In the latest offseason the NBA has decided to institute a new rule that is causing much discussion, especially these days. No player can be eligible for one of the end-of-season individual awards (best quintets included) unless he has played at least 65 games. The league’s idea was to curb the increasingly common practice of the “load management”, resting one’s stars by lowering the desirability of some big matches.
The problem is that, having reached just over halfway through the season, there are superstars who are already in danger of being excluded from these awards. One example is Tyrese Haliburton, certainly among the best point guards this season, who has already missed 13 of the 17 games allowed under the new rules. If he misses at least 5 more, he will not be eligible for inclusion in one of the All-NBA quintets. The case that is causing the most discussion is that of Joel Embiid: the center of the Philadelphia 76ers missed 12 games and is in danger of not even being among the candidates for MVP despite his stellar numbers and his team’s third-place ranking.
Embiid did not take the court this week against Denver because he was experiencing pain in his left knee, but the Sixers did not communicate this until close to the game, contravening NBA regulations. Because of this, the league has them fined them $75,000. The player then also missed the next game against Portland but, probably for fear of approaching the limit of 17 games missed and not being nominated for MVP, he decided to return to the court against the Golden State Warriors. The result, however, was the worst possible: while fighting for a loose ball, Jonathan Kuminga fell on Embiid’s left knee., who was down, forcing him out in pain. Now the Sixers center may be forced to miss more games, with the risk that he will be permanently ruled out of the MVP race.
This has done nothing but generate further controversy. Draymond Green, who was on the court when Joel Embiid was injured, blamed precisely the new limit of 65 games played in his podcast for what happened to his colleague. The limit, according to Green, would have prompted Embiid to force a comeback that then caused the injury to worsen. In short, a decision designed to increase the appeal of games is likely to boomerang for the NBA.