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For How Many Teams Average NBA Players Work for?

08 Dec

Officially NBA offseason is going to start tomorrow but we already know it won’t disappoint in terms of illogical moves and huge activity [4 out of 5 busiest parts of typical season will happen in less than three weeks!].

With all that in mind I wondered: on average for how many teams does typical NBA player work for?
Especially when it’s a natural follow-up to information about average career length.
I used the same data to determine answer but with two important tweaks: I deleted all player-seasons from defunct franchises and I assumed team’s continuity [so for example, I considered Minneapolis Lakers the same team as Los Angeles Lakers]. I did it to focus on players’ movement alone not on team’s history.

And the result of those calculations was…
3458 NBA players on average spent 2.21 seasons with one team and they played for 2.51 teams.

As with average career length there’s probably a difference between starters, stars and scrubs so…

For how many teams on average NBA Players played for in various rotation roles?


Less than 12 minutes per game for a career = 1,69 teams.
More than 12 minutes per game for a career but less than 20 = 2,98 teams.
More than 20 minutes per game for a career but less than 25 = 3,30 teams.
More than 25 minutes per game for a career but less than 30 = 3,38 teams.
More than 30 minutes per game for a career = 2,99 teams.

I think there’s an interesting dynamic here… even though the last group has the longest average careers… they spend it with fewer teams! Like we really needed another reason why does it pay off to be considered among the best players in the league… ;-)

As a bonus… recently Sports Illustrated posted a gallery titled “Twenty-Plus Years with One Team” which had 21 names on it… but none of them from the NBA!
So Which NBA Players did spend the most time with one Team? Here’s a full list for 13+ seasons…

Player Team Started Finished Games Minutes Seasons
John Stockton* UTA 1985 2003 1504 47764 19
Karl Malone* UTA 1986 2003 1434 53479 18
Reggie Miller IND 1988 2005 1389 47619 18
Hakeem Olajuwon* HOU 1985 2001 1177 42844 17
John Havlicek* BOS 1963 1978 1270 46471 16
Dolph Schayes* PHI 1950 1964 996 29800 15
Hal Greer* PHI 1959 1973 1122 39788 15
Kobe Bryant LAL 1997 2011* 1103 40145 15
Patrick Ewing* NYK 1986 2000 1039 37586 15
David Robinson* SAS 1990 2003 987 34271 14
Elgin Baylor* LAL 1959 1972 846 33863 14
Jerry West* LAL 1961 1974 932 36571 14
Joe Dumars* DET 1986 1999 1018 35139 14
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* LAL 1976 1989 1093 37492 14
Robert Parish* BOS 1981 1994 1106 34977 14
Tim Duncan SAS 1998 2011* 1053 37733 14
Alvan Adams PHO 1976 1988 988 27203 13
Bill Laimbeer DET 1982 1994 937 30602 13
Bill Russell* BOS 1957 1969 963 40726 13
Bob Cousy* BOS 1951 1963 917 30131 13
Calvin Murphy* HOU 1971 1983 1002 30607 13
Chris Mullin* GSW 1986 2001 807 28225 13
Dirk Nowitzki DAL 1999 2011* 993 36236 13
Fred Brown OKC 1972 1984 963 24422 13
Isiah Thomas* DET 1982 1994 979 35516 13
Kevin McHale* BOS 1981 1993 971 30118 13
Larry Bird* BOS 1980 1992 897 34443 13
Magic Johnson* LAL 1980 1996 906 33245 13
Michael Jordan* CHI 1985 1998 930 35887 13
Paul Pierce BOS 1999 2011* 964 35710 13
Tom Sanders* BOS 1961 1973 916 22164 13
Wes Unseld* WAS 1969 1981 984 35832 13
Gary Payton OKC 1991 2003 999 36858 13

A lot of Hall-of-Fame players here… including those who will join this group in the future and 4 of them are still playing in aforementioned teams so they will move up on this list.

Finally, a curiosity: which NBA players played on most teams during their career?

  • Jim Jackson [12 different teams], Joe Smith [12], Tony Massenburg [12], Chucky Brown [12],
  • Kevin Ollie [11],
  • Damon Jones [10], Mark Bryant [10], Aaron Williams [10],
  • Rod Strickland [9], Drew Gooden [9], Benoit Benjamin [9], Tyrone Corbin [9], Theo Ratliff [9], Mike James [9], Brevin Knight [9], Earl Boykins [9], Anthony Goldwire [9], Mikki Moore [9], Eddie House [9], Jaren Jackson [9], Tony Brown [9], Jason Hart [9], Tim Kempton [9], Randy Livingston [9], Greg Foster [9].

Journeymen’s Hall-of-Fame ;-)
BTW, from this list only Gooden and House are still active… will they break the record?

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2 Comments

Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Expanding Horizons

 

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2 responses to “For How Many Teams Average NBA Players Work for?

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