NBA Teams Best Equipped to Brush off Early-Season Injuries
Remember when the rehab processes of Chicago's Derrick Rose and Minnesota's Ricky Rubio were the biggest injury-related stories around basketball?
Well, something's happened since then. It's called the 2012-13 NBA regular season, and it's unleashed its annual wrath on the collective health of the league's players.
Some of these injuries may derail postseason or even championship hopes. Others may barely affect deep, well-constructed rosters. Most will likely fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
For the most part, judging the severity of an injury often requires little more than an eye test and some quick analysis. Because of their importance to their respective rosters and the subsequent formation of the rosters around them, Kevin Love's broken hand will impact his club more than Darrell Arthur's leg fracture.
There's no game planning for injuries. But there are some fortunate clubs who have the kind of necessary depth to weather their early season injury storms.
All stats in this article accurate as of 11-15-2012.
San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich's team has been up to its old tricks during the 2012-13 season, with Pop guiding them to the Western Conference's second-best record (7-2).
Tim Duncan (18.2 points and 10.1 rebounds) has increased his lead on Father Time. Tony Parker's scoring has dipped (14.3), but he's on pace for a career high in assists (8.1) while matching his career low in turnovers (2.0).
But a big portion of the credit for their success has to go to second-year wing Kawhi Leonard. The well-regarded defender has extended his mastery of the hardwood to the offensive end (10.6 points on 49.3 percent shooting).
With Leonard sidelined 10-14 days with quadriceps tendinitis according to Eye on Basketball, the official Twitter page of cbssports.com, the Spurs could be in line for some losses if not for the presence of 12-year veteran Stephen Jackson.
Jackson's enjoyed the reputation as a pesky defender long before Leonard even broke in to the league, and his per-36-minute splits suggests little drop off in offensive production (12.2 points compared to Leonard's 13.2).
Danny Green has the size (6'6", 210-lbs.) for spot duty at the small forward spot, with Manu Ginobili more than capable of filling Green's void as the starting shooting guard.
Currently sitting at 4-3, the Bobcats have quietly crept over the .500 mark for the first time since April 2010.
Kemba Walker's emergence (19.0 points and 5.1 assists) has been the biggest caveat of the club's new found success, but he has not been the only effective player on coach Mike Dunlap's. Reserves Ramon Sessions and Ben Gordon rank second and third on the team in scoring (16.3 and 14.6, respectively).
Dunlap's ability to mesh has talented trio of guards will go a long way toward helping the club compensate for the absence of Gerald Henderson. Henderson's sprained ankle could keep the athletic wing sidelined until at least late November, according to cbssports.com's injury report.
The outside threat of Gordon (42.9 percent from three-point territory) could open up driving lanes for Walker and rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Sessions, meanwhile, has the ability to initiate the offense, which could allow Walker to focus on finding his own scoring opportunities.
Kyle Lowry may not have made the offseason splash in Toronto that Canadian Steve Nash would have, but the former Villanova standout has played his way into the hearts of Raptors fans.
His 18.3 points are second-most on the team, but his ability to control Coach Dwane Casey's offense (6.3 assists to 2.5 turnovers) has allowed the fans to keep hope alive during the club's 2-6 start. But a bone bruise in Lowry's right foot will reportedly keep him sidelined for another one or two weeks, according to usatoday.com.
Luckily for the Raptors, they not only have the point guard depth to withstand Lowry's absence, they could even improve their conference positioning without him.
Jose Calderon has actually posted a better assist-to-turnover ratio (6.9 to 2.3) than Lowry. And his scalding hot three-point shooting (50.0 percent) has helped him post a respectable 11.3 points.
The free agent signing of John Lucas III could not look any better than it does now, as he's more than capable of increasing his workload off of the bench as long as Lowry remains on the shelf.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were prepared to face some injury difficulties this season. They can feign confidence in a healthy roster all they want, but with Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry on board, injuries appeared more than likely to affect this team.
What they couldn't account for, though, was sixth man Brandon Rush landing awkwardly following a hard foul from Zach Randolph in the first quarter of the team's second regular season game. The injury looked serious, and was later confirmed serious. Rush's torn ACL will cost the wing the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
For a Golden State team that entered the season with playoff hopes, Rush's injury was deflating. But thanks to some wise draft choices, the injury wasn't season-ending for those postseason goals.
Rookies Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, along with free agent signee Jarrett Jack, have given coach Mark Jackson more flexibility than he'd anticipated.
Barnes won a hotly contested battle with Rush for the starting small forward spot, but appeared to be playing like his spot was on the line. Barnes has appeared more comfortable of late, and his career-high 19 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday's win over the Hawks have showed it.
Jack, Green and Richard Jefferson have helped Jackson mix-and-match his lineups, despite having only one true shooting guard (Klay Thompson) in his rotation.