Load Management in NBA Clouds Fantasy Outlook for Number of Top Players

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors /

Load management has become a hot new topic of discussion the past couple of years in the NBA as it's become more prevalent than ever.

What Does Load Management Mean in NBA

Load management is the concept of resting NBA players in an effort to limit the physical toll on their bodies that comes along with an 82-game schedule, in addition to practices and travel. It's most often utilized by having a seemingly healthy player take a night off in the second half of a back-to-back set.

The reason it has become such a conversation point is that it's seemingly happening more often than ever and stars, like last year's NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, are typically the players who get this treatment.

Fantasy Basketball Load Management

The other sect of people load management is affecting is fantasy basketball owners. When drafting and maintaining a competitive team in today's landscape, you have to consider how many nights off a player might get in an effort to keep him fresh, along with accounting for a player's schedule, their injury history and the role they play on their team.

Much like fantasy football, volume is one of the most important qualities a player can offer, especially in points leagues. The old saying goes, "the best ability is availability" and some of today's stars are becoming less and less available.

Superstars, like Leonard and LeBron James, who are lynchpins of quality fantasy teams, have been at the forefront of criticism while subscribing to load management. Last season, Leonard only played in 60 regular-season games. Yes, some of that time was missed because of nagging injuries, but others weren't. Load management backers would argue those injuries might not happen as often with the additional rest, but Kawhi's performance in the 2019 NBA Playoffs all but proves that it works.

LeBron caught flack all the way back to his Miami days for taking nights off, simply for rest. In fact, back then load management was a concept not yet supported by the NBA.

Who Created NBA Load Management

It wasn't until recently the league allowed teams to use that as an official designation for a player's absence from a game after legendary Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spoke openly about it. Popovich would frequently provide nights off for Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli down the stretch of seasons as he did his best to try and squeeze another championship or two out of that well-known "Big Three." Many consider Popovich to be the pioneer of the concept in the NBA.

So in 2019, while players like Kawhi, LeBron, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis and Anthony Davis are expected to miss time for load management, other stars like Damian Lillard, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have been far less likely to miss games for that reason in the past.

It's an ever-changing landscape, which makes it tough to predict at this time, but from a fantasy perspective, it's something to consider when tying yourself to any top player. Much like drafting a handcuff in football, identifying the role player that might benefit most from someone like Kawhi or LeBron missing a decent chunk of games during a season could be a tactic to use throughout the fantasy basketball season.

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David Kaestle is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username davekaestle. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.