Reason #2: The Kings don’t load manage and are committed to being on the court
Ever since Paul George and Kawhi Leonard joined forces in Los Angeles, the Clippers have become the league’s poster child for load management. This is less due to the players’ wishes to miss games and more because the organization wants to get their stars to the playoffs in top form.
No matter the reason, the reality is that neither George nor Leonard has ever played more than 57 games a season in a Clippers uniform. Both have rough injury histories and the risk of another unhealthy season just increases with every passing year. At 34, James Harden is no different.
So, between injuries and load management, the Clippers’ stars might not play many games, or at least not many games together. If that is the case, they might very well lack a certain connectedness when it comes down to the wire.
Besides that, James Harden is always a wild card. Just because he said he wants to be a Clipper doesn’t mean that he will be happy there. He also said he wanted to be in Brooklyn and Philadelphia and we all know how that turned out for them. If things don’t go the way Harden wants them to go, he probably won’t be the most committed or reliable player on the team.
The Kings have a clear advantage here. Last season, they were one of the healthier teams in the NBA with all of their eight main rotation guys playing at least 73 games. Many have credited this and their success to sheer luck, but by building a team around a young core and durable veterans the organization simply made smart decisions.
Given their youth and the fact that no Kings player except Chris Duarte has a long injury history, the team is set up for another healthy season. Moreover, the Kings don’t really practice load management and let their players fight through injuries if they choose to.
Domantas Sabonis, for example, played the majority of last season with a fractured thumb and De’Aaron Fox just battled through an ankle injury to help the Kings force overtime against the Lakers.
All Kings want to play, and the organization lets them whenever possible. Plus, there is absolutely no flight risk or a lack of commitment.