Banged-Up NBA Stars Whose Days Are Numbered
All NBA careers must come to an end at some point, so it's always a shame when injuries cause that end to come about prematurely. Unfortunately though, it inevitably happens to some unlucky players.
These seven NBA stars—or former stars, in some cases—are all a bit banged up, and their time in the NBA is coming to a close. For some, that means the end of a career. For others, it means a permanent decline in level of play.
Hopefully, I'm wrong about this, and the seven make returns to their previous levels of domination. Injuries are never something you should root for. Conversely, recoveries are.
No matter how you feel about certain players, you have to at least respect the work they've put into their athletic careers.
However, for each of the seven, their current situations force inclusion here.
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Team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.6 blocks, 0.8 steals, 14.84 PER
At what point do freak injuries start adding up and allowing for the dreaded injury-prone label?
Throughout Andrew Bogut's career, he's been hurt over and over, but the injuries always seem to be of the freak variety: breaking a wrist dunking, for example.
Now that the big man is 28 years old, they've all accumulated and ended his chances of returning to star status. He may be shy of 30 in reality, but his body is already well past it when you consider the wear and tear he's undergone during his years in the ranks of professional basketball.
Bogut has been effective during the 2012-13 season but only in short bursts, as he's played in just 19 games thus far. Moreover, he's averaged barely over 24 minutes per game during those contests. If you can't play starter's minutes, how can you possibly be a star?
I have no doubt that Bogut can continue to be a productive player, whether with the Golden State Warriors or one of the other 29 teams in the Association. What the Dubs are doing with him, though, will be the way he's handled for the remainder of his career.
They're treating him like he's wrapped in yellow tape, and proceeding with caution is going to be the norm until Bogut calls it quits.
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Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 27.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 steals, 23.40 PER
Before you flock to the comment section and inform me about just how good Kobe Bryant has been at age 34, let me assure you that the Mamba's inclusion in this article stems purely from a literal interpretation of the title.
Kobe is a star player. Duh.
He's banged up at the moment, most recently because of the controversial Dahntay Jones play leading to Kobe's ankle injury.
Then again, Bryant is always banged up. It's just who he is.
As for the third part of the title, well, that should be fairly obvious as well. He's 34 with well over a decade of playing experience under his belt, so of course his days are numbered.
That's not to say that injuries are going to cause a decline, but rather that Kobe says he isn't going to be playing NBA basketball for too much longer. Until he retires, he'll play at a slightly sub-MVP level, and he'll be a lock for the All-Star team.
Take it from the mouth of the Mamba himself and read this quote, which was Kobe's response to being asked about how much longer he has left in the tank:
Probably two years max. Two years max. Next year might be it. It's one of those things I think I'll wake up and I'll know. And if it's it for me, then that's it and there's no looking back.
He's the one doing the numbering of his days.
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Team: Philadelphia 76ers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
Andrew Bynum was supposed to turn the Philadelphia 76ers into a solid playoff squad in the Eastern Conference.
Well, that hasn't happened.
It's never a good thing when you make more headlines for your outlandish hairstyles than your play on the court. For Bynum, that's been the only way he can find himself in the news, because he has yet to occupy a spot in the Philly rotation even once during the first season of his post-L.A. career.
When Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is writing about insurance picking up your $16.9 million salary, that's when you know that injuries are affecting your career.
The truth of the matter is that Bynum has never been able to keep his seven-foot frame healthy throughout an 82-game season while in a featured role. Since playing in all 82 contests during the 2006-07 season—his second in the league—Bynum topped out at 65 games played in 2009-10.
What should be giving us confidence that this is going to change? If anything, it appears to be trending in a negative direction, given the current state of the joints halfway up the big man's legs.
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Team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 0.5 steals, 15.89 PER
Pau Gasol's foot has kept him out for much of the 2012-13 campaign, but the Spaniard was inexplicably declining while fully healthy. The injuries were just the final straw.
After dominating for his country during the London Olympics, Gasol has struggled massively for the Los Angleles Lakers. Whether it was the system, his advancing age, injuries or his mind causing the decline, there most certainly was one.
It's just not like this versatile big man to shoot 45.3 percent from the field, the percentage of shots he made during his first 36 contests of the season.
Gasol still has a few years left in the Association, but it's going to be a struggle to work his way back to the previous level of production.
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Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.4 steals, 4.08 PER
Danny Granger is young enough to rebound from his injuries, but it's going to be rather difficult for him to re-emerge as a star for the Indiana Pacers.
The small forward was the leading scorer for the team during the 2011-12 campaign, but the 2012-13 one has been a different story. Even when his knee injuries went into remission long enough for him to work his way onto the court, Granger has struggled tremendously and lost his featured spot in the rotation.
Granger's absence from the lineup has allowed Paul George to step up and become an All-Star. The young swingman is now the alpha dog on the Pacers, and he's not going to relinquish that role to Granger any time soon.
Unless he's content with being a scoring threat off the bench, Granger will need to look elsewhere for an opportunity to be a go-to player.
And that's assuming he can regain his pre-injury form.
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Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 0.0 blocks, 0.6 steals, 8.44 PER
Calling the Minnesota Timberwolves version of Brandon Roy a "star" is a bit of a stretch, but out of deference to the pre-retirement version of this shooting guard, let's go ahead and include him.
Roy's degenerative knees ended a promising career with the Portland Trail Blazers far too soon, but the former All-NBA-er attempted a comeback with the Wolves this year.
It didn't go so well, as you can see from the per-game stats listed above.
Once a dynamic scorer, Roy was much more of a facilitator for Minnesota before knee injuries knocked him back out of action in early November. He hasn't played since then, and frankly, I'm not sure that he'll ever suit up again, either for Minnesota or some other team. Even if he does, it's unlikely he'll be more than a contributor in small doses off the bench.
It's truly a shame because Roy was one of the more enjoyable players out there to watch when he was in his prime.
Team: New York Knicks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 0.3 steals, 22.00 PER
Amar'e Stoudemire may only be 30 years old, but his knees are roughly 76.
A left-knee operation knocked STAT out for the first two months of the season, and now a right-knee debridement is going to keep him on the bench until May. The only way he'll play again is if the New York Knicks surprise us all by staying alive in the playoffs until Stoudemire is healthy enough to make an impact.
Even when the big man has been healthy, though, he hasn't been able to make the same impact he used to.
His 22.00 PER shows just how efficient he's been, but Amar'e has only mustered up 23.5 minutes per game during the 29 contests he's played in.
It's hard to imagine the be-goggled power forward ever achieving his previous level of dominance mostly because his game required so much explosiveness and athleticism, especially when rolling to the basket after setting a pick for the ball-handler.