Load management is a current hot topic in the NBA and while New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson has a good reason, he may receive criticism as well.
The New Orleans Pelicans have had an extremely disappointing start to the 2019 campaign after an offseason that was filled with promise and praise. Part of the reason why the Pelicans have underwhelmed thus far is that the team has been without its generational rookie, Zion Williamson.
Williamson underwent surgery on his right knee right when the season began and the expected time table put him out until mid-to-late December. As we creep up on that date, it is appearing more likely that it will take longer than expected for Zion to return.
Not only do Pelican fans have to wait for Zion to return but they are not going to see him in every single game. Pelicans’ vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin, already came out and said that Zion will not be playing any back-to-backs as he gets into form.
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The plan should be to extend this for the entire season. Zion Williamson should not play a single back-to-back at all in 2019, even if he is 100 percent by March.
Load management has become a hot topic with the Los Angeles Clippers utilizing it with Kawhi Leonard. Those that are against load management are citing the resilience of former stars like Michael Jordan as well as the countless fans that are let down if they buy a ticket to solely see that one player.
While I could see 10-year-old me being devastated if I went to a Pelicans game and Zion didn’t play, the Pelicans cannot manage the team to make 10-year-old Jason happy. They need to manage the team to win games now and keep Zion healthy in the long-run.
That is why load management is so imperative for Zion and there really should not be a single thing wrong with it. Basketball is a grueling sport. They may not be taking as much physical punishment as NFL players but they are exerting themselves up and down that court and are still playing pretty physical.
How many stars do we have to see get injured in the playoffs for us to realize that maybe the human body is not built to play 82+ professional basketball games in 7+ months? Sure, Jordan and others did it, but that is why Jordan is who he is and let’s not forget that he had his own form of load management as well.
I’m actually surprised that more teams are not adopting this strategy. I’m surprised that Anthony Davis and LeBron James are playing as much as they are, or that Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t getting nights off.
Baseball players take plenty of days off and nobody bats an eye at that. Sure, there are 162 games, but baseball is far less grueling than basketball and is less immediate traveling as series are three-four games long.
Common sense says it is genius to load manage Zion once he returns, yet there will be people that are upset with it.
If you are one of those people then don’t be. Look at the long-term picture, because Zion’s long-term health is more important to the team and to your happiness overall than your happiness on one specific day.