The NBA season is known to be long and grueling for its players and staff. However, in addition to the regular season, the Summer League, offseason training, the Olympics, and FIBA World Cup games must be accounted for.
This is why Gregg Popovich, the innovator of the strategy itself, insists on resting players. Even against marquee teams.
The most eye-opening encounter with players being rested was during the 2013 NBA season, where the San Antonio Spurs were playing a home game against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Coach Pop didn’t care for it, resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green.
The result was a $250,000 fine against Popovich from the NBA, and plenty of discouraged fans.
While the move isn’t exactly popular with fans who pack the arenas of uninspiring teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves or Philadelphia 76ers to see LeBron James or NBA MVP Stephen Curry play, others may beg to differ. From the view of winning teams on the cusp of title contention, it’s only right to rest those who worked their tails off in order for them to do the same come playoff time.
Injuries are also prevented in this instance. For example, Tom Thibodeau, the former coach of the Chicago Bulls, was all for playing his starters constantly, 40 minutes a game. That could explain why Derrick Rose, the star point guard, is constantly injured with recurring knee issues, along with Joakim Noah and his Plantar Fasciitis issues.
Fatigue can affect a player’s ability to perform properly as well, as shooting percentages, rebound rates, and other important statistics fall, along with turnover rates rising.
However, people do pay for tickets to see their stars play against other stars.
Usually, the better the team, the better the revenue. Most come to games to see highlights, and who makes better highlights than the best players in the league?
Coaches do understand that it can be frustrating for fans who hope to see the NBA’s finest play their best basketball for them. Just look at Steve Kerr, who sent an email out to disappointed fans attending a Denver Nuggets game last season against the Golden State Warriors to apologize in response to resting stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.
“It’s real important, because our fans deserve to see the best product out there. If somebody spends a lot of money, they deserve to see the best players, the guy that they came to see. On the other hand, as coaches we have to do what’s best to prepare our teams for a really long year.”
So is it a good idea to rest players? Definitely.
When completely thought through, resting players may be even better for fans. Think about it. The playoffs are the most important time of the NBA season, and missing a James Harden or Kevin Durant is even worse than either of them missing a Tuesday afternoon matchup against the 76ers. Those big name players are needed during the big dance, since it could hurt revenue, fan interest, and the overall excitement aspect.
If absolutely, necessary, the NBA could decrease the length of the season. This season the league has decreased the average of back-to-backs and four games in five nights to aid the situation of rest. While shortening the length of the season may seem like a poor solution, it makes the stakes of winning even greater for players, all while potentially ending plenty of injuries.
Who wants to miss Derrick Rose play? I’ve attended four Chicago Bulls games, and Rose was absent for all of them. This might be expected with any injury-prone player that has a tremendous game or phenomenal highlights.
Also, teams like Portland won’t get screwed out of their season just because a valuable player or intriguing prospect loses his career. (Cough Cough Brandon Roy and Greg Oden).
The NBA showcases phenomenal talent, but losing these players to injuries is an unfortunate reality that fans must cope with. Resting players isn’t a popular idea, but missing a player for one game is definitely better than missing a player for a season.