NBA Lockout: 10 NBA Players Who Will Benefit Most from a Season off
The NBA lockout is a travesty of an event, and should the season actually be canceled, everyone affected is worse off for having been involved.
For the most part.
While the lockout is in no way good for fans and analysts, there are some players who stand to benefit from a season off, or at least don't stand to suffer any.
A whole year without NBA pay could be devastating, yet also prove worth it for some players in the long run. Such benefits are not so strong that players are likely to keep their fingers crossed in hopes of a canceled season, but they will benefit nonetheless.
The lockout is in no way comforting to the many fans who crave competitive basketball, but there are players who will take solace in knowing their situation hasn't worsened, and might even have improved, as a result of a missed season.
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Greg Oden only played in 21 games last season, and is still recovering some knee surgery, which means the lockout gives him more time to rehabilitate both his legs and career.
By no means is missing competitive action beneficial to Oden's attempt at proving his worth, but it does prevent him from trying to make a premature comeback, and thus damaging his knees and reputation even further.
Oden should use this time off, whether it be the entire season or just a slight delay, to rest up and rehabilitate his knee so he is as close to 100 percent as possible when the league is ready to go.
It isn't a stretch to say that Oden may have finally caught a break—no pun intended—by gaining some extra breathing room.
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Surprised to see the 23-year-old Stephen Curry here? You shouldn't be.
Curry sprained his ankle multiple times last season, and played through it after almost every occurrence. A season off, even if he winds up playing half-speed overseas, allows him to rest up and make sure his ankle is fully healed.
The sharp-shooting guard has a big season—whenever that may be—ahead of him, as he is poised to take the leadership reigns in Golden State. It would be a shame if he tried to do too much too quickly hurting both his and his team's ability to win.
When speed is one of your greatest weapons, a healthy ankle is sort of important. Curry would do well to remember that during this extra time off.
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At only 25, Rudy Gay is more than capable of returning to form when he steps onto the hardwood again.
That being said, Gay's shoulder surgery was no joke, and who knows if he is truly ready to go.
Had the season started on time, even amidst a flurry of speculation, Gay would surely have wanted to re-enter the fold as soon as possible, even if that meant playing before he was actually ready.
Currently, the small forward doesn't have to worry about making such a brash decision, as the lockout has done it for him. The longer he has to rehabilitate, the more likely it is that he can help the Grizzlies win and silence his critics when he returns.
This extra time off will prove incredibly valuable to Gay's well-being.
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After appearing in 80 games last season, the 45-game disaster of the 2009-2010 campaign is behind Chris Paul, right?
Wrong. Some try to deny it, but the fact is that left knee is still a serious liability for Paul. The way he moves and the amount of minutes he is accustomed to playing isn't doing it any good.
After literally carrying his team last season, this extra time off gives Paul some well-deserved rest. Any success the Hornets experience can be attributed to him and the 36 minutes per game he spent on the floor.
It must also be noted that this extra time off—should it turn into a cancelled season—may ensure that Paul's knee isn't forced to carry such a burden ever again. Many have him pegged to leave New Olreans next summer, and a year off means he doesn't have to jump through any more hoops to do so.
Paul may be anxious to play some NBA ball, but his left knee is probably is most likely basking in the glory of this lockout.
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After an incredible rookie season, Tyreke Evans' production was hampered quite a bit last season by an unfortunate case of plantar fasciitis.
It is unclear how serious Evans' case is, or how long it will take to heal, if ever, but the extra time off couldn't exactly hurt him. Such a painful injury does make Evans liable to sit around with a box of Twinkies on his way to becoming this lockout's Shawn Kemp, but if his work ethic over the past two years is any indication, we have nothing to worry about.
Few players Evans' age could benefit from an entire year off. At 22, he is still learning the game and honing his skills.
That being said, if his foot doesn't get better, there may not be all that many skills left to hone.
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There is some doubt as to whether Wilson Chandler, a restricted free agent, is happy with the Denver Nuggets, and a season off gives the versatile athlete a better chance of heading for greener pastures.
While Chandler could, and is likely, to draw interest from other teams, the Nuggets have the right to match any offer. If the season is canceled though, Chandler instantly becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. This gives him more of a say in his future.
As if that isn't enough, Chandler would be entering one of the most lucrative free-agency pools there has ever been. His name is not likely to top the list of many teams, but once the dust settles and it becomes clear who struck out on all the big names, money will be thrown his way.
Given these circumstances, it is likely that Chandler is enjoying his time overseas.
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Gerald Wallace, one of the more underrated players in the league, is an absolute workhorse who is in need of some serious rest.
Wallace has averaged 34 or more minutes per game for the past six seasons, and even averaged over 40 ticks per night in one of those years. He has played a lot of time out of position at power foward, and his body is likely to have taken a beating as a result.
At 29, and with 10 grueling seasons under his belt, Wallace may be enjoying this extra time off. Should the entire year be lost, he may not be so apt to complain, as he will likely return refreshed and completely rejuvenated the following year.
And that's not exactly a bad thing.
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If anyone in the league needs a rest from shouldering burden of his team, it is Dwight Howard.
This season is crucial for the big man, as it is likely to determine whether he feels it's worth it to remain in Orlando. To be honest though, even without a season it is pretty clear that the Magic aren't going anywhere too special anytime soon, even with Howard.
The extra time off allows Howard to break away from the nightly abuse he endures in the low-post, and also gives him time to gain a little perspective. Amidst the lockout, he is not around the fans as much, which may allow him to make a more objective decision regarding his future.
Furthermore, should the season be voided entirely, it allows Howard to keep his options open more in regards to free agency. While Howard holds all the leverage should the Magic decide to shop him, teams that have the cap room, but not the assets to acquire him via trade, like the Knicks, come back into play.
Howard's time in Orlando is coming to a close, and this extra time off prevents him from fruitlessly playing his heart out, and may make it easier to say goodbye.
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Few players over 30 will benefit from the likes of this lockout, as at this point their career clock is ticking.
David West is an exception, though. He is coming off major knee surgery and regardless of whether he was prepared to play now, this extra time off is doing him some good.
At 31, there is undoubtedly a sense of urgency—especially as a free agent—for West to perform now. That being said, stepping foot on the court before he is fully healthy could prove detrimental to the time he has left in the league.
Like his teammate Chris Paul, West should use this lockout as a chance to relax and recover. His career could depend upon it.
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Deron Williams benefits from the loss of a season more than anyone else in the league, including fellow free-agents-to-be Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
Why exactly? While Williams does not have as much time invested in his current team as either of the other two, if he bolts next summer, after the Nets mortgaged their future to obtain him, he is going to take some serious flack.
Even worse, should New Jersey actually experience a high level of success next season, and Williams jumps ship anyway, his image will take a major hit. A lost season, though, allows Williams to take things at face value, and not many would chastise him for leaving if the Nets roster stood pat.
That being said, a canceled season also gives Williams a better chance of becoming a part of a superstar powerhouse in New Jersey. If all the big names hit the open market, the Nets are free to chase after a second superstar, like Howard to convince Williams to stay.
Better yet, this same scenario ensures New Jersey doesn't have to give up ample assets via trade in order to acquire said superstar. If Howard is on the open market, the Nets could sign him outright, and use the would-have-been trade piece, Brook Lopez, to land a third star.
Josh Smith, anyone?
Either way you slice it, a season off has the potential to work wonders for Williams' future.
You can follow Dan Favale on Twitter here @Dan_Favale.