Rest in the Age of Capitalism

Kawhi Leonard doesn't play in back-to-back games this season. This isn't a contractual agreement. As far as we know, it's not a mandate from the Raptors or Kawhi's camp. But there's an understanding that Kawhi will not participate in two consecutive professional days of performance. The terms of this agreement appear to be indefinite. 

Currently, both the Raptors and Kawhi are citing the guise of precaution for his lingering quad injury that mysteriously caused him to miss all but nine games last season. This injury also ruined THE LONG RUN's chance to compete during the 2017-18 fanasy season. 

Kawhi's rest is about health and safety. However, when Kawhi does play, he appears to be the healthiest being on the planet. He dominates on both ends of the floor with an effortless grace. He's  patient, comfortable, and always in control. He makes superstardom look easy.  Yet, Kawhi scheduled rest against LeBron on 11/4 and Giannis (if he played) on 10/29. Avoiding marquee matchups wasn't intentional but a matter of Kawhi's routine and process. Kawhi is an inflexible corporation that doesn't adapt to market pressures, instead he's stubbornly running back his product out of self-interest. 

The NBA"s current structure is a victory for labor unions. The workers/players are making a large share of profits, the raw financial figures are staggering, players possess power while maintaining creative freedom. Yes, players still interface as cogs in a larger corporation but their personal wealth and status has been elevated to a point where they've become personal corporations that rival the team. 

That's why Kawhi can rest when he damn well pleases. Kawhi Inc.'s market value rivals the Raptors logo. The hand is larger than the claw. Only a handful of players possess Kawhi's capitalist powers. LeBron, Giannis and Anthony Davis have free will. Steph and Durant can manipulate the system, although the Warriors appear to govern collectively through a co-op of accountability between mega stars.  But that's really it. 

These players have the power of choice because of their immense market values. They can do whatever they want. But it becomes a larger fantasy issue when lesser players opt for rest and the organization adheres to their claims. Jimmy Butler has rested this year. We are lucky if we get 65 games of Chris Paul. You never know what Popovich will do. Unnecessary rest leads to uncertainty and volatility in the market. The phenomenon of rest is an enemy of reliability. 

Statistically, it's difficult to gauge the "DNP-Rest" since players and teams are minconstruing rest with minor ailments after David Stern punished the Spurs for resting players for a nationally televised game versus LeBron. Anecdottally, the fear of rest has driven fantasy basketball decisions. We believe it to be an issue and our actions on draft day prove that. 

In the last three seasons, LeBron has provided the most fantasy value when considering his draft position. The stats on Draft Position / Games Played:

2018 - 1st overall  / All 13 games so far
2017 - 10th overall / 82 games 
2016- 15th overall (2nd round!) / 76 games
2015 - 7th overall / 74 games

The reason for LeBron's fall in the fantasy drafts is obvious. During the 2014-15 season, LeBron left the Cavaliers and randomly took two weeks off in the winter to workout with his life partner D-Wade. GORGEOUS GORGUI (Now: RICKY OLE 'OOPS) took LeBron 2nd overall in 2014 and finished in last place in the league. Managers in our league haven't trusted LeBron again until this year when he was selected with the first overall pick. LeBron hasn't won the MVP in any of the last three seasons either. The perception of regular season participation may extend from fantasy to reality even though his per-season numbers have been the greatest of all-time.  

Speaking of the GOAT, it's worth noting that Michael Jordan played all 82 regular season games from 1995-1998. He played an additional 58 playoff games during these three seasons, including one where he had flu-like symptoms.

"I was really tired. I was very weak. Somehow I found the energy to stay strong," Jordan said. 

No wonder Jordan pulled the jumpman logo from Kawhi. You have to show up to earn it.