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Utah Jazz History: Win percentage after 30 games doesn't always predict end of season success (or struggle)

Looking at every Jazz season from the end of Frank Layden till Quin Snyder

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are 13-16 after 30 games this season. They have played all 30 games without starting point guard Dante Exum. Furthermore, they have played 16 games without starting center Rudy Gobert. And also played four games without starting power forward Derrick Favors. These may appear to look like excuses. They are in a way. An alternative way to look at is could be that "how the heck are you going to win games playing so many of them without three starters?" It's been a less than ideal start for the team. The question I had was twofold: how bad is this start compared to others; and secondly, is a bad start indicative of a poor finish? To look at this I searched the last 30 seasons of Jazz basketball (from 1986-86 till 2015-16) to find the result.

And well, the TL;DR version of the answer has to be:

  1. This is one of the worst starts in the 30 season data set (4th worst)
  2. There is a positive correlation between 30 game Win% and Full season Win% of 0.777 -- so yeah, most of the time you can expect more of the same

I will add that, well, this year is different because two of the three starters currently out will not be out for the entire season. Furthermore, this opening schedule was brutal. And finally, let's not forget that this is usually a second half team under Quin Snyder. And with everyone (including Alec Burks) back after the All-Star break I can imagine another surge.

Data:

1987 2016 Utah Jazz after 30 games

Note: If you don't get the significance of the bottom bar colors, you better ask someone

In the 30 seasons the team has been .500 or above in 24 of the 30 "30 game" sets. In the 29 full seasons the team has been .500 or above in 25 of the 29 "full season" sets.

Thoughts:

The worst five starts are 1988 / 2006 (tie) (14 wins), 2016 (13), 2005 (11), 2015 (10), and 2014 (8). What's common between those seasons? Bad schedules are one. But the greater issue seems to just be roster talent and/or roster injuries. When guys are down or the team is shallow the team just doesn't win much. That makes sense. It also follows logical thought. If you have put out a sub .500 team on paper out there on the court, it's likely that they are going to play like a sub .500 team. Duh.

Better at 30 than at the end of the regular season? This has happened a few times, the ultimate "Fool's Gold" season was 2011 when the team looked GREAT after 30, only to be under .500 at the end. Hilarious. I wonder who coached that team? Probably one of the best coaches of all time . . . who then retires during the season.

Last season the team finished better than they started. And that happened two seasons ago as well. This could be a trend if the team does it for the third time in a row. I think it's possible. After all, we can't have freak injuries ALL season long, right?