NBA 2010-11 Preview: The NBA All-Injury Prone Team
They spend more time on the injured list than the court, even though their teams are spending a lot on them. Their respective teams' potential comes with the asterisk: "If they can stay healthy..." They're a relief to opposing teams and a headache to their own.
They are the NBA All-Injury Prone Team.
Studiously selected by a committee of one, this team features the best talent to consistently don street clothes due to various and numerous maladies. Five in particular stand out going into this season.
Who are they? Read on and find out.
Center: Andrew Bynum
This was the toughest call, with Yao Ming and Greg Oden barely getting edged out by their younger Laker counterpart. Bynum has made a habit of tantalizing for a month or so during the regular season before getting shelved for some knee-related injury.
It's particularly aggravating for a Lakers team who, with a healthy Bynum, could be invincible. Instead they're forced to incorporate a still-recovering Bynum in the playoffs, only to find out they're ultimately better with a completely healthy, Bynum-less lineup on the floor (having Lamar Odom as a luxury helps this happen).
Training camps have just gotten under way, and Bynum is already making his appearances in injury update press releases. After coach Phil Jackson initially estimated Bynum's return happening "three or four" days into the regular season, Bynum topped that with "I see more towards the end of November."
At least Houston fans knew Yao would be out for a long period of time. For purple-and-gold faithful, that Bynum gem had to have inspired an "Oh no, not again."
Power Forward: Kenyon Martin
If teammate Nene Hilario hadn't turned in an 82-game campaign last season, he might have beat out his teammate for this coveted spot.
K-Mart's consistent absences (he only played more than 70 games once in the last five seasons) depleted the Nuggets' thin front court at the worst times, which is why Denver went out and acquired Al Harrington to help shore up that department.
Good thing, because Martin, who underwent surgery on his patella tendon earlier this summer, has refused to give a timetable on his return when asked about it. No news is sometimes the worst news, and this case is no exception. It also certainly doesn't help Denver convince Carmelo Anthony that the Nuggets can indeed contend.
Without Martin, they won't. Unfortunately for Denver, "without Martin" is a situation they find themselves in all too often.
Small Forward: Peja Stojakovic
Injuries weigh teams down. Injuries to big salary players can be anvils. Enough trips to the injured list, and no team, not even the player's, wants a part of him.
Such is the sad demise of Peja Stojakovic, who was the Hornets' big-name signing back in 2006. Shortly after his anticipated arrival, Peja had back surgery and missed 69 games of the regular season. Of course, this happened only after the Hornets had inked him (via a sign-and-trade with Indiana) for five years and $64 million.
Ouch and ouch.
Since that season, Stojakovic has eclipsed 70 games played just once, barley surpassing the 60-game mark the last two seasons. Perimeter players have feasted on Peja's slow-moving defensive game, while realizing he's regressed to a glorified spot-up shooter.
And you wonder why Chris Paul grew dissatisfied with the talent surrounding him.
Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy
He's got one of the friendliest personalities you'll ever find.
He also features some of the most fragile ankles you'll ever find.
Meet Brandon Roy, the franchise player of the Portland Trail Blazers. Coincidentally, he also represents Portland's luck in the health department, which seemingly has a personal vendetta against Portland every year.
Roy has yet to hit the 80-game mark in any of his four seasons, and missed the majority of a winnable Suns-Blazers series with a leg injury last season. Portland, desperate to hold on to a community-friendly talent, has already committed to Roy for the max through 2015 (with a player option available in the summer of 2013).
If Roy can stay healthy, he's a perimeter beast capable of lighting it up for 25-4-5. When he's injured, Portland fans just want to light themselves on fire.
Point Guard: Gilbert Arenas
Forget the on-court-to-off-court gunner story. Since David Stern doesn't want anybody mentioning that, let's talk about Arenas' more enduring issue—his ability to stay on the floor.
Three knee surgeries limited Agent Zero to 15 games in two years (2007-2009). Before getting suspended for unspeakable reasons last season, Arenas looked to have regained some of his form, turning in 22 PPG and over seven assists-per-game.
This season presents an opportunity for Arenas to prove himself recovered both physically and mentally. He needs to, either for the Wizards or a potential trading partner. Whatever team it is, Arenas needs to thoroughly convince them he's back to being the player that terrorized the league with his scoring.
Not with his...never mind. Sorry, Mr. Stern.