Now that it is behind us, there was nothing easy about the 2020-21 NBA regular season, especially for those participating in every game.
Whether it was due to injuries some may attribute to a shortened offseason or various restrictions and complications related to COVID-19, it was incredibly rare to see a player on the floor every single night. Ultimately, when it was all said and done, there were only 11 players who were able to play in all 72 games.
If that number seems low, you are absolutely right, as it was nearly half of the total from the most recent full season (21) in 2018-19. In fact, since the league moved to an 82-game schedule in 1967-68, this is the lowest number we have seen.
There is nothing surprising about only 11 players completing the full 72-game slate when considering the chaotic schedule that teams faced this year. But for perspective, while fewer than a dozen players appeared in each game for their squad, that number was as high as 58 in 1999-00.
While it is always impressive for a player to be counted on night after night, this year, that accomplishment deserves even more praise than ever before. In this case, it may even factor into the MVP discussions as Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic was the only All-Star who played all games.
Another individual worth saluting includes No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards, who played the full season despite a coaching and ownership change for his Minnesota Timberwolves.
No one should be too surprised to see RJ Barrett, who finished with the second-most total minutes played in his first season under New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, widely known to expect intense minutes from his roster.
Others who met these qualifications for top playoff contenders include Mikal Bridges (Phoenix), Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah), Georges Niang (Utah) and Ivica Zubac (LA Clippers).
Hopefully, next season will be more normal and we can see more players get the full 82-game experience.