NBA Injuries: Kendrick Perkins and the 10 Biggest Injuries So Far This Season

Bob Evans@@TheRealBobEvansCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2011

NBA Injuries: Kendrick Perkins and the 10 Biggest Injuries So Far This Season

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    An injury in the NBA can provide a different outcome for any team.

    When Kendrick Perkins went down, the Boston Celtics thought they were going to have a tough time with the beginning of the 2010-2011 season.

    In order to combat this injury, the Celtics went out and signed Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq to man the front line until Kendrick can return.

    Many people, including myself, blasted these moves.

    I mean, after seeing Shaq look like a shell of himself in Cleveland last season and forgetting that Jermaine O'Neal still played in the NBA, how couldn't I?

    The Celtics were attempting to replace a young, effective Perkins with two guys who haven't been at the top of their game since the mid-2000s.

    Oops, I was wrong.

    The Celtics haven't missed a beat, racing out to a 32-9 record.

    Not all teams can claim the same success after losing one of their key starters.

    Just look at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The last thing this team needed was to get bitten by the injury bug after losing superstar LeBron James in free agency.

    It was going to be an uphill battle, but many people thought they could still be an eight seed in the playoffs.

    Well, when you lose three starters in Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and Anthony may have a problem.

    Add in the losses of Daniel Gibson, Leon Powe, Joey Graham and youngster Christian Eyenga, and that is a recipe for disaster in Cleveland.

    Their 8-33 record shows just what happens when the injuries keep piling up.

    The NBA has been ravaged by injuries again this season, so let's take a look at the 10 biggest injuries this season.

10. Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

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    A couple of years ago, a Yao Ming injury would have landed at the top of this list.

    But after missing all of last season due to injury, this isn't a real surprise to Houston fans.

    The Rockets are sitting at 20-23 this season, and a healthy Yao could have catapulted them to a much better record than this.

    Yao played five games this season for the Rockets, averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

    The Rockets safeguarded themselves against a Yao injury by signing veteran center Brad Miller in the offseason, but an injury to Miller has left their frontcourt a little lacking in size.

    The Rockets would be wise to go out and get a center before the trading deadline, because it is pretty obvious what position they are missing production from the most.

9. Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Any time you lose an All-Star caliber player, it hurts your team.

    Chris Kaman showed his ability to be very good at the game of basketball when he averaged 18.5 points a game last season for the Clippers.

    But this season, he only lasted 10 games before an ankle injury put him on the shelf until early February.

    The Clippers were not planning on competing for the playoffs this season anyways, but with the emergence of Blake Griffin and the inspiring play by the rest of the team, Kaman would have been a welcome contributor this season.

    The injury to Kaman has not been all bad for the Clippers, though.

    Since he went down, third-year man DeAndre Jordan has been quietly emerging as one of the up-and-coming centers in the league.

    Yes, he is a terrible free-throw shooter, but over the last nine games, he has had three double-digit scoring games and five double-digit rebounding efforts.

    This includes a monster 14-point and 20-rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets.

    If Jordan continues to improve, Kaman could find himself being traded when he comes back from injury.

8. Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    It's hard to put Mo Williams up really high on this list.

    On one hand, his injury has hampered his production for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    His 13.6 points per game is his lowest total since becoming a full-time starter in the NBA.

    However, his assists are up to 7.1 per game, which is a career high.

    He has been bothered by hip and groin injuries all season, which are both contributors to the flatter shot he has had on display all season for the Cavaliers.

    But he has played in 31 of the 39 games Cleveland has played this season.

    A healthy Mo Williams could easily add three or more wins to the Cavaliers total, which is why he is on this list.

    His starting job has mostly been in the hands of Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson (before injury) all season, and an experienced, healthy Williams could have been the leader the young Cavaliers needed to keep this team competitive all season.

7. LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Miami Heat

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    It seems that every time a member of the Miami Heat "Big Three" goes down, the Heat lose a couple of games.

    Now, the Heat are 30-13, which means they can afford to lose a few games and still be a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference.

    But their lack of composure when one star goes down cannot be a good sign of things to come.

    In the two recent games that James missed, the Heat lost by a combined 31 points in those two games. One of those came in a 28-point blowout by the Denver Nuggets.

    Then came the injury to Bosh and the return of LeBron James.

    James returned and scored over 30 points against the Hawks, but the Heat followed suit and lost when one of their stars was out.

    I'm not sure if it is a lack of production from the other players, or relying too heavily on each other, but I just can't comprehend how the Heat can't win with two superstars.

    I mean, LeBron won in Cleveland without help.

    Bosh won 40 games a year in Toronto without help.

    And D-Wade has been winning in Miami without help.

    Something just doesn't seem right.

6. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls

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    It's scary to imagine how good the Bulls would be if Boozer hadn't missed the first 18 games of the season.

    The Bulls are currently 29-14 and in first place in the pathetic Central Division, but they could be among the NBA's elite.

    Just imagine how crisp their offense would be if they had all offseason to work Boozer and Rose together.

    Boozer is currently averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and I feel like it could be even higher if he had played the first 18 games.

    Boozer coming back from injury sparked the Bulls to their rise in the Central Division, and he could end up being the best acquisition in the summer of 2010 free-agent class this season.

5. Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    If this were last season, the injury to Varejao is likely top-two on the list.

    Since the Cavaliers are terrible, he only comes in at No. 5.

    The loss of Varejao was the biggest blow to the already-decimated Cleveland Cavaliers roster.

    They currently have six players on the injury report, and are playing with four guys who started the season in street clothes or in the NBA D-League.

    Varejao may not score the most points on the team, but he is hands-down the best defender and rebounder on the roster.

    He is also a fan favorite, a high-energy player and a leader in the locker room.

    In fact, when veterans like Antawn Jamison were actively speaking down on the team, Varejao was committing himself to the franchise.

    Varejao's season was lost to an ankle injury, and so was any chance of the Cleveland Cavaliers at being competitive.

    Like we say in Cleveland, there's always next year.

4. Caron Butler, Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks were having yet another solid regular season.

    They had one of the deepest teams in the league, and solid scorers at every starting position.

    And then Caron Butler went down with a knee injury for the year.

    Not only did Butler's injury land a big blow on the Mavericks, it also hurt their flexibility to make a trade around deadline time.

    Butler's play at the small forward position was inspiring, but he was also the team's biggest trading chip.

    He is a solid, All-Star caliber player with an $11 million expiring contract.

    Now, there are ways of getting around trading an injured player.

    But it would've been much easier for the Mavericks to trade Butler in an effort to acquire a star when he was healthy.

    Butler's injury means the Mavericks will need to go out and get a scorer at the small forward position if they wish to compete in the Western Conference playoffs this season.

3. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

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    It is impressive to think that the Bulls have played as well as they have this season.

    Think about it.

    Their biggest free-agent acquisition was hurt the first 18 games, and then their energetic, rebounding machine gets hurt just six games later.

    This team could be deadly with a combination of Rose, Boozer and Noah.

    Instead, the Bulls are hoping that Noah makes it back for the playoffs.

    I mean, Chicago was 7-2 when Noah and Boozer played together; not bad for their first time on the court on the same team.

    Noah was also having his best season as a pro, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds per game.

    Hopefully that thumb heals quickly, so the Bulls can work Noah back into the rotation come playoff time.

2. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Could things get any worse for Portland?

    Greg Oden is declared out for the season yet again, Rudy Fernandez has been in a dispute all season, and then the unthinkable happens.

    Brandon Roy goes down with not one, but TWO knee injuries.

    Both requiring him to have surgery.

    Normally, one knee surgery takes six to eight months to completely heal from, so we will have to wait and see how long two knee surgeries take.

    And if that wasn't enough, Marcus Camby just recently got hurt and is out five weeks.

    Things are getting ugly in Portland, yet they keep on winning. They are 24-20 right now, and just defeated the Clippers last night.

    Oh, and Rudy Fernandez is finally happy about playing in Portland.

    It is hard to find a light at the end of the tunnel after losing the face of a franchise, but if Portland can keep winning, the fans just might be able to get past Roy's injury.

    For now.

1. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

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    You can fight with me and argue all you want, I will not back down from having Jennings at No. 1.

    No player's injury has had a bigger impact on their team than Jennings.

    Last season, Brandon Jennings led the Milwaukee Bucks to the playoffs just one season after being a lottery team.

    This season, the Bucks were expected to be at least a six seed in the East, but instead find themselves at 15-24 and on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

    If that isn't enough to make you believe, let's look at the record.


    That is Milwaukee's record since Jennings went down to injury.

    There have been reports that Jennings could be back at the beginning of January, but if he tries to come back too early from the injury, he could end up right back on the injured list for the remainder of the season.

    The best thing for Milwaukee would be to acquire a point guard to man the ship until he gets back, and let that foot heal correctly.

    Because let's face it: Is a team really ever out of contention in the East?