In my last post about Distance Traveled by NBA Teams during a Season I offered an innocent curiosity… but quite typically for me it lead to more questions plus more serious questions… and man, I went big this time.
Instinctively I wrote about Portland’s loneliness on the US map with recent team’s relocations from Seattle and Vancouver and then I hit me… wait a second, I can check the influence of those changes!
Average journey for each NBA team in a single season? That’s nice… but how about the whole history?
I could finally settle the issue how amount of travel actually has changed through league’s history!
So while I was fired up I got my hands dirty, this time with schedules from basketball-reference.com
[but I still used latitude and longitude of U.S. and Canadian Cities from infoplease.com and an algorithm converting it into distance in miles from meridianworlddata.com] but before we look at the results a couple of technical notes which you should keep in mind:
- I totally ignored random games in temporary locations but I included changes which lasted at least a season. So for example, Nets spent one year in New York so I accounted for that in calculations but if the same Nets played a game in Kansas due to some difficulties I assumed they played at home. In recent decades this point probably doesn’t matter but in early days of the NBA it could have some impact.
- I totally ignored exhibition games like those in London or Tokyo and I assumed they were played in team’s arena. There were few of them and I prefered to save some time than play with such details.
- This batch of numbers in some cases is slightly different than in my previous post because there I used scheduled games and here I used games when they actually happened [so any postponed games made a tiny difference here].
OK, that’s enough, here’s what I dug out from that goldmine of information so far…
Let’s start with a graph of Total Journeys by NBA Teams Over 800 Miles per Season [which is easier to digest version of Total Miles Traveled per team because there's a 0.99 correlation between those two]:
… and here’s a big one: Average Miles Traveled by NBA Team per Season per Game Since 1952
Even though there’s a lot of data involved I think conclusions are pretty simple:
1)Shockingly in the 60s players traveled more per game than in the 90s!
And in a worse means of transport. Yikes…
2) Expansion through US cities obviously added a lot of total miles for each team,
3) Changing divisions for Chicago, San Antonio and Houston before 1980-81 season worked out nicely…
4) In the last 20 years NBA either used similar schedule or they figured out the most optimal version of it.
Finally, here’s a breakdown for each city/team:
|City/Team||Start||Finish||Average Miles Traveled
per Game since 1952
|Games||# Over 800 Miles||% of Such games|
Well, if amount of travel was NBA’s goal then Vancouver and Seattle deserved to lose a team…
and Portland might be next! On the other hand there’s still a midwest bias ;-)
Also, have I found a reason why relocation to San Francisco might not be a good idea?
P.S. If you want to know something specific from this dataset, let me know in the comments.
Also so much data led to another post about Patterns in All-Time NBA Schedule.