As terms like “load management” become more popular and teams take measures to account for rest, playing a full season has become rarer.
Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard has arguably become the poster boy for a healthy scratch, accounting for less playing time so that when he is active he can be the best version of himself on the court. This is a fairly new concept and trend compared to decades prior.
From 1967 until 2004, a total of 12.8 percent of the league played all 82 games. During that 37-year stretch, that figured dropped below nine percent just once.
This season, meanwhile, a total of just 21 players appeared in the full slate of games for their team. For the seventh season in a row, that figure has dropped below six percent of the league. Since 2010-11, only 5.1 percent of the NBA has played the entire season.
The only All-Stars who played all 82 possible games were Eastern Conference guards Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal. That figure remains consistent with last season when the only such players were Beal as well as LeBron James and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The last time more than four All-Stars played a full season was in 2002-03. This included Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Yao Ming and Steve Nash in the Western Conference and Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan and Jamal Mashburn in the East.
As many as 10 players made the All-Star team and played all 82 games back in 1995. In fact, nine of the Top 10 overall minute leaders received All-Star nods that season. Or in 1981, eight of the nine players who led the league in minutes also got All-Star nods.
Compare that with this year, however, and the results are not similar. The minute leaders from the regular season show PJ Tucker, Aaron Gordon, Jerami Grant, Justin Holiday, Collin Sexton and Joe Ingles in the Top 25 despite filling out role player spots for their respective teams.