Roster Improvements Doesn’t Necessarily Mean More Wins for Hornets

Published: August 22, 2012

When it comes to predicting how the team will fare this season, McNamara argues that some people have it all wrong.

It’s the dead season right now in the NBA, and that means fans and media are reaching at straws to find topics that can quench our thirst for basketball after a captivating season and an equally exciting summer. Now that the draft has taken place, trades have been made, and free agents are all signed, it is only natural that fans and media alike move on to projecting the upcoming season. Different forms of analysis are used; everything from running simulations to forming panels in order to arrive at a consensus. Our own Mason Ginsberg attempted to predict each player’s minutes and PER to determine the subsequent effect that it may have on each team’s expected wins and losses.

Are these methods foolproof? Of course not, but at least they are sound forms of analysis, based off of some sort of calculable measure. There is another form of analysis, another form of argument that gets it all wrong however and it is a splinter inside of my mind that must be removed before I can move forward. It is an argument that not only Hornets fans, but fans of all teams in all sports make that simply drives me crazy and it goes as follows:

We won [insert number here] games last year and we improved our roster so that means that we are going to win at least [insert larger number here] games this season.

This is a terrible argument. In fact, it is worse than terrible. It is simply non-sensical and unsound. It is the exact type of argument that we have to put an end to in order to engage in a more well-informed discussion. First things first, I want to clarify why it is a terrible argument. You see, most people tend to think that a good argument is an argument that proves to be true. That simply is not the case. Let’s assume somebody who never met me were to say the following after reading this article:

This writer is Michael McNamara

McNamara is an Irish name

Michael McNamara must drive a Subaru Outback.

Now, even though this person’s conclusion is true, this argument is not sound because there is nothing that connects their premises to their conclusion. Similarly, saying that the Hornets will win more games than they did last year because of perceived roster improvements is a statement that may eventually prove to be true, but the form of the argument is still incredibly poor.

The number of wins or winning percentage of the 2011-12 New Orleans Hornets has absolutely nothing to do with how many wins the 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets will produce. Zip. Zilch. Nada.  The 2011-12 Hornets won 21 games, but that is not an absolute. If that season was played in 1,000 different universes, the Hornets would not have won 21 games in each one of those universes. That team was not, by definition, a 21 win team. Yes, they happened to win 21 games, but that was not a necessary and sufficient characteristic of the 2011-12 New Orleans Hornets.

Furthermore, the 2012-13 Hornets do not play the 2011-12 New Orleans Hornets schedule. They do not even play one team that is identical to a team that the previous years’ team played. They are tackling an entirely different obstacle with an entirely different set of circumstances and variables. Using the 2011-12 Hornets as a baseline for the next year’s performance would make us much sense as using your buddies luck in blackjack to predict your luck in No-Limit Texas Hold-Em.

Let’s look at another sport to see how ridiculous this common argument truly is when it is used. John Thrasher is a UFC Middleweight that is 6-4 in his first ten UFC contests. Now, word out of his camp is that his takedown defense is dramatically improved and his punching power has increased by nearly 15%. With that new-found knowledge, can you say that he is a lock to win at least seven out of his next ten fights, if not more? Of course not, but why?

Because he is going to be fighting completely different opponents, and beyond that, there is the randomness of the next ten, not to mention the uncertainty of what truly happened in the first ten. Perhaps, in one of his six victories, he fought poorly but caught another fighter on a worse night (as the Hornets did when they defeated the Bobcats at Charlotte this past year). Against any other fighter, he would have lost. This is my point when I say that your record isn’t necessarily a proper indicator of the quality of team (or fighter) that you truly are overall.

In his next batch of ten fights, he might have a bad fight on a night when a worse fighter has a good one and subsequently lose. He might have a good fight on a night when an equal fighter has the bout of his life; losing again. The point is that his previous ten fights and his increased skill set really has nothing to do with his next ten fights when so many variables in the equation have been changed.

So, what are some of the variables when it comes to the 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets, besides the schedule of course? Well first of all, there are dozens of variables inside of the schedule change. But beyond that, how about the effort of the opposing teams? We saw it time after time last year and acknowledged it while it was happening- teams simply did not play us for 48 minutes the way that they would play a team they respected. We all optimistically point to how many close games that we lost but fail to admit that we went into most of those fourth quarters with decent sized leads before the other team decided to finally wake up and put their foot on our throats. I don’t expect the same level of disrespect, nor to I expect teams to enter the Hive this year with the nonchalant attitude that they greeted our bees with last year.

We can also assume that there will be a different psychology surrounding the Hornets this season. Possibly gone is the “us against the world” mentality that was derived from the fact that New Orleans was in the only team in the NBA without an owner. Perhaps there will be less hunger in the locker room, as the roster went from guys scratching and clawing for just a chance to play in the NBA to one where a few guys got legitimately paid and a couple of rookies are being anointed despite the fact that they never played an NBA game.

And of course there are hundreds of variables that can push the win total in the opposite direction, catapulting the Hornets into the Western Conference playoff picture. Maybe the Hornets face San Antonio on the nights when Popovich decides to sit his three stars or they get the Lakers on a night when Dwight and Nash are getting a couples massage on their ailing backs. The point of this article is not to try to accurately predict how many games the Hornets, or any other NBA team for that matter, will win next season. I simply desire to put an end to this ridiculous argument that I see far too often in favor of a more intelligent discourse. And now that the splinter has been plucked from my brain, the onus is on each and every one of you to disarm others who try to wield this false logic in the future.

Message boards and comment sections are a dangerous place, so I send you out there knowing that you may never return, but believing that the sacrifice you make in doing this will benefit future generations who may never be subject to such an argument if we succeed. That, my friends, is something worth [internet] dying for.



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