Daily Archives: November 28, 2011

20-Year History of Missed Games in the NBA

Because of a lockout this year there will be an unusually packed schedule in the NBA which undoubtedly contributed to a theory that we are going to see more injuries this season. Don’t get me wrong, I think this idea sounds plausible because… well, I know how I feel after playing basketball too often in short period (muscle injury or ligament tear waiting to happen). But could it be also a reason why we overrate this issue? I’m not an athlete and I don’t usually play any back-to-backs so maybe that’s why I feel this way when I do…

Beside this point, have you ever wondered do players miss more games now than they used to?
Which teams’ players missed the most and least games in the last decade?

Well, I have so here’s how I tackled those topics:
I considered counting injuries at but there’s one huge problem with this approach:
5 or even 10 day-to-day injuries are usually less significant than one semi-serious knee injury because of time needed for healing and rehabilitation. So why not try to measure the main effect of injuries which is missed games? That’s exactly what I’ve tried to accomplish. I downloaded data from last 20 seasons from, then in each season I sorted it by team’s name and then by players’ minutes per game.
I deleted all players who were 7th or lower on their own team and counted how many games such group played versus how many games they would have played given full 82 games schedule [or 50 in 1998-99].
My rationale here is “let’s count starters and 6th man, the rest doesn’t matter”.

In other words, for players considered the most important by their own teams what percentage of available regular season games did they miss?

Unfortunately it’s not a perfect tool, for example it totally ignores tanking or players who missed entire season because they were injured in the offseason, so if you have a better idea let me know in the comments.

With all that in mind here are the results:
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Scrutiny


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