5 ‘Last Dance’ lessons OKC Thunder can use to build title team

OKC Thunder huddle (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder huddle (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Will load management continue into the future?

It’s interesting to note Russell Westbrook never load managed while he played with the OKC Thunder but is being managed in Houston. It’s not like he ever looked fatigued in the postseason. Rather, it’s more likely the Rockets are being careful with the Brodie based on the numerous knee procedures he’s undergone, particularly in recent years.

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Perhaps Jordan would’ve played longer if he was load managed but it goes against everything in his personality. Consider this fact — in his 15 seasons played MJ played in all 82 games nine times.

In the six seasons when he didn’t play every game, in half he missed one, two, and four games of the full compliment. Of the other three he missed 64 (in his second season) due to a broken foot. The other two seasons came in years he returned from retiring to play the final 17 games of the 1994-95 season and 60 games with the Wizards in 2001-02.

Jordan was notorious for playing every game even when he was banged up stating he couldn’t let down a fan who saved all year just to see MJ and the Bulls the one time they came to that city.

It’s not a definitive requirement the current crop of players needs to suit up every game, however, it does speak to their overall physical prowess. And, when a team sees their stars suiting up nightly it helps to build the competitive nature of the squad.

In that regard the cornerstone of the OKC Thunder future is one of those players. He played in all 82 games of his rookie season and only missed one game this season while suffering from a hip pointer but was dressed and ready to play in the match versus the Jazz which was postponed due to Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19.