Tuesday, March 10

NBA Attendance, From Another Angle

In studying the NBA attendance figures this season, my eyes have gone a bit bloodshot entering in daily totals for every single team. Still, it hasn't been without its rewards, garnering such insights as:

-If every NBA team could play every game on Saturday night, the Sonics would be in KeyArena right now and David Stern would be wearing platinum-plated underwear instead of those miserable gold-plated boxers Larry O'Brien gave him in 1982. LeBron, Kobe, Shaq ... nobody has as much impact on an NBA team's attendance as a Saturday night.

-I don't know which is more worrying for the league, that the Bobcats are as popular in Charlotte as George Shinn biographies, or that the Pistons have dropped from the ranks of the Sellout Every Night Club. If the Pistons don't advance to the second round in the playoffs this season, I'm guessing next year might be a bit tough at Auburn Hills.

Sideways banter aside, allow me to provide you a new graph for your reading enjoyment. This time, I've taken the average attendance of every team and paired it with their standard deviation from said average.

NBA Attendance, Average & Deviation
You'll notice that fans of the teams grouped in the bottom right corner are those in no danger of seeing the word "relocation" any time soon in their local newspapers. Fans of those teams in the upper left and, especially, in the bottom left, on the other hand, are free to start their bitching about the inequities of modern professional sports. Not that it will do you any good, mind you, but I thought you ought to prepare.

As you'll gather by looking at the chart, teams which fall into the bottom left quadrant are victims of (1) low attendance and (2) apathy, in that their attendance is neither high on average nor on a once-a-month scenario, regardless of a LeBron sighting, a foam finger giveaway, or what have you.

Teams with high deviations, those at the top half of the graph, tend to have more fluctuations, which is why you'll see the Wizards and their schizophrenic attendance at the very peak, located nearby Charlotte, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, who have managed to get good numbers occasionally, but not often enough to off-set the bad nights.

The graph points out all too well how precarious the situation is in Sacramento these days. Not only is their average attendance quite poor, but it very rarely changes. Please don't take this to mean that I believe Kings' fans are unjustifiably apathetic. Far be it. Rather, I think they've been afflicted with the same malaise we've seen in other cities (cough, Seattle) that visits fans of teams with uncertain futures and miserable on-court play.


Anonymous said...

Good chart - makes a lot of sense. The only thing that might throw this off is arena capacity.

In other words, it's not too surprising that Wash & Det have higher-than-expected standard deviations (and attendance) - they also have the biggest arenas. Likewise, Orlando's effectiveness is likely understated due to having the smallest arena.

All that said, cool stuff. Great read.

Anonymous said...

That's a great point, and I didn't even consider it when putting this together. I suppose one way to rectify that would be to take the standard deviation and divide it by the capacity of the arena, although I'm not sure that would solve it, either. I suppose it might have helped if I had taken a math class since 1990 ...

Anonymous said...

Excellent chart.

Anonymous said...

What about New Orleans? Their attendance has been better than expected.


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