By: Opinionated Reezy
One of the lessons from the Greg Popovich era of coaching is resting his key players during the season to rest them. Coming from the Bad Boys Pistons era basketball this is a foreign concept; however, I must admit there are some strategic elements to it. We are going to take a look at should players sit out games due to rest during the NBA Season.
How are NBA Seasons constructed?
Per ESPN the 82-game season started in 1967 to allow a team in the 12-team league to play conference rivals eight times and inter-conference foes seven times. As the league expanded the number maintained and adjusted accordingly. Additionally, 82 was chosen primarily to balance revenue and player salaries and secondary was the wear and tear on the athlete’s body. In short, we have an 82-game season today because we have one in the past. Dissecting the question of whether players should sit out games due to rest during the NBA Season is to first answer if an 82-game season is too much? I believe it is.
What is the goal of a Team in the NBA?
The goal the NBA is to provide the best service and entertainment for their stakeholders, which would be the fans, media, and sponsors, not necessarily in that order. The owners get a share of the revenue from media and sponsors, but that is not the only way they make the bulk of their money.
NBA Owners have their own subset of stakeholders, which would include Season Ticket owners, who buy into the direction of the team sight unseen so to speak, the actual players, the city, and sponsors. Therefore, their goal mirrors that of the NBA, but they also want to win a championship for their city as fans want to see winning teams and will more than likely become season ticket holders if there is a pattern of success.
So, should a coach make decisions that would net a more favorable outcome to the end of the season? Yes, they should.
To rest or not to rest
For the right reasons or result, I believe it is feasible that a coach would sit someone out due to rest. Some of these reasons can be considered selfish, but again intended for the right purpose:
1. Preparation for the Off Season:
You are already in position to be in the playoffs and the final games truly don’t have an impact on your position or seating, why over extend your star players? This is a great time to limit their minutes or rest them and allow the seldom used talent to get in their rhythm.
2. Preparing for potential conference rivals:
I know this is a weird one, but having your star players in the game can mask potential weaknesses in your team. By resting them you can expose those weaknesses and between prepare your team for potential matchups once you get to the post season.
3. Protect players from injury:
The NBA is a different game than it was years ago, and a body can suffer from wear and tear easier. We notice the major injuries but not the minor aches and pains that can impact the game. Successful teams go through all 82 games and some degree of a post season. Resting players, especially older players, becomes smart to keep those players at optimal condition longer.
4. During an away game against a team of no consequence:
Yep, selfish, but should the Golden State Warriors risk Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, or Kevin Durant against the Dallas Mavericks this year during an away game? Maybe, but not always. Sit one of them. There will be people saying that the fans pay to see them play. While I get that, the home fans of Golden State matter more than the away fans of Golden State in this example. If resting the players for a few games means you get more out of them when they get to the playoffs, I would make that move in a heartbeat and ask for forgiveness during the championship parade.