Sunday Thought - Does Pre-Season Mean Anything?


The Raptors won as many pre-season games as they lost.  So what?  In this edition of "Sunday Thought," Franchise looks at if there's anything fans can take from pre-season play besides clubs getting their players ready for the main event...

We've seen lots of folks tell fans not to put any stock in pre-season play because....well...it's pre-season.

Great.

However I got wondering earlier in the week if there was anything more to pre-season than just getting players in shape, used to each other and on the same page regarding team plays etc.

So, I decided to do a little analysis, albeit a fairly basic one.

I went back and made the following table with Toronto's pre-season and reg season records over the past nine years to see if there was anything one could glean from the data:

Preseason

Win

Loss

%

Reg Season

Win

Loss

%

2010-11

Toronto

4

4

50%

?

?

2009-10

Toronto

2

6

25%

Toronto

40

42

49%

2008-09

Toronto

4

4

50%

Toronto

33

49

40%

2007-08

Toronto

5

2

71%

Toronto

41

41

50%

2006-07

Toronto

6

1

86%

Toronto

47

35

57%

2005-06

Toronto

3

4

43%

Toronto

27

55

33%

2004-05

Toronto

2

5

29%

Toronto

33

49

40%

2003-04

Toronto

4

2

67%

Toronto

33

49

40%

2002-03

Toronto

3

5

38%

Toronto

24

58

29%

2001-02

Toronto

5

1

83%

Toronto

42

40

51%

Anything jump out at you?

To me there's one piece and that's that Toronto has had its best regular season records in the same year as it's posted excellent pre-season marks too.  The Raptors went a collective 11 and 3 in pre-season from 2006 to 2008 and won 57 and 50% of their regular season games those years respectively too.

Outside of that it's a bit blurry, but without doing any big correlation analysis such as a T Test, I think you can see that in years where the team's struggled in pre-season, this has generally manifested itself in a mediocre to poor regular season.

Of course there are so many caveats to this sort of basic analysis.

Opponents don't play their best players, hell the Raptors themselves don't, or don't have their rotations set until perhaps very late in pre-season.  So it's hard to just say A = B for something like this.

In reality, I think pre-season means something when it does as close a job as possible of recreating what is most likely to occur in the regular season.  That is to say if Team A dominates Team B in pre-season, and both are playing their top players and regular rotations, there's a good chance we see a recreation of Team A beating Team B come regular season.

That's why for Toronto I thought this was a fairly efficient pre-season schedule.  The team beat the opponents it should have (Philly, Phoenix twice and New York), however struggled against the Bulls' and Celtics' clubs that were also on the pre-season docket.

So does pre-season mean anything?

I think so, but as we've discussed, it's probably more useful as a directional trending analysis than one that tells fans anything concrete about a team's forthcoming regular season performance.

Granted it would be interesting to do the same face-level analysis with the entire league, but for now, we'll leave it at that.

The regular season is around the corner, and we've got a few previews to finish off...

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