Do Preseason Wins Mean Anything?
October 20, 2010 -
I’ve never been one to put much stock in preseason results. These games are less about winning and more about fine-tuning rosters, evaluating young players, and experimenting with lineup combinations. Starters rarely play more than 30 minutes, and the best players are rarely on the floor at the end, even in close games.
That said, with last night's victory over the Lakers the Jazz are now 7-0 in the preseason, with 5 of those victories coming on the road and 6 coming against 2009-10 playoff teams. That’s gotta count for something, right?
Turns out there is a positive correlation (rated at 0.4 for you stats geeks) between preseason wins and regular-season performance. Since 2004-05, teams that post a winning record in the preseason have made the playoffs 65% of the time, whereas only 38% of teams with a losing preseason record made the postseason. Taking it a step further, every team that has gone undefeated or had only one loss during the preseason made the playoffs. Only one team, the 2007-08 Cavs, earned a playoffs berth after posting one win or less in the preseason.
While I’m encouraged by those statistics, I’m much more excited by the way the new-look Jazz have played than the fact that they have yet to lose. For example:
- I’m excited that Al Jefferson was able to frustrate (if not dominate) Pau Gasol at both ends of the court -- something Boozer could never dream of doing
- I’m excited that Andrei Kirilenko is playing with more confidence than I’ve seen from him in years
- I’m excited that baby-faced Gordon Hayward dropped 26 points on the Lakers (primarily against their starters) while showing off an array of all-around skills
- I’m excited that CJ Miles is embracing his new 6th-man role and providing a much-needed scoring punch off the bench
- I’m excited that Fesenko looks fitter, faster, and more focused than I've ever seen
- I’m excited that Jeremy Evans -- who can jump out of the gym -- is playing light years beyond my wildest expectations and could actually work his way into the rotation this season
- I’m excited that team defense seems to be improving as the preseason progresses
I could actually keep going, and that’s a testament to how good this team has looked. All these positive observations mean much more to me than an undefeated preseason record.
Still, I’d much be 7-0 than 0-7.