Last season, a record number of players were listed as “DNP-Rest” on the stat sheet. According to ESPN.com, Steve Nash was one of the first to take a game off while completely healthy, back in 2006. Since then, there has been an average of 44 healthy scratches per year, and in the past three years those numbers have skyrocketed.
Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, there was a 70% increase in the number of games healthy players sat out. Thanks to coaches like Gregg Popovich, resting players has become as mundane as a made three-pointer from Stephen Curry. Speaking of Popovich and Curry, Steve Kerr, Popovich’s prodigy and Curry’s head coach, seems to be leaning towards a very restful 2016-17 season.
Kerr told The Mercury News that “we’re going to pace ourselves somewhat” when asked about resting players, which can have both positive and negative connotations.
Whether the Dubs are playing at home or on the road, tickets are not cheap, since you’ll be watching the best basketball team on the planet. When Curry, Klay Thompson, and the rest of the stars sit out, fans are thoroughly disappointed, and for good reason. When I was at school in Colorado a few years ago, my siblings flew out to watch a Warriors-Nuggets game with me. Sadly, our entire starting lineup sat out, but boy did they look good in those suits sitting behind the bench.
Resting stars can anger fans but ultimately, it’s beneficial to all of us. You might miss out watching the team live but when it comes to the playoffs, when ticket prices soar and you're stuck at home on your couch, you’ll be able to watch a fully rested Warriors team. Heck, if the stars didn't rest during the regular season, injuries could pile up and your team might not even make the playoffs.
One major change for the Warriors this year is that there are a lot more young players on the roster than years’ past. Cameron Jones, Damian Jones, and Patrick McCaw are all rookies, while Kevon Looney is considered a 2nd-year player, even though he only played in five games last season and is a rookie in my eyes. Kerr seems to be a fan of these young guys, as he told Mercury News that “we’re also better off having the new blood and the new life because I think it will give us that boost.”
The role of a bench player is simple: provide energy and either keep the lead or make the game closer. A talented bench is great to have, but if they’re sluggish entering the game, the intensity can fall apart on both sides of the court. Slower rotations on defense and no ball movement on offense isn’t an ideal situation that you want to put your stars into when they come back into the game. Patrick McCaw and Kevon Looney seem to be the young players who will make the most impact, and, judging from preseason play, McCaw is a great fit as backup point guard: versatile and energetic.
“DNP-rest” has become all the rage in the NBA, thanks to numerous back-to-backs and the threat of injury around every corner. Come April, teams want to be healthy and rested, which sucks for fans in the short term but can make them extremely happy in the long term if the team ends up winning the championship. Steve Kerr seems to have recognized that it’s championship or bust this year, and he’s fine with the backlash that will come with sitting star players in the regular season.