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Do NBA stars perform better after sitting out one game?

Resting players has become a highly contentious topic in the NBA. But does it have an immediate impact?

NBA: Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s set the scene.

You’re a Kings fan. Not the best situation. You buy tickets two weeks in advance to see LeBron when the Cavs visit Golden 1 Center. It’s the first time you’ll see the King in person. Your hero. Your idol.

You eagerly await the day, which is marked with a big X on the refrigerator calendar. Finally it comes. You wake up, throw on your LBJ jersey, and head down for breakfast. The TV on the kitchen counter is set to ESPN, and that’s when you find out. Not only is LeBron James taking the night off, but so is Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

And just like that, the day you’ve been waiting for is ruined.

Resting players has become a highly contentious topic in the NBA. For that heartbroken fan, I set out to uncover whether or not the break game is truly worth it.

Yes, I am fully aware that resting is more about the long term. It’s about having something left in the tank for a game seven a few months down the road. But does it have an immediate impact? Do guys perform better the following outing?

Let me address fantasy owners: I know it’s frustrating when one of your star players sits out a game. I know it’s even more frustrating in weekly settings when you can’t substitute the dude out. But this investigation is worthwhile, because maybe those guys slightly compensate for their rest days. Maybe I can help alleviate your frustrations. Right here. Right now.

Some criteria: I did not differentiate between the times a player sat out for a tweaked ankle or a sore hamstring and when he sat out for “rest.” At the end of the day, those are kind of the same thing. You can’t convince me a sore hamstring would keep someone like LeBron sidelined for a playoff game.

To be fair, I only looked at one game breaks. Extended absences usually correlate to real injuries, which means the player may have been eased back into action and therefore suffered statistically.

LeBron James

Overall averages: 26.0 points, 8.7 assists, and 8.5 rebounds, shooting 54% from the field and 67% from the line

Total one game breaks: 6

Averages in six return games: 26.3 points, 7.0 assists, and 8.5 rebounds, shooting 56% from the field and 60% from the line

Kyrie Irving

Overall averages: 25.3 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds, shooting 47% from the field and 90% from the line

Total one game breaks: 3

Averages in three return games: 33.6 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds, shooting 49% from the field and 95% from the line

Stephen Curry

Overall averages: 25.2 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds, shooting 47% from the field and 91% from the line

Total one game breaks: 2

Averages in two return games: 34.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds, shooting 51% from the field and 100% from the line

Klay Thompson

Overall averages: 22.3 points, 2.0 assists, and 3.7 rebounds, shooting 47% from the field and 85% from the line

Total one game breaks: 3

Averages in three return games: 28.7 points, 2.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds, shooting 56% from the field and 57% from the line

Kawhi Leonard

Overall averages: 25.9 points, 3.6 assists, and 5.9 rebounds, shooting 48% from the field and 88% from the line

Total one game breaks: 3

Averages in three return games: 27.3 points, 3.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 44% from the field and 93% from the line

Blake Griffin

Overall averages: 21.6 points 5.0 assists, and 8.2 rebounds, shooting 49% from the field and 75% from the line

Total one game breaks: 3

Averages in three return games: 20.7 points, 7.0 assists, and 8.3 rebounds, shooting 46% from the field and 60% from the line

Anthony Davis

Overall averages: 27.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks, shooting 51% from the field and 80% from the line

Total one game breaks: 4

[In one of Anthony Davis’ return games, he played just 16 minutes. This was excluded from the results below]

Averages in three return games: 29.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks, shooting 52% from the field and 85% from the line

James Harden and Russell Westbrook

Combined one game breaks: 1 (Harden missed last night’s game against Phoenix with an illness. Might see big numbers Wednesday.)

Disclaimer: I would have finished this article sooner, but took a day off to rest the brain and fingers. I’ll be stronger down the road.