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The End of Resting Superstars? The NBA’s New Rules

Let’s set the scene: You’ve had your dinner. Perhaps put the kids to bed. Taken a shower. You’re ready to settle in and watch some basketball for the night, before you count some sheep.

LA Lakers vs. LA Clippers. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are in MVP form and Paul George and Kawhi Leonard want to take the crown as the best team in LA.

Oh….wait. Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard are going to sit this game out for rest purposes. Bummer. That TNT Game of The Week is no longer as exciting as it should’ve been. This has happened far too many times over the last few years, as NBA teams are acknowledging the toll extra mileage can take on their player’s bodies. The NBA is a business, however, and they want their best players to play on National TV games. They’ve instituted new rules to make sure that happens. Let’s go over it, and see how they will affect your fantasy basketball season.

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What Are The Rules?

  1. No more than one “healthy” star player can be rested for the same game.
  2. Teams are to ensure healthy star players play in nationally televised games and in-season tournaments.
  3. Games rested must be balanced between home and road games, with a preference for home games.
  4. No more long-term shutdowns that affect the integrity of the game.
  5. Healthy resting players must be present and visible to fans.
  6. In order to be eligible for Year End Awards, a player must have played 65 regular season games, or played in 62 regular season games, but suffered a season-ending injury.

How Will This Affect Fantasy?

  1. This first rule doesn’t really affect fantasy basketball much at all. Typically, when you draft your teams, you’ll want some level of diversification. The odds of you selecting both Kawhi and PG, or both LeBron and AD, for instance, are relatively small. If you have one or the other, there’s nothing really stopping you from being caught up in a rested player situation. When you’re setting lineups, however, you’ll know that if one player is resting, you can safely start the other player if you have them.
  2. The second rule is helpful, but only if you have a star player who plays on a marquee team that will get a nationally televised game. If you’ve got Jordan Poole or DeAndre Ayton, you better hope your team is not tanking down the stretch, because nothing is stopping the Wizards/Blazers from slapping a “knee bruise” or “hamstring pull” on their most valuable pieces.
  3. Same effect as rule one, in terms of fantasy basketball.
  4. This is my favorite rule, but it’s simply not enforceable. Who’s to say if a player is healthy or not? It’s similar to players faking cramps to stop the clock in college football. Is it possible that the player actually has a cramp? Yes. Do you want to be the jerk that says someone is faking it? No. There is nothing stopping any team from saying that a player picked up an injury in practice or in the previous game.
  5. I guess this is to shame players who have pride in this sort of thing, but often it’s the team’s call. Not the player, who is required to take a rest game. The teams want to protect their investment. That’s why so many players rest. Not necessarily because the players get paid regardless, and don’t want to play.
  6. This matters for the younger players who still need to get those awards to qualify for supermax extensions, but for the older players who have the shoe deals and several max contracts already, this won’t change a thing. LeBron and Kevin Durant are playing for championships, not awards, at this point in their career.

Bottom Line: While these rule changes are in a good spirit of fandom, there is nothing stopping teams from labeling their best players as hurt. Many of these rules are simply not enforceable. These rule changes should have very little impact on your drafting, and only help slightly when it’s time for you to set your lineups.

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