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A Concern For the Clippers The assertion that "continuity matters in a shortened season" may on...

A Concern For the Clippers The assertion that "continuity matters in a shortened season" may on the surface sound like a lazy explanation to a complicated topic, but when you look deeper into the data it seems that continuity does matter. We find a handy measure of continuity. For these purposes, we'll take a look at percentage of minutes retained from last season (retention percentage). It tells us the percentage of this season's minutes that are coming from returning players. The Oklahoma City Thunder boast an absurdly high percentage of returning players (95.5 percent of 2011-12's minutes have been played by returning players). On the other end of the spectrum, the Clippers pretty much overhauled the roster around Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (54.7 percent retention). But do familiar teams actually play better in a crunch? It sure seems that way. The following chart illustrates the relationship of continuity and performance in back-to-backs. If you're a coach, you want to see your team in the top right of the chart: good performance and familiar faces. The bottom left? Well, that's when you get some ugly play along with some new faces. Sorry, Clippers fans. [Ugh, the graph won't post. The Clips have the lowest continuity rating, and they're in the bottom third in terms of back-to-back performance] Evidently, continuity isn't just an empty load of coachspeak: We're seeing a pretty consistent relationship above (and a stronger relationship than what we see in regular games). Teams that play well on back-to-backs tend to have a lot of continuity on their roster. Other teams have struggled with their new teammates when they hit the grind. You rarely see a team with low continuity and a good record or a bad record and a high retention rate (notice the empty pockets in the bottom right and top left corners). The Clippers, as good as they might be, have really struggled to maintain their performance when they play without any rest. So it's not just that bad teams play poorly; unfamiliar ones do, too.

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