For the record, the following are excerpts from five insightful articles I found to read re “Load Management” as used by NBA Champion team Raptors on its players including MVP superstar Kawhi Leonard. Pay attention to mentions of Alex McKechnie, Raptors’ director of sports science (hired by Raptors in 2011) who now has six, yes SIX, NBA championship rings!
Let me start by sharing this cool bonus video that I found online:
How Toronto Raptors’ Alex McKechnie Built a Career in the NBA
Article #1 (This, by far, is the most insightful one out of the series of four)
June 1, 2019 Sportsnet, “The maestro of load management has been key to Raptors’ playoff success” Here is an excerpt (with emphasis added),
The Raptors were 17-5 when Leonard sat in the regular season but his value — and the value of Toronto’s patience — has been proven in the post-season.
The Raptors are 22 points better per 100 possessions with Leonard on the floor than when he sits, which is why Nurse has leaned on him so heavily when the games have mattered most.
That Nurse has been able to do so reflects the outsized impact of the club’s director of sports science, Alex McKechnie, a white-haired senior citizen with a Scottish accent who has as much influence in the organization as anyone other than Nick Nurse and president Masai Ujiri.
When the Raptors traded for Leonard, who had missed 73 games in San Antonio in 2017-18 due to an unspecified right quadriceps injury, a Raptors insider texted McKechnie with a simple message:
“You’re the most important person in the organization now.”
Managing the load
When Leonard arrived in Toronto, he made his priorities clear — after establishing that he was, indeed, “a fun guy” — a few minutes into his opening press conference on the eve of training camp.
He was asked: What does he want for his career?
“Just be able to be healthy, that’s my No. 1 goal,” he said. “Play a long, healthy career [and] be able to be dominant, wherever I land.”
He’s dominant. He showed it all season long as he posted career highs in points (26.6) and rebounds (7.3) and was second-team All-NBA and second-team all-defence despite playing just 60 games — missing most of the other 22 due to “load management.”
The term is a medical one, recognized by the NBA and deemed an acceptable reason for teams to sit out players who aren’t otherwise acutely injured or ill. It was McKechnie — who’s in his 19th NBA season and seventh with the Raptors — who made the term part of the lexicon and was responsible for managing the load by keeping track of Leonard’s fitness through a combination of biometric measures, outside medical opinions and feel.
Shortly after he joined the Raptors, McKechnie — who was not made available to be interviewed for this story — described his approach, honed after more than 40 years working in the field, as a blend of science and instinct born of thousands of hours of in-field experience.
“When we look at rehabilitation and training and conditioning, there’s a science to it, [but] once you establish the science the trainer becomes an artist, and so it’s really painting that individual’s picture,” McKechnie told Raptors.com in 2012.
“For example, you’re not going to do the same things you may for a post-up player as you would for a guard. Totally different approach to the training protocols. In much the same way that we look at a player shooting on his right side as a guy shooting from his left. There’s a completely different set of default postures that we look at.”
The following excerpt is also very insightful (with emphasis added) but again, I recommend you read the whole report “The maestro …“, Read the rest of this entry »