NBA Teams With Most, Least Roster Continuity

Over the last several months, dozens of NBA players have changed teams via free agency, dozens more have entered or exited the league, and a total of 35 trades have been made. After all that offseason activity, some teams will enter the 2021/22 season looking totally different than they did in the spring, while others will look pretty similar to last season’s squads.

While roster continuity is generally perceived as a sign of stability, carrying over a significant number of players from last year’s team doesn’t necessarily give a club a leg up entering a new season.

Heading into the 2020/21 season, for instance, the Pacers, Bulls, Spurs, and Magic were among the teams with the most roster continuity, but it didn’t help them make the playoffs. The Celtics and Heat were in that group too, and both clubs underachieved. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Sixers and Bucks were among the four teams with the most roster turnover — Philadelphia claimed the No. 1 seed in the East and Milwaukee won the title.

Entering the 2021/22 campaign, the Nuggets and Kings are the two teams bringing back the most players from last year’s end-of-season rosters (including two-way players), while the Lakers are – by a wide margin – the team that experienced the most roster turnover.

The Lakers are bringing back just three players from last year’s team, while no other club retained than fewer than seven players. Perhaps the fact that so many of L.A.’s newly-added players have prior experience with the team will help ease the transition this fall — three of the players who rejoined the Lakers this offseason (Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, and Avery Bradley) were part of the team that won a title in the Orlando bubble just over a year ago.

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

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

* The Nets’ count includes Kyrie Irving, since he technically remains on the roster; it doesn’t include LaMarcus Aldridge, who last played for Brooklyn but didn’t finish the season with the team.

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