Knicks: Predicting how Tom Thibodeau will distribute playing time

Tom Thibodaeu, Knicks Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Thibodaeu, Knicks Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau looks on during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Predicting how Tom Thibodeau’s minute distribution will shake out for the New York Knicks

If you’ve watched the NBA over the last decade, you’ve come to learn a wide variety of terms related to not overexerting players. DNP-Rest, DNP-Old, load management, and minutes restriction are just a few of that hot buzzwords in today’s NBA.

In 2018-2019 (the last full NBA season), the Denver Nuggets’ highest minutes per game average topped out at 32.6, which belonged to star guard Jamal Murray. In that same season, the Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson averaged 34.8 minutes a game, but no one else on the team averaged more than thirty.

This indicates that playing time is being more equally spread out over a group of players as opposed to a select few players shouldering the brunt of playing time.

While conscious minute limits and games played tallies are being considered on a night in and night out basis, it will be interesting to see whether new Knicks head man Tom Thibodeau factors these trends into his rotation. As has been well-publicized over the years, he usually keeps his rotations tight and doesn’t liberally substitute players in and out of the game.

Looking over the minutes distribution of rotations coached by Thibs, he usually likes to run about eight players deep.

It might be hard for a tiger to change his stripes, so without further delay, let’s take a look at which eight guys the new coach seems most likely to lean on in 2020-2021, in order of who figures to get the most minutes. Considered as part of this exercise are the average minutes each player in the rotation will receive.