5 NBA Stars' Injuries That Could Impact Their Team's Title Hopes

Thomas BonifaceCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2012

5 NBA Stars' Injuries That Could Impact Their Team's Title Hopes

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    It goes without saying that injuries to star players can have a profound impact on their teams' title aspirations.  

    The argument could be made that had Avery Bradley been healthy this year, the Boston Celtics would have beaten the Miami Heat and had a shot at winning the NBA title.  

    And who could forget the infamous LeBron’s elbow incident from his final year in Cleveland?   

    Here are a few players who, if they remain injured for a significant part of the season, could significantly affect their teams' championship hopes.

Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard’s departure from Orlando and subsequent arrival in Los Angeles was the top story of this offseason for the NBA, and his lingering back injury from last season is quite possibly the top injury story going into the season this year.  

    Mike Trudell reports that there is no timetable for Howard’s return and that he will not be ready for both the start of training camp and the preseason opener on Oct. 7.  However, the more pressing issue is that when he does return, who knows if he will be able to dominate the paint like he used to before his injury? 

    If Howard can return to his former self, and successfully gel with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Mike Brown, the Lakers should be celebrating a championship next summer.

Derrick Rose

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    Derrick Rose’s torn ACL and MCL injury was probably one of the most gruesome injuries to watch on television.  

    A few days ago, ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell and Jon Greenberg reported that Rose was jumping again and had been working out and rehabbing on a regular basis, but the timetable for his return is expected to be sometime after the All-Star break in February (via CSNChicago.com).  

    Rose’s injury could be a make-or-break injury for the Bulls’ title hopes this year in that he is the heart and soul of this team. Without him, the Bulls lose in the playoffs (like they did this year against the 76ers).  

    Also consider that even if D-Rose is healthy, the Bulls still must contend with the defending champion Heat and the always-tough Boston Celtics.

Kendrick Perkins

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    Kendrick Perkins’ groin injury doesn’t seem like something that could seriously put him in jeopardy of missing significant time this season, and thus should not affect the Thunder’s chances for winning a title come playoff time.  

    Perkins is essential to the Thunder’s success, especially against the Eastern Conference teams like the Heat and Celtics that like to operate in the paint, as he is the metaphorical “brick wall” that occupies the paint area, allowing the other four guys on the floor to defend the perimeter more effectively.  

    In the West, he is the big body that the Thunder can put on Dwight Howard.  Worst-case scenario is that Perkins' groin injury lingers, but all signs point to him being ready to go for the season opener (via ESPN).

Mike Miller

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    Mike Miller’s back was noticeably bothering him throughout the playoffs this past year, but he fought through the pain and played a key role in beating the Thunder in the Finals.  

    The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that Miller expects to be back for the season opener this year.  While the argument could be made that Miller was essential to the Heat’s success against the Thunder this past year, the addition of Ray Allen in the offseason leads one to assume that Miller should play a similar but much less essential role this season.  

    With or without Miller, the Heat remain one of the favorites to win the NBA title this year.

Blake Griffin

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    Blake Griffin’s torn meniscus kept him out of the Olympics this year, but he expects to be back for training camp (via Sam Amick at SI).  

    Griffin has a history of knee problems, dating back to his first rookie year (the one when he didn’t play all season) when he suffered a stress fracture that didn’t heal properly.  

    Griffin is the face of the Clippers franchise, and his health determines how relevant the team is within the NBA world.  A healthy Griffin means a serious playoff contender with loads of talent at the point guard and power forward positions as well as valuable playoff experience.  A hurt Griffin means a possible missing of the playoffs or early exit from the playoffs for the Clippers.