When do the NBA's best players actually play?
Notes on rotation patterns, and what they might mean
The NBA’s best players tend to play around the same number of minutes. Most stars get somewhere between 30 and 36 minutes a night. But just because the play the same number of minutes, doesn’t mean they’re actually on the court at the same time.
Sure, they all usually start and end each half (barring blowouts), but the middle portion of the first and second quarters typically yields at least one rest period for these guys, and it’s there where things get different.
I first noticed this with Dirk Nowitzki, who had an unusual rest pattern for a star of his era. But this type of thing has continued into the present, and I think it’s fun to take a look at which players, play when. So in the space below, we’re going to break down each of the archetypal rotation patterns we see in the league today.