Welcome to The Hook. Today we look at how frequently your favorite team is awesome or awful.
OF MICE AND MEN WHO SQUASH MICE WITH THEIR BOOTS
On Thursday, Jon Bois unveiled a terrific feature looking at how frequently the sporting cities of America see one of their Big Four teams win a championship. Mostly, it was a depressing affair for the South and anything on the Pacific Coast north of L.A. To be a sports fan is to be a masochist. These truths we hold to be self-evident.
I wanted to take a look at the NBA specifically, but it's common knowledge in basketball circles that unless you reside in Boston, L.A., San Antonio, Chicago, you're probably not going to see a title. Those teams account for 43 of the 65 NBA championships. Since 1991, they have won 16 of the 21 NBA championships. Because of that monopoly, fans of most other teams are simply screwed and will die lonely and sad and hungry. It's a fact.
While championships do dictate bragging rights and wonderment, winning seasons are also something that can bring joy to fans over sustained periods of time. I mean, the NBA regular season is long, after all. So I wanted to see which NBA cities have most regularly been blessed with a winning season. Given that not all winning seasons are created equal, I split winning seasons into "good seasons" and "really good seasons." While there are some issues in which fans may never consider their "really good season" a success (2010 Cavaliers spring to mind) while a "good season" can end in ultimate bliss (1977 Blazers, for example), the division is generally in line with postseason performance. To get the cut-off, I added one standard deviation to league average; any season with a 65 percent winning rate or better (54 wins in an 82-game season) is deemed a "really good season." Anything between .500 ball and .649 ball is a "good season".
I did the same for, uh, not winning seasons. Losing seasons. Depressing seasons. If you won 27 or fewer games (based on an 82-game schedule), you had a "really bad season". If you went worse than .500 but won at least 35 percent of your games, you just had a "bad season". (Woohoo!)
We went back to the first post-merger season, 1976-77. These are the results.
There's your top five in percentage of winning seasons since the merger. Yep, the Lakers have been above .500 in 91 percent of their seasons since 1977 (32 of 35). Simply unfair. The Blazers, Spurs, Jazz and Rockets have all remained competitive most of the time, as well.
The next cluster includes more Western teams and the old East powers like Boston, Detroit and ... uh, Atlanta? More on the Hawks in a bit.
There are the remainder of the teams with more winning seasons than losing seasons since the merger. Yep, it includes the Cleveland Cavaliers. Seven years of LeBron James definitely helped. Now, some teams that are usually losing.
Note that for cities which have had two different teams since the merger -- like New Orleans, with the Jazz and later the Hornets -- we combined their stats. For teams that arrived in their new town since the merger (like the Grizzlies), we included just the numbers for their current stop.
That's right, Vancouver: six years, not a single winning season. Note that just lagging Vancouver in futility are all three incarnations of the Clippers since the merger. The L.A. Clippers have three winning seasons in 27 years. The Warriors (10 winning seasons in 35 years) look downright superlative in comparison!
REALLY GOOD SEASONS
Who leads in "really good seasons"?
Shocking! Only one team has reached the "really good" level in more than half of their seasons since '77, and that team is the Lakers, with a filthy 63 percent of their seasons hitting that threshold. San Antonio has gotten there in almost half of the their seasons.
Which teams suffer from a lack of "really good seasons"?
That's right, Nets fans: 35 seasons, not one of which saw the team eclipse a 65 percent winning clip. The Clips are right there with 27 such seasons in L.A, and the Raptors are 16 seasons in without a really good season to their name. The Grizzlies haven't reach it either. The Kansas City Kings didn't get it there in the nine seasons that fit our parameters. Charlotte, between the Hornets and Bobcats, have hit the level once in 21 seasons.
Atlanta's an interesting case: one of top teams in terms of winning season frequency, but with just three really good seasons in 35 years. That team was "good" for a really long time (and now is again), which is better than "not good" but still aggravating.
REALLY BAD SEASONS
To see which teams suffer from the greatest share of losing seasons, flip that "good seasons" table upside down. (Hint: Clippers.) But what about "really bad seasons"? Watching your team go 39-42 sucks, but watching your team go 22-60 really sucks. Trust me, I know, for I am a Kings fan.
New Jersey -- who, reminder!, hasn't had a single "really good season" since the merger -- comes in with a stunning 13 "really bad seasons." The Clippers, Wolves and Kings all join the double-digit club. Dallas had a well-publicized lean stretch; we should all be so lucky to experience such a turnaround.
And yes, that's right: not only did Vancouver fail to experience a single winning season of Grizzlies basketball, but every season in B.C. for the team resulted in a winning percentage of less than .350. So painful.
Which teams have gone without a "really bad season"?
Paul Flannery of WEEI.com was kind enough to have me on his excellent Talking Hoops podcast this week. We discussed the NBA lockout, competitive balance and the reason we cannot have nice things. Take a listen, if you please.
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