There’s been quite a bit of discussion lately about NBA teams electing to “rest” players and debate on both sides as to whether that’s a good idea or not. I was listening to ESPN 540 the other morning out of Milwaukee and Mina Kimes claimed the Golden State Warriors travel more than any other NBA team this season. Hearing that, it feels like the arguments for and against resting NBA players are just getting silly, if the same groups that treat advanced stats as gospel are now measuring miles traveled during an NBA season and citing it to make a case for resting a player. Here are three reasons these arguments are only painting a small portion of the picture. Financial services video
Part of the claims suggest Western Conference teams have longer transits between cities, so they have less time to rest. However, a look at the winningest regular season teams in NBA history indicates that’s a non-issue. A total of 19 NBA teams have won 65 or more regular season games in league history and eight of them are Western Conference teams (expand the sample size to those who have won 64 games in a season and the split is 10/12 favoring the Eastern Conference). That is hardly a compelling case that Western Conference teams are somehow at a significant disadvantage over the course of a season (the three most-recent teams added to that list are all Western Conference teams).
But what about the playoffs? Did those teams suffer from dead legs at the end of a playoff run? Of those 19 teams, all but four made it to the NBA finals (two missed from each conference). One thing that is frequently overlooked in analyzing this information is the type of travel an NBA team uses.