A Reversal of Fortunes

April 4th, 2011 | by K.Malphurs

Any casual Jazz fan has noticed the incredible nosedive this year’s team has taken since the middle of the season. John Hollinger wrote about it in his Friday column on ESPN:

It’s hard to remember now, but the Utah Jazz were once 14 games over .500 and pulled into midseason at 27-14; they have won only nine games since. The Playoff Odds peg them to finish with 38 wins, which would put them at 11-30 after the midpoint of the schedule. That’s quite a turnaround, eh? Utah would go from 13 games over .500 at the 41-game mark to 19-under afterward, a 32-game switcheroo.

If so, they’ll make history. According to Elias, the Jazz are approaching a rather depressing milestone — the biggest in-season U-turn since the NBA switched to an 82-game schedule in 1967-68 (see chart). With seven games remaining, the Jazz have already clinched a tie for third place on the list and will cement their status as the worst with losses in just three of their final seven contests. Given that six of their final seven are against likely playoff teams and four are on the road, I think we can start planning the ceremony.

What is interesting is when one compares last year with this year. Last year’s team started off slow and then ended the year very strong. This year’s team has followed the opposite path. I have broken down each season into half intervals below:

  • 1st half of the 2009/2010 Season: 23-18: 56% Win Percentage
  • 2nd half of the 2009/2010 Season: 30-11: 73% Win Percentage
  • 1st half of the 2010/2011 Season: 27-14: 66% Win Percentage
  • 2nd half of the 2010/2011 Season: 9-27: 25% Win Percentage

The crazy thing about that is over a year time period the Jazz were a 57 win team. The problem is that year was a combination of the 2nd half of last year with the 1st half of this year. To give you a point of reference, 57 wins would have tied the Lakers for 1st in the Western Conference last year. Now, they are winning only 25% of their games, which would put them at a rate consistent with the Washington Wizards.

Finally, I wanted to share with you a graph that shows how both last year’s team and this year’s team have had a complete reversal of fortunes. The graph’s line is simple in that it goes up a notch when the Jazz won and goes down when the Jazz lost. The line represents how many games above .500 the Jazz were at each point of the season through 77 games.

From the graph it is easy to see how depressing this 2nd half of the year has been compared to the way the Jazz had been playing. They have gone from being the Lakers to being the Wizards.


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