Load management is the phrase of the year in the NBA. Kawhi skipped back to backs and rested for certain games and then took the Playoffs by storm. It’s ironic that the franchise most known for making this a thing, the Spurs with Tim Duncan, couldn’t do the same with Kawhi and lost his trust in the organization.
Just a short digression – while Greg Popovich is credited with being the first guy to load manage his aging trio by having them sit out games while completely healthy, the Spurs were not the first team do sit healthy players to prolong their career. If you look up John Stockton on Basketball Reference, you’ll see that he played a lot of 82 game seasons, but his last five seasons was limited to 30 minutes a game. Unless it was the Finals, Jerry Sloan told Stockton he wouldn’t play more than 30.
Steve Kerr didn’t just bring his basketball mind to the Warriors bench, he brought his experience with the Bulls and Spurs as a player, and the lessons he learned about the challenge of multiple Finals appearances. Kerr knows the toll it takes on your body and mind, so early on he started to sit his players when it wasn’t popular.
Most notably, during Steph’s unanimous MVP season. There were games when Steph was on fire and could set all sorts of records, but the game was already won and Kerr benched Curry. A lot of people were frustrated, but Kerr had the bigger picture in mind. With the Warriors far from being favorites, this season seems like the perfect opportunity to save Steph’s body and limit his minutes. Have a recovery year, let Klay come back and then attack the Larry O’Brien in ’20/’21 season. (via The Athletic)
“Hell nah,” Curry told The Athletic’s, Marcus Thompson. “We’ve got a great opportunity to build something special with some hungry guys looking to prove themselves. There are so many narratives people can throw at us. But at the end of the day, I’ve never been the type to show up with any other mindset than to do what you do — hoop.”
He may honestly feel this way, but the decision will probably be made by Steve Kerr and the sports science department. If you are a competitive player, you are wired to 48 min a game. Still, The Warriors have championship pedigree when the Splash Brothers are back, and that should be the target around everything else is planned.
There is one other thing to take into consideration – KD is not there anymore, and Steph can go back to being the player that won 2 MVPs. Curry adapted a lot to facilitate KD’s game, and as much as it worked, he must be dying to get back to playing the quintessential Warriors game.