Common sense says you should play your best players as much as possible. But the NBA has gotten so hyper-intelligent that it's flipped such a theory in a diverging direction.
Now, NBA All-Stars are playing fewer minutes than ever before. We can probably thank Gregg Popovich and the Spurs for that one.
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According to a Wall Street Journal ($) report, this season's collection of All-Stars are doing more sitting on the bench than any other group in the history of the league. Gone are the days of the best and brightest showing off and playing 40 minutes a night. Instead, this group is averaging an all-time low of just 34 minutes per game.
Except for a small uptick during the 2010 season, average minutes for All-Stars have gone down during each year since 2006, when All-Stars averaged a bulbous 37.8 minutes per game. Nowadays, you can barely find anyone in the entire league playing that total. Jimmy Butler is the only player who's there, leading the NBA with a 37.9 average.
The Spurs started the trend of resting players and have taken it to the extreme. Over the last two years, Kawhi Leonard has been the only player on the team to average more than 30 minutes a night. The year before that, no one in San Antonio averaged 30 minutes.
Everyone is copying the Spurs now. And this isn't just a trend with All-Stars. It's true for relevant players around the NBA. If you're in a rotation, coaches will almost certainly make sure you're rested.