The Pacers have struggled in the preseason thus far, losing their first three games by a combined score of 306-263. Fans have been able to maintain optimism by reminding themselves it's only the preseason. Unfortunately, Scott Sereday, of the ESPN Truehoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell, brought a little rain to that parade today.
Sereday posted an analysis of a team's record as a predictor of their regular season success. His numbers, which go back to 2001/2002, show that a team's preseason performance is actually a reasonably accurate predictor of how the team will fair in the regular season. For each team over that time period he compared their wins, to their estimated Win% for the previous season, the preseason, and the first 8 games of the regular season. His findings in his own words:
One other factor that he looked at was the skewed minute distribution which occurs during the preseason. As teams experiment with various lineup combinations, the best players on each team inevitably see fewer minutes than they would during the regular season. Sereday found that starters typically play about 70% of their regular season minutes during the preseason. The closer a team was to that minute distribution during the preseason, the better a predictor the preseason was of their regular season success. In fact he found:
- Roy Hibbert - 32 MPG
- Josh McRoberts - 32 MPG
- Danny Granger - 36 MPG
- Mike Dunleavy - 30 MPG
- Darren Collison - 32 MPG
With their MPG averages so far in the preseason, the Pacers' starting lineup is playing roughly 74% of the minutes we would expect them to play during the regular season. Unfortunately, this number would indicate that their preseason performance is a more accurate predictor of what to expect in the regular season.
The Pacers' still have four preseason games left in which they could turn things around, and all is not lost. In fact, Sereday cautions Spurs fans not to read too much into their team's preseason performance, despite his analysis. It's still the preseason, I know, but with numbers like this my worries begin to feel a lot more justified.