RSS

Average NBA Career Length for Coaches and GMs

24 Nov

After a post about average NBA career length for players I feel like there’s a follow-up needed…
the same information about coaches and general managers ;-)

On one hand gathering data for this one was easier because pages at basketball-reference.com about coaches and GMs include columns “years spent in the NBA” but on the other hand age information required checking all coaches individually. Well, you can’t always have such beautiful database suited to your strange questions ;-)

As you can easily calculate from above links Average NBA Career Length for 294 Coaches is 5,05 years.
So barely longer than players. Is it surprising or not?

Below is a full breakdown [I had to use 5-year intervals because of small one-year sample sizes]:

Years Average Age in First Season Average Age in Last Season Number of Coaches Years Average Career Length Number of Coaches
1947-1951 33,00 33,20 15 1947-1951 1,27 37
1952-1956 37,67 41,50 6 1952-1956 4,22 9
1957-1961 31,77 34,23 13 1957-1961 3,27 15
1962-1966 32,00 39,67 6 1962-1966 4,89 9
1967-1971 31,67 37,92 12 1967-1971 5,00 13
1972-1976 36,83 40,08 12 1972-1976 2,78 18
1977-1981 38,38 43,08 13 1977-1981 3,75 16
1982-1986 41,00 50,71 7 1982-1986 6,82 11
1987-1991 39,70 49,70 10 1987-1991 6,65 17
1992-1996 41,21 47,93 14 1992-1996 4,57 23
1997-2001 40,18 51,00 17 1997-2001 6,46 26
2002-2006 41,95 51,05 21 2002-2006 5,07 29
2007-2011 41,75 52,66 53 2007-2011 7,37 71

And in a form of graph…

For your information, group labeled “2007-2011” include coaches who are still active…

Here’s a historical distribution of career lengths [for those coaches who stopped before last season]…

Career Length
in Years
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Number of
such Careers
84 48 28 20 14 11 9 8 10 4
Career Length
in Years
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Number of
such Careers
2 2 3 3 1 0 3 2 0 1
Career Length
in Years
21 22 23 24 25 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 31 32+
Number of
such Careers
2 1 0 1 2 0 1 1

Outliers are Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens ;-)

Here’s a similar breakdown for coaches who were active last season [so most of them can become longer]…

Career Length
in Years
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Number of
such Careers
5 2 5 0 2 0 1 0 5 1
Career Length
in Years
11 12 13, 14 15 16, 17, 18, 19 20 21, 22 23 24, 25 26+
Number of
such Careers
4 1 0 2 0 2 0 1 0 2

Outliers are Jerry Sloan and Larry Brown. Speaking of old-timers…
here’s a graph of average age for coaches who have just started and finished their careers in the NBA.

Unfortunately not all coaches have information about their age available but for those 199 who do… Average Age of Coaches who have just started their Careers is 38,62 while on average they are done at 46,13.

So is it a coincidence that coaches start their careers later while players’ last longer?
I don’t think so but that’s just a guess. Also we can also see an effect of expansions here.

Do different accomplishments improve coaches chances for a longer career?

I’d say yes because…
Coaches who won at least 50% of their games in a career lasted on average 8,38 years.
Coaches who won at least one Coach of the Year Award spent 12,68 years in the NBA.
Coaches who won at least one championship are “almost” immortals at 13,9 years.

Surprisingly, at least for me, correlation coefficient between winning percentage and career length is 0,4341…
so only 19% of coaches’ longevity can be explained by their team’s performance? That’s strange isn’t it?

And finally, Average NBA Career Length for 245 General Managers is 5,6 years!
I seriously need to write a rant about confusing nature of this business ;-)
Especially when you consider things like fired coaches and money involved in this process

Advertisements
 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Expanding Horizons

 

Tags: , , , , ,

6 responses to “Average NBA Career Length for Coaches and GMs

  1. Leszczur

    November 25, 2011 at 14:08

    Instead of complaining what else this post should contain let me add something that will put averages into perspective. Here’s the split of 326 coaches reported by b-r.com when looking at lenght of service in nba in years:
    Over 30 years as head coach: 6 (1.8%)
    20-29 years: 27 (8.2%)
    10-19 yeras: 60 (18.4%)
    5-9 years: 48 (14.7%)
    3-4 years: 39 (11.9%)
    1-2 years: 146 (44.8%)

    So when we talk coaches careers – it may be 5 years on average, but median will be around 2.5 years, which I think will be less than for NBA players.

     
    • wiLQ

      November 25, 2011 at 14:14

      Nice… but median is also 3 but again without using partial seasons.

       
  2. Max Generation

    November 28, 2011 at 04:01

    Hey there, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Firefox, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, superb blog!

     
  3. russell1200

    January 31, 2015 at 04:01

    This was really good. But a few long lasting coaches stretch out the average. The median, the point at which half of the retired coach/gm had already left the game (if I didn’t mess up my quick addition) is only 2 years. When I did the players it came out to just shy of 3 years. The difference being that the physical limitation on players is more concrete than the mental one for the coach/gm.

     
    • wiLQ

      February 23, 2015 at 16:20

      Good additional information! But that’s just the difference between average and median, they focus on another angle and the possibilty of very long career exists even though it’s rare.

       

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s