Resting Players: How It Affects the NBA

Cade Counsell, Cub News Writer


Resting star players has become a common tactic for NBA teams. It has become so common that some players are listed as questionable for rest almost every game. Resting has both negative and positive effects on players, fans, and the whole of the NBA.

If I were to take a poll on whether resting players yields positive or negative effects in the NBA, what do you think the results would be? I am almost certain that the results would be heavily skewed toward the negative effects, and these critics may not be wrong. Resting players, especially stars, negatively affects all levels of the NBA. Towards the end of the season, teams that are out of playoff contention tend to take part in this practice. They list their star players as out with a nonexistent or minimal injury before each game. In the past few years, the Thunder, in particular, have been notorious for resting their stars to gain a better draft position. Utilizing the practice of “tanking,” they would rest their best player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so the team would lose more games, thus increasing their odds of a better pick in the next draft. 

Resting not only hurts the player’s potential but also frustrates the fans who want to see their team succeed. Imagine buying a ticket to a game to see your home team play, and the star player is resting. This frustrates many fans of lower-ranking teams, such as the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, the Lakers missed the playoffs with a record of 33-49, sitting at the 11th seed. As the Lakers started to realize their decreased chances of making the playoffs, ex-head coach Frank Vogel decided to rest LeBron James, conserving him for the next season. Fans who bought tickets to the Lakers’ final games missed out on the chance to watch arguably the greatest player of all time at work.

Although many agree that resting is a problem in the NBA, some argue that it yields positive effects. For example, resting veteran players, like LeBron James, on games that are easily winnable not only gives veteran players the chance to recuperate, but also allows them to better perform in their next matchup, possibly against a better team.

Some steps have been taken to reduce the resting problem in the NBA, such as a policy that allows the NBA to fine teams for resting healthy players in nationally-televised games. Shortening the season has also become a possible solution to the resting problem, but owners are unlikely to sign off because of the resulting decreased profit.