NBA Teams With Most, Least Roster Continuity

The NBA’s offseason felt awfully busy, with free agency opening just two days after the draft and training camps starting about 10 days later. As hectic as those couple weeks were though, they actually didn’t feature a ton of player movement relative to a typical offseason.

A year ago, for instance, when we looked at the teams with the most and least roster continuity from year to year, we found that only one team was bringing back 13 players (counting two-ways) from its previous squad, while a total of four had 11 or more returning players.

This time around, seven clubs are bringing back 13 or more players from their end-of-season 2019/20 rosters, and a total of 18 teams will have 11 or more returning players. The Bulls and Pacers lead the way, having carried over 14 players apiece.

While the condensed offseason made for an exciting November, the quick turnaround also likely played a major part in teams’ decisions to stand relatively pat. Without a Summer League or the opportunity to conduct offseason mini-camps, teams haven’t had a lot of time to integrate new players, and have generally opted for as much continuity as possible.

Of course, while that may have been the general rule for the 2020 offseason, it certainly doesn’t apply to every team. A year ago, seven teams – including the eventual-champion Lakers – brought back just six players from their 2018/19 rosters. This time around, two clubs had that much turnover.

Of those two clubs, one – the Pistons – exhibited an impressive disregard for roster continuity, retaining just four players (Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Sekou Doumbouya, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk) from last season’s roster. That’s the lowest number of returning players a team has had to start a season since the 2017 Celtics.

Here are the number of returning players for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, from most to fewest:

  1. Chicago Bulls: 14
    Indiana Pacers: 14
  2. Boston Celtics: 13
    Brooklyn Nets: 13
    Memphis Grizzlies: 13
    Miami Heat: 13
    San Antonio Spurs: 13
  3. Golden State Warriors: 12
    Orlando Magic: 12
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers: 11
    Los Angeles Clippers: 11
    Los Angeles Lakers: 11
    Minnesota Timberwolves: 11
    New York Knicks: 11
    Sacramento Kings: 11
    Toronto Raptors: 11
    Utah Jazz: 11
    Washington Wizards: 11
  5. Charlotte Hornets: 10
    Dallas Mavericks: 10
    Denver Nuggets: 10
  6. Portland Trail Blazers: 9
  7. Atlanta Hawks: 8
    Houston Rockets: 8
    New Orleans Pelicans: 8
    Phoenix Suns: 8
  8. Milwaukee Bucks: 7
    Philadelphia 76ers: 7
  9. Oklahoma City Thunder: 6
  10. Detroit Pistons: 4
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6 thoughts on “NBA Teams With Most, Least Roster Continuity

  1. Sillivan

    Knicks keep 11 players to compete
    Knicks don’t have assets to trade for superstars
    Knicks don’t sign good free agents
    If Knicks select Cade Cunningham they won’t make playoffs next year

  2. hiflew

    What part of the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls season suggested to management that this was the team worth sticking with?

    • Black Ace57

      The reason that a new front office keeps the roster mostly the same is for evaluation purposes. They want to see what these players can do with a real head coach now and want to evaluate them personally. Then, they can decide who to keep and trade. They need to make decisions on Lavine, Markannen, Carter, Williams, and White to decide on the future core.

      This is a different sport, but I remember reading articles that in baseball when there is a new GM, some of the worst trades they make happen in the first 3-6 months or so since they haven’t properly evaluated the farm system or major league roster yet. I assume the principle is the same here.

      • bravesfan88

        You are EXACTLY correct BlackAce. Especially the part about evaluating their players with a REAL HC!! Boylen was a joke, and horribly misused Markkanen and WCJ..Among others

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Wow surprised to see Bucks at bottom. This means they really tried to change team around Giannis. Or around it’s core. This is a good sign to me. You always think good teams would change the least.

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