What does preseason really mean?

With the regular season only 5 days away, and the preseason coming to a close, there has been quite a bit of chatter about how important the preseason actually is. Statistically, the preseason is actually a fairly indicative of how certain teams may perform once the games mean something.

First of all, Sekou Smith, of NBA.com’s Hang Time Blog, posted that Minnesota and Memphis fans have reason for optimism, while New Orleans and Atlanta fans perhaps shouldn’t be hoping for big things this season. He linked to this article by NBA.com numbers guru John Schuhmann, with this being the sticking point:

In the past five seasons, 10 teams have gone through the preseason either undefeated or with just one loss. All 10 have made the playoffs. In the same time, seven teams have won just one game — or haven’t won any — in the preseason. Only one of the seven, the 2007-08 Cavs, made it to the playoffs.

Since the Hang Time post, JS has updated his article, from 2009, with a 2010 version looking at various trends from the current preseason. But once again, the key point:

In the past six seasons (2004-05 through 2009-10), 11 teams have gone through the preseason either undefeated or with just one loss. All 11 have made the playoffs. In the same time, eight teams have won just one game – or haven’t won any – in the preseason. Only one of the eight, the 2007-08 Cavs, made it to the playoffs.

So, I thought, which teams from the current preseason should think they’ll make the playoffs, and which teams should be thinking about the lottery. Here’s what I found:

Orlando 7-0

Utah 7-0

Memphis 6-0

Boston 7-1

Cleveland 6-1

 

New Orleans 1-7

L.A. Clippers 1-7

Orlando, Utah and Boston are no surprise. Each of these teams would be expecting to contend. Cleveland is a real surprise, and while it would seem like they will make the playoffs based on that record, most expect them to deal Jamison and Mo-Will and start a proper rebuild, and that may impact on their ability to play in the postseason. Still, the East is pretty open at that 8th spot, so you never know. It’s really hard to know what this means for Memphis, though. You’d think they’d be maybe (a BIG maybe, but the talent’s there) top-4 if they played in the East, but they play out West. It’s really hard to see any teams dropping out to accommodate Memphis (Denver, perhaps?) Still, the Grizzlies should really like their chances of finally making it to the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Clippers won’t make the playoffs, they rarely do, but they do have reason to be very hopeful that the postseason isn’t too far away. With youngsters Griffin, Gordon and Al-Farouq to build around, the Clippers should get better in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately, it won’t be this season. For the Hornets, their record would be a bit more troubling for team personnel and fans alike. It’s already been reported that CP has gotten pretty disgruntled about the talent (or lack of) surrounding him, although he says otherwise. Still, the young fella wants the best chance to win and seeing the Miami super trio is probably leaving him longing a bit at the moment. The Hornets as presently constructed won’t make playoffs though.

That’s what I think; I’d like to know what others think about it. Cheers.

 

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