5 NBA Teams Pinning All Hopes on Training Staff
While injuries are inescapable, it is always unfortunate when training staffs become more important than coaching staffs.
In a perfect world, championships and playoff spots would not be contingent upon the most healthy teams, but rather the most talented. Unfortunately that isn't realistic, as injuries drastically affect every game.
The NBA season is a quarter of the way done, which means that reasonable conclusions can be drawn about the association. While those assumptions might appear intelligent now, the league is always changing.
The return of injured players will change the league's landscape, which increases the importance of training staffs across the NBA. Many teams will be directly affected by this season's results, and their future may be defined by whether or not their stars can return to the level they once were before they were injured.
The Chicago Bulls were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2012 playoffs, but their postseason run was sabotaged by Derrick Roses' knee injury. Without Rose, the Bulls were knocked out in the first round, as the Philadelphia 76ers triumphed in six games.
The Bulls have played hard without Rose, but are not a legitimate threat until their MVP returns to the starting lineup. Chicago is currently 12-9, which puts them fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Rose is yet to return to the court, as the ACL tear that he suffered in the postseason will likely keep him out until after the All-Star break.
Under Tom Thibodeau's watch, the Bulls will likely qualify for the playoffs. Whether or not Rose is able to return or not will dictate just how successful the Bulls are once they get there.
That being said, the Bulls have to make sure that they don't rush Rose back, as they cannot survive him sustaining another substantial injury.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are under extreme pressure, as the expectations from their fanbase are through the roof.
The Lakers are not at full strength, as both Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are out of the lineup due to injuries.
Nash suffered a fractured left fibula in the second game of season, which has aided in LA's lack of team cohesion. Gasol is suffering with knee tendinitis, although his role with the team has been up in the air since the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni as their head coach.
Even when Nash and Gasol return to the lineup, there will continue to be questions regarding Dwight Howard's back.
While Howard has played well as a member of the Lakers, he hasn't been at the top of his game at the defensive end of the court.
The Lakers are older than most teams, which means that they are more susceptible to crippling injuries. If their training staff can find a way to get L.A.'s personnel healthy, then they will become one of the league's most dangerous teams.
The Dallas Mavericks have been without Dirk Nowitzki through the season's first quarter, due to a right knee injury.
The Mavericks are 11-11 without Dirk, which is impressive considering the infusion of new players.
Even when Nowitzki returns, the Mavs' training staff will still be faced with a tall task. Dallas has six rotation players over the age of 30, which means that Nowitzki's injury may not be the last the Mavericks have to deal with this season.
Dirk's return will not do the Mavs any good if he is not 100 percent, which puts substantial pressure on the training staff.
The Mavericks' trainers must be sure that Dirk is ready to return to the court before clearing him to play, even if that means keeping him on the bench a little longer just to be safe.
During the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers traded franchise cornerstone Andre Iguodala to acquire Andrew Bynum, and the trade was viewed as a success at the time.
Bynum would probably be the best center in the Eastern Conference, but he has yet to take the floor due to a knee ailment.
The 76ers have performed admirably in his absence, as Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young have carried the team to a 12-10 record.
Philly will not be a contender in the Eastern Conference until Bynum returns, and there are no assurances that will be this season.
Since Bynum is in the last year of his contract, there is a chance that he could leave the 76ers organization without ever playing a game.
That means that there is a lot of pressure on the 76ers' training staff, as they are responsible for getting Bynum ready to return.
The Minnesota Timberwolves suffered a blow in the preseason when Kevin Love broke his hand, but that injury did not hurt them as much as originally anticipated.
Love returned to the lineup early, which has aided to the team's solid start. While Love's hand injury does not make him more susceptible for another ailment, he is not their only player that has missed time.
The Wolves are also waiting on the return of Ricky Rubio, as the talented point guard is not yet ready to return from the major knee injury that he suffered during the 2011-12 season.
Once the Timberwolves get healthy, they will have a chance to distinguish themselves as one of the most improved teams in the Western Conference.
The Timberwolves are seventh in the Western Conference and have adopted the next man-up rule well. Their training staff deserves credit for their perseverance, but they still have a lot of work to do.
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