As we move to position ourselves best for the playoffs, an interesting question arises -- do we work to rest our starters? After nearly getting bailed out again by KD in yesterday's game, I'd be pointing towards a pretty resounding "no" at this point. We can't afford to rest Durant for any sort of substantial minutes, as the entire dynamic of the Thunder offense changes without him on the court. Currently however, KD and Jeff Green are both in the top 15 for total minutes played. On a minutes-per-game basis, KD is ranked 4th. It's not much of a statistic to focus on in and of itself, as basically most every other star player is going to be playing massive minutes (ex. Carmelo, LeBron, etc), but it's interesting nonetheless.
Furthermore, even the Cavs are starting to give LeBron some time off in games as they head towards their playoff run. Same with the Lakers and Kobe. And teams like the Spurs are fairly notorious for systematically resting their core starters throughout the regular season to minimize the wear and tear, to best position themselves with a healthy team come playoff time. In fact, if you take a look at player usage from a few weeks ago, prior to the Cavs/Lakers opting to rest their star players, LeBron was still logging less minutes (overall and per game) than Durant was. Same goes for 'Melo, although the overall minutes was skewed in part by his being out for a number of games. In defense of the Thunder, they are in a somewhat different situation as they continue to fight for seeding position whereas the Cavs and Lakers are basically just coasting into the playoffs with little incentive to risk injury and/or strain to their starters (much less their star players). So, the question is posed -- what's the balance between pushing to win these final games versus giving Durant (and company) a little bit less day-to-day strain as we head towards the playoffs?