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How We Can Win It All

How and Why Sports Tracking Will Help Us Take the Throne

Numbers imply that Chris Paul might not have broken his hand if he had more time off.

Blake Griffin should’ve rested and let his injury heal properly instead of forcing an early comeback just to be ready for the playoffs.

These things are uncomfortable to hear and jarring to believe, but I refuse to just chalk them up to chance. Too often we mistake luck for brilliance and misfortune for stupidity. But there’s no reason the Los Angeles Clippers cannot refuel this off-season and come back smarter, stronger, and more well-rested than we’ve ever seen them.

TRKR Labs normally shows you this dashboard of your health, sleep, and endurance 24/7. Luckily for me, I got to simulate TRKR using NBA players.

Taking a deeper dive into the numbers, we start to see exactly why certain teams (like the Curry-led Warriors) insist on sticking with their "rest the stars" philosophy. An important precondition for making this work is a strong bench unit (we got that), and it certainly does work when you keep a close eye on star players’ minutes and watch their efficiencies soar. I worked with the team at TRKR Labs to plug some stats in for Chris Paul and Blake Griffin using 2016 and 2015 data.

The results? Blake has a plus/minus of +34 when playing less than 30 minutes a game. Christopher can’t stop being the best point guard of all time, shooting a robust 44% from three-point range with two days rest. That could have been enough to vanquish a Curry in the second round this year.

Steph has "magically" bounced back from his injuries this postseason: his team overcame a 3-1 deficit in the Conference Finals, and he now enjoys a 3-1 series lead against Cleveland in the Finals. With a bench as deep as Golden State’s, resting isn’t an issue. But a second round against us could’ve changed all that. Why take heart in that? Because next year, with enough rest for all of our stars, we should be the league's top offense (just like 2 years ago).

So stop complaining. The universe isn’t as random as you think - enough stat geeks have done the research to prove that by now. We can win if we take a page out of the enemy’s playbook and strictly restrict our strictest egos.

The price of this strategy could be steep: our best players might enjoy fewer nights of stat-stuffing in the box score as well as less MVP consideration...

BUT, it will add up to wins and a higher seed in the playoffs. It’s no coincidence the top seed in the past three playoffs has won the championship. From 2013-2015, the Heat, Spurs, and Warriors (aka dominance personified) all rested like their lives depended on it. Except their rings depended on it. So too, will ours.