Every year on Thanksgiving people share what they’re most thankful for in their lives. For NBA teams, it should be any good health they might have. The past year has been extremely busy for team doctors and trainers.
We all remember last season, when a crammed schedule following the Lockout caused a record number of injuries across the league. This season, though back to a routine NBA calendar, the injury bug hasn’t gone away.
The Eastern Conference currently features two ”contenders” who have yet to see their leading scorers play a single game. The Philadelphia 76ers (Andrew Bynum) & Indiana Pacers (Danny Granger) are just hoping their stars will play at all this season.
The Chicago Bulls, too, know all about losing franchise players to knee injuries. Derrick Rose will likely be out of the lineup past the All-Star break. Carlos Boozer better be careful around dufflebags this holiday.
In New York, the great start by the Knicks has masked the fact that All-Star Amare Stoudemire went down in the preseason with a bone bruise, which turned cyst, which may turn to…who knows what else. STAT’s knee is scarier than Halloween. As big as this injury is, the loss of Iman Shumpert during the playoffs to a torn knee is still hurting Mike Woodson’s crew. The team’s best perimeter defender likely won’t be showing off that new flat-top on the court till January.
The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, have been missing John Wall with a stress fracture since Media Day. Point guards usually emerge in their 3rd year (i.e.- CP3, D-Rose) and establish their identity. Wall likely won’t get this chance till January. The good news in Washington is that Nene is back from planta fasciitis (for now)…..the bad news? they have the league’s worst record at 0-10.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost star PG Kyrie Irving to a fractured finger this week. The play of ’Uncle Drew’ had been one of the bright spots of the season so far. One more injury on this team (my $ is on Varejao) and Byron Scott can kiss the playoffs goodbye. Rookie Dion Waiters is good, but not that good.
The Western Conference hasn’t had much better luck…..
The Dallas Mavericks are a far cry from their 2011 championship run, and so is Dirk Nowitzki. The German couldn’t play more than one preseason game without his knee swelling up like a grapefruit. Dirk hasn’t played a game this season and may even need knee surgery, eventually.
The Minnesota Timberwolves saw Kevin Love play his first game last night after a hand injury in the preseason. It’s not all rosey, though, for Rick Adelman…sensation Ricky Rubio is out till probably February and Brandon Roy has joined him. Both backcourt talents are dealing with knee injuries.
The Los Angeles Clipper may just have the deepest team 1-10, and that’s not counting veterans Chauncey Billups (achilles) and Grant Hill (knee). These two former All-Stars have yet to play a game this season. If we see either of these 30-somethings by Christmas it’ll be a real holiday miracle.
Down the hall, the Lakers have only had a game and a half this season with former MVP Steve Nash. Since when does a knee to the leg at halfcourt cause you to break a your fibula? ‘Father Time’ is having a field day with Steve this season. Dwight Howard, meanwhile, is still visibly not 100% recovered from his back surgery. Superman has looked very Clark Kent this season, especially at Sacramento this week (taking only 4 shots). It’s fitting that the Lakers replaced Mike Brown with Mike D’Antoni, a guy who’s recovering from knee surgery himself.
The way the NBA is headed lately, I’m surprised David Stern isn’t walking around on crutches too.