Much has been made this year about the reduction in minutes for the Piston starters. That got me to thinking… “I wonder how many minutes the starters on recent NBA Championship teams have played?” So, here you have it, the average minutes played for the core guys of the last 10 Champs: Well, the minutes played over the last 6 seasons have been around 29-31 minutes. The exception to that was the 2004 Pistons, where starters averaged 34.4 minutes. The 2001 Lakers played the heaviest minutes over the last decade, averaging 35.0 mpg. Okay, the Pistons played 34.4 mpg and still won the ‘Ship in 2004, but the last few seasons the minutes increased and it was these “dead legs”, of course, that cost them more titles. Well, not so fast. Let’s see how the minutes fared since the 2004 run: In Larry Brown’s second season, the mpg spiked to an all-time high of 36.3. We all remember, of course, that team narrowly missed a repeat title. In the first two seasons of the Flip Saunders era, the mpg actually dropped an average of one minute per game, resulting in back-to-back ECF losses. Last season the mpg were back down to the exact same level as the ’04 Championship season. In 2008, the starter minutes dropped significantly. The 31.7 mpg is eerily close to the 31.9 mpg average of the last 10 NBA Championship teams. What does it all mean? Who knows? Ask me again in 2 months.