July 31, 2019, 12:42 am
Sometimes the offseason is more exciting than the actual season. In the midst of signings, it’s easy to jump to Basketball Reference and look at the stats of the added players and cherry-pick good ones to conform to a positive narrative.
It’s the honeymoon stage, and in the honeymoon stage, new players (typically) haven’t been a locker room issue for your team, nor have you watched any of them airmail a bad pass to your favorite team’s opponent in crunch time during a big game.
If you asked each team’s fans to estimate its record relative to Vegas, I bet the fans of most franchises would take the over.
But beyond synergy, beyond age curves, and beyond skill sets, there are other considerations that will impact the immediate performance of a team. Of these, perhaps one of the biggest ones is continuity. Even if a new lineup unit is a match made in heaven, that doesn’t mean that the unit will skyrocket to great performances right away. Players need time to get acclimated to one another and to the systems in which they play.
The Pelicans will have a new defensive coach and will also get major minutes from a number of players who haven’t played together. But in the NBA, particularly this year, this seems to be the rule and not the exception. With that in mind, I sought to find out the answer to this question: how much continuity do the Pelicans have relative to other teams?
I sought to answer this question with a quick skim of how many remaining minutes and points each team has from last season. A big thanks to Jeff Siegel for the rosters (I took them from his great site, Early Bird Rights), and a big thanks to Basketball Reference as well. Players who are free agents were not included in these results and teams with more than 15 players were not edited for the sums of minutes/points.
The results are pretty clear. The Pelicans ranked 24th in remaining minutes and 27th in remaining points. To be clear, this is not meant to be “perfect” analysis: what I am looking for is how different the Pelicans roster is versus those of other teams. The Pelicans rank near the very bottom of the league in these metrics.
Teams like Denver, Milwaukee, and Houston may have an edge early in the season with their excellent rosters and their continuity.