Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
We all can get carried away early on: How many games should a fan give a team before getting all excited/depressed?
Steve Aschburner: I’ve seen coaches fired sooner, but 20 games has been cited by several GMs and coaches whose work I respect as a legitimate amount of time to withhold judgment. Their thinking is, with a month of preseason and another month or so of games, you can see what’s not working, what is and what’s likely to trend from there. The exception to this quarter-pole outlook would be for teams who are anticipating a makeover via some rehabbing player — like Chicago, waiting for Derrick Rose — whose starting date comes later. For those teams, I’d say you need at least 20 games after the guy’s return.
Fran Blinebury: Twenty is a fair number, roughly a quarter of the season and enough opportunity to incorporate new players, philosophies, strategies and work out combinations. So back away from that panic button and the championship plans right now.
Jeff Caplan: I’ve learned that you can’t judge a team before it’s at least one-quarter into the season, so between 20-25 games. Chemistry, injuries and other issues have to be worked out, schedules even out, home and away, tough opponents and softer ones. Say, around Christmas, you’ll know what you’ve got.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Each situation is different. The Lakers, for example, should get about 15 games. They have new players and a new system, and one of the new players, Dwight Howard, is working back from a major injury while another, Steve Nash, just got sidelined. There is less time involved when struggling teams like the the Pistons, Wizards and Raptors, for example, start slow because they have a recent history of handing out depression. For them and their ilk, it just feels like more of the same.
John Schuhmann: I think the number is around 20 games. Every team and every season is different, injuries and trades will come into play, and four months seems like a lot of time to turn a season around. But on average, about 13 of the 16 teams that are in top eight of their conference after 20 games will still be there at the end of the season. And that mark is just a month away. So come early December, what you’ve seen is basically what you’re going to get.
Sekou Smith: I don’t subscribe to the theory that there is a magical number of games that can serve as the basis for an empirical study of what does and does not work, or who does or does not need to be fired. etc. Like our Mayan friends from yesteryear, I believe the calendar is our salvation. And specifically, the two major holidays that dot the calendar before we turn the page from 2012 to 2013. Thanksgiving is always a great gauge for me in terms of noticing certain trends and clearing the debris away to where you can see who is legit and who isn’t. The second stop is Christmas, traditionally a monster matchup day for contenders from both side of the conference. By the time that day is done, we have a better gauge of what’s what.