NBA fans have missed watching Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Rose and Amar'e Stoudemire this season, as basketball addicts have been forced to keep up with the latest injury buzz surrounding those three players.
With the season a quarter of the way finished, the impending return of these three stars is drawing closer.
When Nowitzki, Rose and Stoudemire return to the starting lineup, they will change the landscape of the league.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, Dirk Nowitzki returned to the practice court for the fist time since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-October.
Now that Nowitzki has returned to the practice court, the Dallas Mavericks will finally be able to play the lineup they envisioned during the offseason.
The Mavs were expecting Nowitzki back within six-weeks, but the rehabilitation process took longer than anticipated. Dirk recently said the following in regards to his delayed return: (h/t ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon)
It's as slow as you can get unfortunately. The swelling at the beginning was just so bad, and we don't really know why. Maybe I was trying too early to do something, nobody really knows.
There's no timetable surrounding Nowitzki's return to game action, but it's encouraging to see him participate in a full-contact practice.
The ACL tear that Derrick Rose suffered in the first round of last season's playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers was nothing short of devastating.
Seth Gruen of the Chicago Suns Time reported that Rose participated in the non-contact portion of practice, which only perpetuates the idea that he is ahead of schedule.
The Bulls have to be cautious with Rose's return to the court, as his long-term health should be the organization's main concern.
There is still no timetable surrounding the return of Rose, but his progress hints that he may return before the All-Star break.
Out of the three players in this article, Stoudemire should be the first one to return to game action, barring any future setbacks.
There was optimism that Amar'e might be able to make his debut on December 23rd when the New York Knicks host the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that appears unlikely at this point.
According to Christian Red of NYDailyNews.com, Knicks head coach Mike Woodson doesn't expect the talented power forward to suit up before Christmas. Red also reported that Stoudemire concurs with his head coach, as he is yet to set a target return date.
When Amar'e does return, it will be interesting to see the role he is given.
To Stoudemire's credit, all he wants to do is help the team, as evidenced by the the following quote from Red's article:
It’s a team game, so whatever role best fits my particular attribute, to make us win, then that’s what I have to do. That’s the ultimate goal, to win. That’s what’s going to happen. I’m on the pace to return back to dominance. It’s just a matter of becoming 100%. When I’m healthy, I feel like I’m back to my dominant self.
If Amar'e can stay healthy, then his return will give the Knicks a boost due to his expansive offensive repertoire