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Analyst says new NBA rule puts more emphasis on regular season

NBA stars have grown accustomed to getting nights off to manage fatigue. The NBA is advising teams to stop the practice.
Analyst says new NBA rule puts more emphasis on regular season
Posted at 9:49 AM, Oct 31, 2023

The NBA season is about to get underway, but in the past, some teams wouldn't take all 82 games seriously. 

It has become more commonplace in recent seasons for teams to give their starters a night off in hopes of managing players' fatigue levels. Often, teams might rest players during long road trips, especially against non-conference foes. 

For instance, perennial power Golden State rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green on the same night for a January 2023 game against Cleveland. It was Golden State's only visit to Ohio last season, meaning fans hoping to get a glimpse of the likes of Curry and Thompson weren't able to see the stars last year.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver last month announced new rules intended to keep teams from resting multiple players on the same night. 

The rules stipulate that only one "star" player can take a rest game on the same night. The NBA defined a "star" as a player who has been an All-Star or an All-NBA selection in any of the past three seasons.

The NBA has also advised teams not to rest players during nationally televised games nor during its in-season tournament. 

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The league said it has carved out an exception for players managing long-term injuries as well as older players such as LeBron James. Teams found in violation of the rest rules will face a minimum of a $100,000 fine. 

Bob Myers, a former Golden State Warriors general manager and now analyst for ESPN, told reporters on Monday that the new rules re-emphasizes the regular season. 

"I love what teams like the Clippers have said, which is, 'We are not taking the regular season for granted anymore,'" Myers said. "That's a big statement. A big statement by a team shifting the narrative to what you heard in the last year was, 'Well, we just want to be healthy going into the playoffs. We just want to be healthy going into the playoffs.' That diminishes the regular season a little bit."

Former NBA star Joe Dumars, who now serves as a league executive, told The Athletic last week that recent data has show no correlation between load management and an increased risk of injury. Dumars said, however, that players who compete on back-to-back days may have diminished performance on the second night. 

"Obviously, everybody’s not going to play 82 games, but everyone should want to play 82 games. And that’s the culture that we are trying to reestablish right now,” Dumars told The Athletic.

Myers said ultimately, the decision was made to benefit fans. 

"I just think it's one of those things where the league is saying, there's no definitive evidence that it's helpful, and I think they are making that argument," he said. "Obviously, they have their own people looking at it so I think it's a valid one. In my opinion, it's somewhat of a gray area. The point is that the league, the players, even, the coaches, the owners, understand that it's an issue from a fan standpoint. And the fans are the ones that drive everything.

"And so, I think the league and [NBA Commissioner] Adam [Silver] rightly recognize this is something that has to be discussed and it is something that has to be dealt with."

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