Explaining the NBA's new 65-game rule and the major awards it applies to

Stars like Joel Embiid and Tyrese Haliburton are in danger of being ineligible for awards like MVP and All-NBA

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Some end-of-season NBA award races have a new wrinkle this season.

Players must reach a minimum-games-played threshold of 65 in order to be eligible for certain major end-of-season awards such as MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

As part of the new CBA, the 65-game rule was imposed in an attempt to curb teams from resting players for load management. But in the rule's debut season, it could prevent stars who missed chunks of games due to injury from taking home hardware.

So, how many games are players allowed to miss? Which awards does the 65-game rule apply to? And which stars are in danger of being ineligible? Here's what to know:

What is the NBA's 65-game rule?

The 65-game rule calls for players to meet one of the following criteria (via ESPN):

  1. The player played in at least 65 regular-season games
  2. The player played in at least 62 regular-season games, suffered a season-ending injury and played in at least 85% of the regular-season games played by his team prior to the player suffering said injury

That means, barring a season-ending injury late in the year, players are allowed to miss a maximum of 17 out of 82 games. A player, however, must log at least 20 minutes of action in a game for it to be counted toward their games played total. Players are allowed up to two instances where they play between 15 and 20 minutes and for the game to still count.

So, for example, if a player exits a game due to injury after logging 12 minutes and doesn't return, that game does not count toward the player's total.

What NBA awards have a 65-game rule?

The 65-game rule applies to MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, the All-NBA teams and the All-Defensive teams.

Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and the All-Rookie teams are not impacted.

Which NBA players are ineligible for awards due to the 65-game rule?

Among the notable names to be disqualified already is Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley, who is coming off an All-Defensive First Team nod but has already missed more than 20 games. The same goes for Golden State Warriors eight-time All-Defensive forward Draymond Green, who has also missed 20-plus games.

With the All-Star break still a couple of weeks away, there's an MVP candidate, along with some All-NBA candidates, approaching the 18-missed-games mark as well.

Philadelphia 76ers reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid will miss his 13th game of the season on Thursday due to a knee injury. Embiid had missed two straight games due to a knee issue and then suffered another knee injury in his return against Golden State on Tuesday. Embiid has been among the frontrunners in the MVP race, but will be denied a repeat bid should he miss five more games.

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton has also missed 13 games and he has one appearance of fewer than 15 minutes played as well. Haliburton recently returned from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss 10 of 11 games, and he will lose out on tens of millions of dollars if he's sidelined for another four contests.

That's because the five-year, $204.5 million extension he signed last offseason includes a bonus worth a projected $41 million, which would be spread out over the course of the deal, if he were to make an All-NBA team this season. But making an All-NBA team won't be possible if Haliburton can't meet the 65-game threshold.

Earlier this week, Haliburton called the 65-game rule "stupid."

“I think it’s a stupid rule, like plenty of the guys in the league, but this is what the owners want, so as players, we gotta do our job and play in 65 games if we’re able to,” Haliburton told The Athletic. “So, that’s what I gotta do, take care of my body to be able to play in those games, and I think you’re seeing other players in the league kind of face the same thing. As long as the owners are happy.”

Meanwhile, Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler is three missed games away from being disqualified as he's been sidelined for 15 contests. And fellow Heat star Bam Adebayo has missed 10 games with one appearance of fewer than 15 minutes.

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis has missed 14 games with one appearance of fewer than 15 minutes, while Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen has sat out of 10 games. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell have missed nine apiece.

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