11 NBA Teams Who Have Been Screwed by Early Injuries
The 2012-13 NBA season has been one of memorable proportions. From the aging superstars defying the laws of Father Time to the young players coming into their own, there has much to remember.
We've had just as much to forget, however, as NBA teams have been damaged by early injuries.
From the absence of superstars to the loss of the depth, certain franchises have seen their season begin in an unexpected manner. Even those who have exceeded expectations will now have the tall task of incorporating the injured back into their rotation.
So who has been screwed by early injuries?
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For those who believe a superstar is all that the Chicago Bulls are missing, think again.
Richard Hamilton has a torn plantar fascia in his left foot (via The Chicago Tribune). Hamilton joins superstar and backcourt partner Derrick Rose, who remains sidelined as he recovers from a torn ACL (via ESPN Chicago).
Kirk Hinrich is now on his fifth injury of the season, as he battles knee soreness (via ESPN Chicago).
Even still, the Chicago Bulls sit alone at fourth in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, we're talking about a team that has won two consecutive regular season Eastern Conference crowns.
14-10 isn't something coach Tom Thibodeau views as acceptable.
That's what'll happen when your backcourt is in ruins.
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Kyrie Irving had first experienced the injury bug in 2012-13 when he broke his left index finger (via ESPN).
Irving is now wearing a protective mask due to a broken upper jaw (via ESPN). Has any one team ever had this many face masks?
Tyler Zeller had been wearing protective gear due to a broken cheekbone (via The Plain Dealer).
Tristan Thompson had to wear a mask due to a nasal fracture (via The Akron Beacon Journal).
Anderson Varejao is the latest to face an ailment, suffering from a right knee injury (via The Plain Dealer).
All of this has added up to an underwhelming record of 5-22—a record that doesn't resemble just how talented this team is with Irving and Varejao having All-Star caliber seasons.
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Thus far in 2012-13, the Dallas Mavericks have started with a disappointing record of 12-14. When you consider how damaged their roster has been, it's not hard to see why.
Not when their top players are hurt.
Dirk Nowitzki remains sidelined as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery (via CBS Sports).
Shawn Marion and Chris Kaman both left a December 7 game with injuries. Marion suffered a strained right groin, while Kaman sprained his left ankle (via ESPN Dallas).
Kaman had already missed time with a strained right calf (via ESPN Dallas).
Derek Fisher has been reported as injured with a strained right patellar tendon (via ESPN Dallas).
Elton Brand is battling a right groin strain, while Brandan Wright has a sprained right ankle (via Earl K. Sneed).
The Mavericks are one injury away from fully collapsing.
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The Indiana Pacers have not suffered from multiple injuries like the other teams on this slideshow. What they have done, however, is failed to overcome the loss of their leading scorer.
Granger has been sidelined since November due to a left patellar tendinosis (via NBA.com). As a result, Indiana has suffered tremendously.
They rank 28th in the NBA by scoring just 91.6 points per game. That's down from 97.7 in 2011-12.
Even as David West finds his rhythm and Paul George comes into his own, the Pacers were royally screwed by Granger's absence. They've since found their way and improved, but their offense remains stagnant.
Until Granger returns, that will not change.
Los Angeles Lakers
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Truth be told, I find it very hard to defend the Los Angeles Lakers' early season struggles. Even if Steve Nash and Pau Gasol have battled injuries, there is no excuse for being unable to win with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard on the same team.
With that being said, being down your starting point guard and power forward is a tall task to manage.
Not only is Nash an expert facilitator, but he's one of the best of all time at positioning his teammates. In other words, all of the chemistry issues that the Lakers have had could be cured by Nash's presence.
There's nothing he does better than run the proper plays and perfect time to feed the hot hand.
As for Gasol, his presence has been missed. The truth of the matter is, even when he is present, he has been terribly misused.
Even still, a team with limited depth cannot afford to lose their players. Not even their stars.
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The 2012-13 NBA regular season was expected to be the one which saw the Minnesota Timberwolves make their leap to elite. Although they've managed to recover and reach a respectable 13-11, injuries have struck.
Even with Ricky Rubio's recent return from late-March surgery, the team has been down a significant amount of players (via ESPN).
Josh Howard tore his ACL and was recently waived (via ESPN).
If that's not enough of a blow to their perimeter depth, Malcolm Lee has suffered a chronic injury to his right knee (via NBA.com).
As for their interior, some guy named Kevin Love missed 10 games due to a broken hand (via ESPN).
No team has been quite as damaged by injuries as the Minnesota Timberwolves.
New Orleans Hornets
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Approaching the 2012-13 NBA season, one of the most popular choices to make a postseason run was the New Orleans Hornets. With injuries to key players, that dream has been crushed.
New Orleans has the third-worst record in the NBA at 5-20.
First overall draft choice Anthony Davis suffered a stress reaction in his previously injured left ankle (via The Times-Picayune). This comes after Davis sprained his ankle three times in as many days.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune reports that shooting guard Eric Gordon still hasn't started practicing with the Hornets. This stems from Gordon suffering from both a patella tendon disorder and a bone bruise.
To make matters worse, Jason Smith has a torn labrum in his right shoulder (via The Times-Picayune).
If healthy, one can only imagine how many wins this would have. With Davis, Gordon, Ryan Anderson and breakout point guard Greivis Vasquez, there is a significant amount of talent.
Unfortunately, injuries have hindered any progress they'd hoped to have made.
New York Knicks
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The New York Knicks have been phenomenal this season. They've also been without their second leading scorer and their top perimeter defender.
If that's not enough, their second unit has been banged up, as well.
Standout defencemen Iman Shumpert is still recovering from a torn left ACL (via ESPN New York).
Amar'e Stoudemire, meanwhile, hasn't played in a single game due to debridement surgery in his left knee (via USA Today).
Furthermore, Rasheed Wallace is presently wearing a walking boot and is without a timetable to return (via The New York Post).
Even Marcus Camby has suffered from a strained left calf (via The New York Daily News).
As for those who question how the New York Knicks have been "screwed" at 19-6, it goes beyond a win-loss record. The Knicks must now rearrange their entire rotation upon the return of Shumpert, Stoudemire, Camby and even Wallace.
In other words, 19-6 could go down the drain if chemistry is lost.
Even if that never comes to fruition, the risk is bad enough.
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It started with Andrew Bynum having a "routine knee injection" (via The Philadelphia Inquirer).
We now know that there is no timeline for Bynum's return from injury (via The Philadelphia Inquirer).
If that's not bad enough, Jrue Holiday is presently battling a left foot sprain (via Philadelphia 76ers Official Twitter). He's already missed four consecutive games.
This comes in the midst of an All-Star caliber season in which Holiday is averaging 18.4 points and 8.9 assists per game.
Update: Jrue Holiday (left foot sprain) will not play tonight vs. Dallas.— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) December 19, 2012
Without their top two players, one can only expect the Sixers to struggle. They have.
They're 12-14 without Bynum and 0-4 without Holiday.
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According to Anne M. Peterson of The Associated Press, the Toronto Raptors lost both Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani to injury in the same game.
With the Raptors' season slipping away, their absence could seal their fate.
Lowry has partial tear of his right triceps, and is out 10 days. Bargnani has a ligament tear in his right elbow/strained wrist. indefinite.— Eric Koreen (@ekoreen) December 13, 2012
Bargnani has been reported to be out for at least three weeks (via Sportando).
As for Lowry, this is his second injury of the season. He missed six games in early November due to a sprained right ankle (via The Oklahoman).
Both absences have played a significant role in Toronto starting 8-19.
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There were some who believed the Washington Wizards would be a dark horse in the hunt for the 2012-13 NBA postseason. After all, they won eight of their last 10 games in 2011-12.
Thus far, the Wizards are an NBA-worst 3-20. You can thank the injuries for this disturbing level of ineptitude.
If that's not enough, Trevor Booker has a right knee strain and Trevor Ariza is suffering from a left calf strain (via The Washington Examiner).