 59-23 0.720
2005-06 Phoenix 6-2 0.750 54-28 0.659
2005-06 Memphis 6-2 0.750 49-33 0.598
2005-06 LA Clippers 6-2 0.750 47-35 0.573
2004-05 Memphis 6-2 0.750 45-37 0.549
2005-06 LA Lakers 6-2 0.750 45-37 0.549
2004-05 Philadelphia 6-2 0.750 43-39 0.524
2004-05 Cleveland 6-2 0.750 42-40 0.512
2003-04 Seattle 6-2 0.750 37-45 0.451
2005-06 Houston 6-2 0.750 34-48 0.415
Average 48-34 0.581

The teams with the better preseason record, for the most part, produced winning regular season records. As a matter of fact, if you look at the above chart, you’ll notice everyone who won 5 or more games in the preseason, went on to the playoffs that year.

What’s more, if you look at the leading teams leading in the preseason this year, a lot of the favorites are leading the pack as we’d expect. (Orlando’s 5-0, Boston’s 6-1, Utah, 6-0, Cleveland 4-1)

So as non-meaningful  as these games are, you have to take into consideration that this isn’t the NFL, where it’s much easier to sit starters for longer periods of time. In the NBA there are less players dressed than the NFL, so you see, more true than football, what the team may look like.

Not convinced? Well, I’m not trying to convince you, truth be told. I’m just saying. But, for kicks, look at this next chart of the opposite results. These are the teams with the worst records in that stretch:

WORST preseason records

Year Team Preseason Regular Season
2004-05 Seattle 2-6 0.250 52-30 0.634
2004-05 Sacramento 2-6 0.250 50-32 0.610
2002-03 NO/Oklahoma City 2-6 0.250 47-35 0.573
2004-05 Boston 2-6 0.250 45-37 0.549
2003-04 New York 2-6 0.250 39-43 0.476
2001-02 Washington 2-6 0.250 37-45 0.451
2003-04 Philadelphia 2-6 0.250 33-49 0.402
2003-04 Phoenix 2-6 0.250 29-53 0.354
2002-03 LA Clippers 2-6 0.250 27-55 0.329
2001-02 Denver 2-6 0.250 27-55 0.329
2003-04 Washington 2-6 0.250 25-57 0.305
2005-06 Portland 2-6 0.250 21-61 0.256
2005-06 San Antonio 2-7 0.222 63-19 0.768
2001-02 Cleveland 1-5 0.167 29-53 0.354
2001-02 Philadelphia 1-6 0.143 43-39 0.524
2004-05 Atlanta 1-6 0.143 13-69 0.159
2003-04 Orlando 1-7 0.125 21-61 0.256
2002-03 Denver 1-7 0.125 17-65 0.207
Average 34-48 0.419

Now, there are a handful of teams on here with winning records, even an NBA champion. But, look at the averages at the bottom. Overall, these teams have faired more poorly than the pool with the winning preseason records.

The Utah Jazz of 2010-’11 are serious, there’s no doubt about that. The question remains, though, what to make of these Wolves?

With my first regular season Three in the Key column approaching seven days from now, I will have the daunting task of determining my early preseason picks to enter the season firing. Are the Wolves real? Or are they pretenders, perhaps like those ’03-’04 Seattle Supersonics, or the ’05-’06 Houston Rockets?

To further support the legitimacy of this research, Beech looked into teams who came off of losing seasons, and had a very good preseason the next season, as is the case with the Timberwolves.

This is what he found:

Teams with winning preseason records off a 30 win season

Year Team Preseason Regular Season Prior Yr
2004-05 Phoenix 7-1 0.875 62-20 0.756 29-53
2003-04 Memphis 6-1 0.857 50-32 0.610 28-54
2003-04 Miami 5-2 0.714 42-40 0.512 25-57
2003-04 Toronto 4-2 0.667 33-49 0.402 24-58
2003-04 Denver 5-3 0.625 43-39 0.524 17-65
2002-03 Houston 4-3 0.571 43-39 0.524 28-54
2004-05 Orlando 4-3 0.571 36-46 0.439 21-61
2003-04 Cleveland 4-3 0.571 35-47 0.427 17-65

This chart shows a 19 win average improvement. Which would put the Wolves at…34 wins this season. That’s reasonable to say right? Being that the new Timberwolves are comprised of 67% or so new staff, we don’t know what we’re going to see. All we’ve got is this preseason that tells us these boys are pretty talented.

So, we’ll go with that. What do you think? Are you taking the over or under on 34 wins? I’m, personally taking the — you’ll have to check back in on October 25, when I give my official season opening Northwest Division power rankings, and predictions in Three in the Key.

The only place to get all your Northwest Division news is by following Sports Haze’s Vincent Heck @SH_NBANorthwest on Twitter

<!-- Advanced AdSense by Jim Gaudet --><!-- google_ad_section_end --> Vincent is a Philadelphia man, who has been writing, professionally, since 2009, but has written all his life. Heck loves people, loves sports, and loves to be challenged. His sometimes opinionated, Philadelphia-style writing, has been featured in various places, such as: Yahoo! Sports, AOL, Philadelphia Sports Daily, and Philly.com. He's taken courses on American Literature, and Creative Writing. Email Heck at:vincentheckwriting@yahoo.com. Vincent Heck http://www.sportshaze.com/2010-nba-utah-jazz-undefeated-minnesota-timberwolves-only-one-loss-whats-in-a-preseason/
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