Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is one of the faces of the NBA's new rules regarding stars taking off games. The Sixers will face fines if they rest their superstar center on certain games and will face more rest restrictions if James Harden suits up (which is also heavily incentivized by the new rules).
Embiid has long been grouped with players like Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis who have tendencies to miss chunks of games every season. Nick Nurse, the Sixers' new head coach, has built a reputation as someone who gives his key players copious amounts of minutes but also took a load-management approach with Leonard, preserving him throughout the regular season before his stellar postseason run that ended with a championship.
So, now that the league is cracking down on load management, what will Nurse do? In a conversation with Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire, he explained his plan for managing Embiid's workload with the new rules in place.
“I think that we are looking at it maybe a little different than people think we might be,” Nurse told Sixers Wire. “We’re trying to get him to play more games. Our goal is that it’s going up for him, not not the other direction, and some people would say, ‘Oh, that’s playoffs. Is he going to be?’ We’re just trying to get it going the other direction. I think that’s just what our people believe here that he can play and again, knock on wood, cross our fingers, all that stuff. There’s always things that can come up with that stuff, but I don’t know. I believe in the guys playing as much as they can and let’s see what happens.”
While the Sixers are firmly in the company of teams where the regular season matters significantly less than the postseason, Embiid getting as many games as he can with his new coach will be helpful. Nurse has big plans for his superstar center and surely wants to get as familiar as he can with his on-court tendencies.
The Sixers will surely have Embiid (and Harden) rest on occasion but since the NBA will now levy harsh penalties for stars resting in certain situations, their rest days will be more sparse.