February 3, 2014

How Many Miles does Each NBA team travel during the season?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 12:15 pm

I am excited to be teaching a Sports and Math class at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. I have developed many cool spreadsheets for the class. One of them computes the total distance each team travels during the season. The results are shown below. It might surprise you that Minnesota travels the most miles. The reason probably is that Minnesota isĀ  one of the more eastern (and certainly more northern!) teams in the Western ConferenceĀ  so none of their Western Conference road games are very close. Golden State and Portland travel the 2nd and 3rd most miles, while the Cavs travel the least. At least Cleveland leads in something!


Team Distance Rank
Atlanta Hawks 45052.2 11
Boston Celtics 45431.87 8
Brooklyn Nets 39421.44 25
Charlotte Bobcats 40745.3 21
Chicago Bulls 39108.15 26
Cleveland Cavaliers 37798.78 30
Dallas Mavericks 40183.59 24
Denver Nuggets 43327.77 17
Detroit Pistons 40289.5 23
Golden State Warriors 50972.03 2
Houston Rockets 45290.23 9
Indiana Pacers 38780.76 29
Los Angeles Clippers 43359.53 16
Los Angeles Lakers 49590.15 5
Memphis Grizzlies 45128 10
Miami Heat 43474.76 15
Milwaukee Bucks 42305.02 19
Minnesota Timberwolves 53690.74 1
New Orleans Pelicans 41854.55 20
New York Knicks 42499.81 18
Oklahoma City Thunder 46324.89 7
Orlando Magic 43560.7 14
Philadelphia 76ers 38952.76 28
Phoenix Suns 50295.17 4
Portland Trail Blazers 50655.88 3
Sacramento Kings 44459.92 13
San Antonio Spurs 48876.06 6
Toronto Raptors 40346.38 22
Utah Jazz 44497.62 12
Washington Wizards 39030.74 27


  1. Why the big disparity between the Lakers and the Clippers?

    Comment by Eric — February 3, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

  2. Really cool stuff. I had done this with the NFL this year (got the team/stadium co-ordinates off of wikipedia), got the fixtures list and got Excel to calculate the Haversine formula for me between the two points and totalled it up. Out of interest, does distance travelled have any effect on expected wins or predicted points (e.g. teams travelling over say 1300 miles to a game, score 8 points per game less than expected via the Stern approach or teams travelling over 45,000 miles per season, have 3 less pythagorean wins than expected etc.).

    Comment by George — February 4, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  3. Good question. I guess sequence of games caused the disparity because they place in same place and play same opponents.

    Comment by wwinston — February 4, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

  4. Thanks. Have not had time to check on travel impact. I am going to look at back to backs and 4 in 5 nights.

    Comment by wwinston — February 4, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

  5. I’d also be interested to see which team has the most STD’s.

    Comment by Thomas Schultz — February 6, 2014 @ 3:26 am

  6. Thanks. I have added individual Home Field Advantages to my least squares model (it reduced the sum on average by about 5% but have only tried this for the NFL so far though), and then tried to do an adjustment based on travelled distance e.g. points added or subtracted from a teams total based on distance travelled for the opposing team say solving a variable for teams travelling 0-500 miles, 500-1500 miles, and 1500-3000miles – but it didn’t work out very well or make that much difference (less than 1% on average). I just figure there will be a cut-off distance which will make a difference.

    Comment by George — February 6, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

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