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Illustrating the Detroit Pistons’ playing time youth movement

If you’ve been watching the Pistons lately, you’ve surely noticed young players – especially Greg Monroe and Austin Daye – have been getting bigger roles. For years, many have questioned the Pistons’ inability to develop young players, but Detroit appears to be making substantial changes in that department lately.

Hoopism first displayed a graphic with every team’s average age per minute played, and the Pistons ranked among the league’s oldest. But that graph doesn’t show Detroit’s average age per minute played has trended downward during the season.

A few explanatory notes:

  • Will Bynum didn’t turn 28 until Jan. 4, but I counted his age as 28 all season. For all other players, I used their current age.
  • The solid red line represents the Pistons’ season average (27.69).
  • The dotted red line represents a linear regression.
  • The blue line represents the Pistons’ average age per minute played in each game.

That’s a statistically significant decline.

Some of the downturn can be tied to Ben Wallace’s injury, but the drop began before that. When he returns, Detroit’s average age per minute played will surely go up, but we’ll see how much. Monroe, the team’s youngest player, has earned playing time.

To add context, I added a few red reference lines:

  • NBA average (26.77)
  • Dallas Mavericks (31.09) – the league’s oldest team per minute played
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (23.59) – the league’s youngest team per minute played
  • Milwaukee Bucks (26.68) – the team directly above the Pistons in the standings
  • Toronto Raptors (24.97) – the team directly below the Pistons in the standings
  • Phoenix Suns (29.59) – the league’s oldest team per minute played with a losing record


  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Detroit Locksmith, Patrick Hayes and James Herbert. James Herbert said: Detroit is playing its younger guys! http://bit.ly/hkF6NY [...]

  • Jan 19, 20119:19 am
    by hoopism


    Incredibly jealous of this post.  Awesome work.

  • Jan 19, 201110:50 am
    by Quin


    Thanks for the chart.  Good job.  I wonder how this “average age per minute played” data correlates with wins/losses.  Basically, how great is the risk of playing younger players over the season, or better yet, throughout the league.  You could even relate that to the quality (draft number) of players.  Ahh, this takes me back to college stats.

  • Jan 19, 20112:12 pm
    by hoopism


    So this is based on the year?  We had an original that only used age by year but ended up changing over to do by the day.  With such small margins in age it seemed significant.  If you need bdays I can crank them out for you.  Again, awesome stuff.

  • Jan 19, 20114:11 pm
    by Rodman4Life


    Don’t sign Mutombo or we’re screwed!!

  • [...] The young guys are playing more in Detroit as the season goes on, which is probably as it should [...]

  • Jan 24, 20113:18 am
    by Dan Feldman


    Hoopism, thanks for the kind words, but you have nothing to be jealous about. Your stuff is amazing.

    I have the days, but I cut them out. I’ll use them next time. I didn’t want the age creeping up during the season just because everyone has gotten a day older. Next time, I’ll include everyone’s age, including days, on the first day of the season. Thanks for the tip.

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