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Ranking the NBA's Most Devastating Season-Ending Injuries This Year

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2013

Ranking the NBA's Most Devastating Season-Ending Injuries This Year

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    The Orlando Magic announced that Arron Afflalo would miss the remainder of the season with a strained hamstring, adding to the long list of guys who have had their seasons noticeably marred because of extended injuries.

    Arron Afflalo will miss the rest of the regular season because of his hamstring injury. It's a strained hamstring.

    — Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) March 23, 2013

    However, the biggest difference between Afflalo's injury and the injuries to guys like Jordan Hill or Andrew Bynum is that Afflalo's injury is actually going to help his team in the long run.

    Afflalo's strained hammy gives Orlando a chance to crank their tank machine into full power as they find themselves just two games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats for the worst record in the NBA.

    Moving forward, Afflalo will be a solid member of this team, but they're going to have to make sure he doesn't hurt himself further, even if it is just a hamstring strain.

    While Afflalo sitting out the rest of the season does seem rather laughable, it reminds us of the ton of other players who've watched from the sidelines after their year came to an early end. 

10. Andrea Bargnani

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    Record With Bargnani: 10-25

    Record Without Bargnani: 16-19

    I know, every Toronto Raptors fan out there is groaning right now. Every time Andrea Bargnani stepped on the floor was an utter disaster, at least as far as his expectations went.

    Bargs was expected to be a floor-spacing, moderate-rebounding big man who could help out with a lot of the scoring load in a season where the Raptors were going all-in for a playoff spot after trading their first-round draft pick for Kyle Lowry.

    The season that followed was pretty bad. His three-point shooting wasn't as atrocious as the previous year, but he made up for that with a field-goal rate that barely cracked 40 percent.

    What became most disappointing about Bargnani's injury is that the Raptors now have no other option but to hold him over into next season if they want to get some sort of decent value out of the big fellow.

    Bargnani could have found his way into the system for a better fit, or he could have at least ended up making a few more three-pointers, demonstrating his value to the rest of the league.

    Now the Raptors are either going to have to trade him over the summer at less than his value, or keep him into next season to prove that he's still worth something.

9. Brandon Roy

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    Record With Roy: 4-1

    Record Without Roy: 20-43

    It's really impossible to tell how good this Minnesota Timberwolves team could have been if this season wasn't a Murphy's Law of basketball from start to finish.

    With Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic all missing a noticeable chunk of time, this team never really had a chance to get on the same page.

    They were a well put together team; they just took a few too many risks with injury-prone players, and it all ended up falling apart in dominoes.

    Roy was easily the most risky, but his season-ending knee injury was not only surprising to nobody, but was one of the first instances in which the Timberwolves had to start digging deeper into their bench for the remainder of the season.

8. Jason Richardson

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    Record With Richardson: 13-20

    Record Without Richardson: 14-22

    There's only so much that a spot-up shooting 32-year-old shooting guard can bring to a team at this point, but for a team that has struggled to score as much as the Philadelphia 76ers, Richardson could have been a fine piece for the remainder of the season.

    With knees popping left and right, Richardson's old bones couldn't be spared, as he tore a bit of his cartilage back in January.

    Richardson wasn't setting any scoring records, and he wasn't even necessarily scoring efficiently, but he was a guy who was scoring 10 points a game for the Sixers, something that could have helped them immensely in terms of staying in the playoff race.

7. Brandon Rush

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    Record With Rush: 1-1

    Record Without Rush: 39-30

    It's hard to put a figure on how much better the Golden State Warriors would be with Brandon Rush in the lineup, but there's plenty to look at in his game and like as far as an addition to the Warriors' rotation would concern.

    Last season, Rush worked well in the flow of the Warriors' offense, he just never carved out a huge role past spot-up shooting. What he did show, however, was that he had some defensive chops beyond playing the passing lanes.

    With Rush in the lineup, Golden State would have a triumvirate of Rush, Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry as the first guys off the bench. Those three guys could easily turn the Warriors into a team another notch above where they are right now.

6. Jared Sullinger

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    Record With Sullinger: 22-23

    Record Without Sullinger: 14-10

    With the Boston Celtics having no room to add much in terms of impact players, having a rookie come in and carve out a hole for himself in the rotation was a pleasant surprise for Doc Rivers.

    Sullinger struggled for the first month or so of the season, fouling dudes left and right and struggling to knock down his jump shot.

    However, once he settled down, got Kevin Garnett yelling at him to work harder on defense and had Rajon Rondo dropping passes down to him, things started to click for Sully. Once January rolled around, Sullinger came around and averaged seven points and seven rebounds for the month, all while shooting nearly 50 percent.

    Successive injuries to Rondo, Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa killed Boston's depth, but somehow spurred them on to a huge, playoff-securing run.

5. Jordan Hill

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    Record With Hill: 12-17

    Record Without Hill: 24-17

    With the Los Angeles Lakers filling in size with the likes of Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison and even Robert Sacre at times, Jordan Hill would have been nice to have around, even as no more than an energy player off the bench.

    There's no telling how many 50/50 balls the Lakers may have lost this season just because they don't have anybody on their roster who is capable of consistently diving for loose balls and fighting a rebound away from an opponent.

    What really became the biggest problem for the Lakers after losing Hill for the year was what happens after Dwight Howard gets into foul trouble. Rack up two quick ones in the first, or a third early in the second, and Sacre is coming into the game for good.

    Missing Hill, combined with the injury to Pau Gasol, have turned the Lakers into a team scrambling for depth. But they've somehow made it all work over the past month.

4. Anderson Varejao

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    Record With Varejao: 5-20

    Record Without Varejao: 17-27

    It's odd to think about what kind of impact a guy could have had were he healthy all year long when you consider that his team was a mere 5-20 with him in the starting lineup, but there were so many strange circumstances surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers at the beginning of the year that it's hard to take that for face value.

    Anderson Varejao was on the way to having the best year of his career, averaging 14 points and a league-leading 14 rebounds and going to his first career All-Star Game.

    A torn leg muscle required surgery, and then a blood clot ended his season.

    Varejao gave this Cavaliers team an edge, a burst of energy and a guy to lean on when the youngsters in the post weren't feeling it.

    Given a clean bill of health, Varejao could have gone in a ton of different directions; he could have been traded, or continued to help this team improve. Either way, Cleveland would have been better off.

3. Lou Williams

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    Record With Williams: 22-17

    Record Without Williams: 17-14

    Lou Williams was having a Sixth Man of the Year-caliber season before having reconstructive surgery on his right knee, and with his crumbling knee, the Atlanta Hawks lost a very important dimension to their offense.

    Williams was not only a legitimate scoring threat off the bench, always ready to cut into the lane or knock down a three-pointer, but he was a guy who could keep Josh Smith honest.

    It's not that he was taking shots away from Smith, but he was there to remind Smith that there were other perimeter players that could create their own shot, and Smith seemed to pass it off more often in respect of Williams' ability.

    Atlanta isn't much worse as far as their record says, but they're just not the same team without that additional offensive weapon Williams provides. 

2. Rajon Rondo

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    Record With Rondo: 18-20

    Record Without Rondo: 18-13

    Rajon Rondo's torn ACL has been one of the most confusing sub-plots of this season. Obviously the Boston Celtics aren't a better team without Rondo, but his injury did seem to be an eye-opener for a team that was struggling to make much noise.

    As soon as Rondo got hurt, Boston went on a seven-game winning streak, despite the fact that Jared Sullinger went down soon after Rondo.

    What Rondo's injury did to the Celtics was set off some moment of realization. The ball started moving more freely, post players took more of a part in the offense and Jeff Green came alive, realizing that he was the guy that needed to step up.

    Would they have gone on as big a run if Rondo didn't get hurt? It's really hard to say. However, it seems quite evident that this team is more dangerous in the playoffs if Rondo is running their offense and playing strong perimeter defense alongside Avery Bradley.

1. Andrew Bynum

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    Record With Bynum: 0-0

    Record Without Bynum: 27-42

    Andrew Bynum's weird season didn't officially end until mid-March, but it never officially had a start either, so it's hard to tell exactly what this season was for the big man.

    What we know about Bynum is that he spent last season as the unquestioned second-best center in the NBA, and then suddenly fell apart over the summer, having knee troubles for the 748th time in his career.

    Adding a post-scoring threat to the Philadelphia 76ers makes them a playoff team, and there's no doubt about that.

    They've made due this season with Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen doing most of the post work, while Thaddeus Young adds in a nice inside-outside game, but they're not half the offensive threat that Bynum is when he steps in the paint.

    Give Bynum a point guard like Jrue Holiday, who is suddenly finding everybody in an open spot, and he's going to make a huge impact. He just needs to put together a healthy season or two.

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