Where Should Royce White Play? A Look at Travel Statistics For Each NBA Team

Royce White has anxiety issues.  Being a professional athlete with anxiety issues can’t be any better.  And yet nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see Royce White actively trying to manage his disorder, flying less and driving more for away games whenever possible.

With the Houston-Royce White relationship deteriorating over the past week, I began wondering what team would be best suited to White’s ability to manage his anxiety.  While understanding that anxiety disorders are complex things, I looked at each NBA team’s 2012-2013 schedules to see if certain teams had more convenient travel schedules.

Royce White has anxiety issues.  Being a professional athlete with anxiety issues can’t be any better.  And yet nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see Royce White actively trying to manage his disorder, flying less and driving more for away games whenever possible.

With the Houston-Royce White relationship deteriorating over the past week, I began wondering what team would be best suited to White’s ability to manage his anxiety.  While understanding that anxiety disorders are complex things, I looked at each NBA team’s 2012-2013 schedules to see if certain teams had more convenient travel schedules.

Total Distance Traveled

The most logical first step is to see which teams travel the most miles.  Using the Haversine function and the latitude/longitude of each team’s arena, I calculated the total straight-line (or, if you’re thinking spherically, curved) distance a team travels between each of their 82 games, disregarding minor quibbles like the All-Star break.

Here’s the interactive visualization for 2012-2013 regular season travel statistics for each NBA team.

Based on total distance traveled, Houston ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack… not great, but not Portland, either.

Total Distance Flown, with driving taken into account

Now let’s consider that the Houston Rockets have agreed to have White bus to certain games.  Here I made assumptions about which game-to-game legs are bus-able:

  1. If there’s only 1 day between games and the distance is less than 300 miles
  2. If there are 2 or more days between games, and the distance is less than 600 miles.

Under those assumptions, I subtracted out those road trip distances (or in this case, “air” trips) from the total distance.  In this new calculation, Houston didn’t fare as well, ranking 24th in total flying distance traveled.

And when you counted how many of those trips could be done by bus, Houston had the 5th fewest such trips on their schedule.

Part of this is geography (note the other Texas-based teams in the graphic), and part of this comes from the scheduling gods that allow odd road trips like Dallas-Indiana-Minnesota-Charlotte (1/16 to 1/21 for Houston) to occur.

Teams with the best travel schedules

If Royce White could pick any team to play for, and his only criteria was travel distance,he should play for a Midwest team.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best flying-only travel schedule in the league, traveling only 25,000 miles compared to Houston’s 40,000.  Being centrally located among the Eastern teams helps tremendously.  It’s also helped the Pistons, Pacers, and Raptors, who lie somewhere in the middle of the cluster of Eastern teams in that part of North America.

Of course, we learned with LeBron James that there exists more than 1 criteria when considering to play in Cleveland, so take this with a grain of salt.

But regarding Royce White’s special circumstance, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to think of these teams as potential trade candidates.  Those teams wouldn’t mind getting a little more talent in the frontcourt, either.

Feel free to quibble with my methodologies, as they can totally be improved upon.

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