Most Banged-Up NBA Teams This Season
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks join a host of banged-up NBA teams this season. Like those two teams, some squads are handling their injuries better (Knicks) than others (Lakers).
Some squads have found their season over before it began, while others are awaiting player returns so their season can truly begin.
Some injured teams haven’t missed a beat and will be even more fearsome when fully staffed.
Other teams are just struggling through their injuries, maybe to eventually find themselves right where they were supposed to be—nursing a playoff berth.
Sportsonearth.com's Shaun Powell hit it on the head:
You could create an All-Star or championship team with the half-dozen or so major players sitting out with injuries. ... Dirk Nowitzki, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Rose, Andrew Bynum, Steve Nash, Danny Granger and Amar’e Stoudemire [and Kyrie Irving].
It’s typical NBA fare, really. Injuries are a part of the game, a part of every season and a part of basketball history.
Injuries shape teams’ destinies and affect the outcome of the season overall, and 2012-13 is no exception.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Is it over for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks? They are 13-20, a .394 winning percentage, their worst percentage since 1998-99 (not coincidentally Dirk's rookie season), and may not make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years.
Nowitzki has played his fewest average minutes since that rookie season. He's managed six games off the bench and is still looking like a pale shadow of himself after his offseason knee surgery.
The rest of the Mavs have not picked up the slack. But Dallas is 1-5 with Dirk anyway, perhaps signaling the end of an era out West.
9. Toronto Raptors
You may not have noticed, but the 12-20 Toronto Raptors have been banged up all season.
Both their starting big men, power forward Andrea Bargnani and center Jonas Valanciunas, will be out until mid-January. Bargnani has already missed a third of the season with a ligament tear in his right elbow.
The Raptors' frustration with Bargnani has pushed Toronto to the trade cliff. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, "One source close to the situation said Friday that Bargnani remains 'a lock to be moved.' That naturally depends on finding a taker for the underachieving Italian forward."
It looks like the Raptors might package Bargnani with another injury-riddled player to make it happen; as Stein notes, "(Kyle) Lowry's contract shouldn't be too hard to attach to a trade."
Lowry has missed a bunch of games thanks to a triceps tear.
Throw in injuries to $19 million man Landry Fields, who's made it into eight games total, and Toronto is thinking draft pick.
8. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are the antithesis of the Toronto Raptors, limping their way to second place in the Pacific—and first place for a while.
Andrew Bogut's bum ankle has kept the center out of most the Warriors' games. He's been replaced by Festus Ezeli (who?) in the starting lineup—all 2.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG of him.
Brandon Rush had a respectable season off the bench last year. Not this season. He's probably done with a torn ACL and MCL unless the Warriors go deep in the playoffs.
Stephen Curry had some issues early on with a twisted right ankle but played through it, and along with David Lee, he has carried this team.
7. New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans Hornets are one example of how sometimes the poor get poorer in the NBA, destined to wallow in basement misery for several seasons.
But the 2012-13 Hornets don't entirely deserve to be 7-25. The injury bug has bitten this team badly, afflicting their two best players for much of the year so far.
No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis was looking like a wunderkind, on the way to Rookie of the Year, before being supplanted by the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard in the rankings.
Davis is averaging over 14 points, nearly nine rebounds and two blocks a game. He's got four double-doubles and a triple-double. All this in just 19 games. He missed 13 thanks to a stress reaction in his left ankle.
And we haven't even gotten to Eric Gordon, who is still recovering from knee surgery a year ago. He's played in only two games but is looking like his old self. Problem is, though, he's not 100 percent by any means and will have his minutes limited for a while (and he's not playing the back end of back-to-back games).
The Hornets are finally clear on the official injury report, for now.
6. Washington Wizards
It gets worse than the New Orleans Hornets (7-25). Even the Charlotte Bobcats have won more games this season than last (8-23).
The Washington Wizards are an abominable 4-26 and completely lost without John Wall. With Wall, at least they won 20 out of 66 games in 2011-12.
Sometime this month, Wall will return from a banged-up knee, though there's not much incentive for him to hurry it up.
The Wizards' return to "greatness" is on hold as the team deals with a fistful of aches and pains.
Nene Hilario has been carrying around a wounded foot and has had several bouts with "24-hour flu." Starting small forward Trevor Ariza just got out of a walking boot. Backups Trevor Booker and A.J. Price just can't motivate themselves past minor injuries.
No one really wants to play in Washington, it seems.
5. Indiana Pacers
Remember Danny Granger? You may not have noticed the Indiana Pacers' best player hasn't played a single game all season.
That's because the Pacers sit pretty atop the Central, having just moved past the Chicago Bulls.
Granger will be back in a month, though, and this team is going to get scarily better once his knee is back up to par.
Starting point guard George Hill was enjoying the best season of his career by far but has been dealing with a nagging lower body—hip, groin and thigh—that has started to slow him down.
The Pacers are deep, though, and D.J. Augustin will keep the ball moving in Hill's stead.
4. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls don't need to rush Derrick Rose back from his torn ACL too quickly. They are in the mix for a top-half Eastern seed without the 2011 MVP.
Rose's return date has been moved back several times. All offseason it was January, and then it moved to mid- and late January. Now, it's mid-February. No way he starts before the All-Star game.
The Central may turn out to be the best race in the East, with both the Bulls and the Indiana Pacers already fighting it out and both teams' best players set to return for the second half.
Rip Hamilton has been banged up for the past six years, but he's still the starter at the 2 after missing most of this past December with a foot injury.
Joakim Noah just joined a chorus of NBA players who have contracted the flu.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
They're still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, and there is some serious competition in the Western Conference too. This $100 million mash-up of ill-fitting basketball talent, with a coach to match, might not make the postseason.
Injuries do have a lot to do with their 15-16 record, though, especially Steve Nash's fibula fracture that kept the star point guard out of 24 games.
He's not all fixed up yet either, dealing with a lingering pesky nerve in his injured leg. And the Lakers are just 3-4 with Nash in the lineup.
Another starter, Pau Gasol, missed eight games thanks to knee tendinitis and a funky foot.
And though Dwight Howard has played in all 31 games, it's the same old story with his bum back. He's having his worst statistical season in six years.
Hard to compete out West when three-fifths of your starters are suffering.
2. New York Knicks
Who's hurting on the New York Knicks? Everybody.
"Knicks injury update: Everyone is banged up," says cbssports.com. "Basically, everyone on the Knicks is injured."
Amar'e Stoudemire has finally played his first, and only, game of the season after that suspicious eight-week cyst.
New York is still waiting on the talented and dynamic Iman Shumpert to return from a torn ACL. What a boost that is going to give the Knicks defense, an old Achilles' heel that has returned of late.
Neither player needs to fast-track a proper rehab, though. The Knicks have vied for the top seed all season.
Still, their age is showing: Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas look like they are not going to be able to fill a full-season docket.
The recent Raymond Felton finger injury has particularly stung New York. It's 1-2 already without him and looks worse than that.
Carmelo Anthony has missed a handful of games to various ailments like sore knees and a hand laceration.
And don't forget Baron Davis. (No, it's OK, you can forget him.)
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
Nobody has it worse than the cursed 14-14 Minnesota Timberwolves, who would be staking a claim to their first postseason appearance in nine years by now if it weren't for injuries to their two best players and more.
Ricky Rubio is the third NBA star in the holy trinity of 2011-12 MCL/ACL tears. The superstar point guard from Spain was looking great last season with 10.6 points and 8.2 assists a game before going down.
He returned, but if you blinked, you missed it. After five weak games off the bench, he's back out with back spasms. Could this go on all season?
Meanwhile, Kevin Love has been out several times this year, starting the season with a broken hand.
Love is a problem for the T-Wolves. He's also had a thumb injury, slept badly on his elbow and has had more than one bout with illness, leading the Minnesota front office to be suspicious of his ailments.
Better-than-average backups Jose Barea (23 of 28 games played) and Brandon Roy (five games played) and sometimes starter Derrick Williams have all been slowed down by health issues too.
Where the Wolves could be with everybody healthy, the world may never know.