The biggest takeaway from the NBA’s schedule release last week was its initiative to give players more rest.
Those tasked with constructing the NBA schedule did that by moving the beginning of the season up to mid-October, eliminating the daunting four games in five nights setup, and reducing the number of back-to-back games each team must play.
The added rest days will also further level the playing field for all 30 NBA teams. How so? By trying to make sure as many games as possible come with both teams having the same amount of rest using what the league calls a “Free/Tired/Even” metric. If the two teams playing in a game have the same amount of rest, they are even. If one team played the night before and the other didn’t, the team that didn’t play is “free” and gains a point, and the team that did is “tired” and loses one.
As recent as the 2014-15 season, the disparity between the most and least rested teams over the course of a season was plus-nine and minus-nine, meaning one team could theoretically have 18 extra days of rest by season’s end. This year, Milwaukee is the most rested team at plus-four, while Atlanta and Chicago are the least at minus-five.
If this was any other season, the lack of rest would probably irritate Bulls fans. If Tom Thibodeau was still the coach, Bulls fans may need to petition the league office for the sake of player health.
But, the Bulls are rebuilding this season, and if tired legs help them lose an extra few games that would ironically be of benefit. Of course, similarly un-rested Atlanta is one of the other bad teams the Bulls will be ‘competing’ with.