While the NBA has done its best to combat load management in nationally televised games, it remains a problem throughout the league for fans. Teams have continued to opt to rest players, especially on back-to-back nights, with no end in sight.
Just this week, a young fan in Miami went viral for holding a sign saying that he traveled over 4,000 miles to watch Jimmy Butler play. Butler sat out the game as a result of back soreness, marking the first game he's missed this month and the 15th he's missed all season. Understandably, the young fan was heartbroken to find out that after traveling so far, Butler wouldn't play.
Today, we're going to take a look at five NBA players infamous for load management in the regular season.
5: Joel Embiid
Early on in his career, there were serious doubts about whether or not Joel Embiid would be able to remain healthy enough to make a serious impact in the league. After being drafted, he missed his first two seasons in the league as a result of injuries.
Since then, Embiid has missed games as a result of both injuries and load management, something he has been vocal about disagreeing with. This season has been more of the same, Embiid has had injuries, and the team has been cautious with his return and rest. He's played in 34 of the Philadelphia 76ers' 46 games.
4: Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson has been the poster boy for load management since being drafted in 2019. Prior to ever being drafted, there were concerns regarding his ability to stay healthy. While he hadn't experienced a full-blown major injury in college, his frame left many worried.
In his first year in the league, he played in just 24 games as a result of a torn meniscus during the preseason, while his second season saw him earn All-Star honors. Unfortunately, after playing in 61 games during his 2020-21 sophomore season, he was forced to miss the entirety of the 2021-22 season as a result of a foot fracture.
This season, he has played in just 29 games, missing 19 of the team's games as a result of injuries and load management.
3: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis' load management and injury issues have earned him the unfavorable nickname of 'Anthony Day-To-Davis'. While Davis looked like an MVP-caliber player this season before going down with a foot injury, it certainly wasn't the first time he played while banged up.
Over the past three seasons with the LA Lakers, Anthony Davis has played in just 138 of the team's 246 games. He's played in just 25 of the Lakers' 48 games this season, sparking more concern that his recent injury woes aren't ending any time soon.
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2: Kyrie Irving
In recent years, injuries have begun to plague Kyrie Irving far more than they ever did in the past. While he missed games during his six-year run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it wasn't nearly as bad as his recent run with the Brooklyn Nets. In his first year, the 2019-20 season, Irving played in just 20 games as a result of an injury.
The following year, while missing time as a result of being ineligible to play due to eligibility issues, Irving played in just 54 games while managing injuries. He was suspended by the Nets for eight games in the wake of an antisemitism controversy, before then dealing with adductor and calf problems the past two months.
1: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard has long been considered the face of load management. After forcing his way out of San Antonio, Leonard played in just 60 games during the 2018-19 season. While the Raptors restricted his activity, the team managed to win an NBA championship thanks to his dominant play.
Over the past three years, it's been more of the same for The Claw in LA, where he played in 57 games his debut season and 52 games during the 2020-21 season. After re-signing with the Clippers, he suffered a partial ACL tear and missed the entirety of the 2021-22 season.
So far this year, he has continued to miss time as a result of load management, specifically on the second night of back-to-back games.
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