Assessing the Odds of Each L.A. Lakers Player Remaining Healthy for the Season

Jon Wilson@@JonWilson1986Contributor IIISeptember 20, 2012

Assessing the Odds of Each L.A. Lakers Player Remaining Healthy for the Season

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    The Los Angeles Lakers greatly upgraded their roster over the off-season, but in the process have remained one of the league's oldest teams. 

    The Lakers were the third oldest team in the league last season, according to Hoopism

    The average age of the Lakers' projected starting five for the coming season—Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard—is 32 years old. Last season's primary starting five for the Lakers had an average age of 31. 

    With age comes wisdom, but it also means avoiding injuries will be paramount for the team's success.

    In the following slides I give my odds, in the form of a percentage, of each Lakers player staying healthy for the entire season. 

    And to clarify, I'm not basing any of my numbers off of what each player may or may not do in his time away from the court. 

    So if Steve Nash rolls his ankle in a pick-up soccer match or Metta World Peace pulls a hammy in the next Yo Gabba Gabba Olympics, it's not on me. 

Dwight Howard

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    Will Dwight Howard make the Los Angeles Lakers a better team? Of course. 

    But the fact is Howard is coming off of a back surgery and, according to Associated Press writer Greg Beacham, is already expected to miss the Lakers training camp and first preseason game. 

    Fantasy basketball leagues such as CBS Sports and ESPN are warning that Howard could even miss a few of the first regular season games. 

    So my assumption is that Howard is almost a lock to miss some games due to his health this year; primarily his back. 

    That said, when the postseason arrives and everything is on the line, I expect Howard to be healthy and ready to make an impact in the Western Conference. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 1% (he might not even play the first game)

Kobe Bryant

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    Will Kobe Bryant stay healthy all season? 

    Bryant is third among active players in total minutes played, and the first of three current Lakers in the top ten. 

    Does that mean he's been healthy his whole career? Absolutely not. 

    In fact, as Bleacher Report senior analyst Joshua Sexton pointed out in January, Bryant has actually had a very "gruesome" injury history. 

    Bryant is a warrior, plain and simple. 

    He's had a ton of injuries—from the broken finger that went untreated, to nagging knee problems, to the broken nose he suffered in the All-Star Game last season—but has simply willed his way through them; rarely missing more than a few games at a time. 

    Lakers' fans, I believe whole-heartledly that Bryant will be front and center during any and all games with something on the line, but for a 34-year-old who has been banged up as many times as Bryant has in his career, it's hard for me to imagine that he won't miss at least a few games with a sprained-this or a twisted-that. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 50%

Pau Gasol

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    Pau Gasol is 26th on the active list in career minutes played, according to

    He's the fourth current Lakers player in the top 26, behind Kobe Bryant and two other teammates that I will mention in later slides. 

    Gasol has also averaged 36 minutes per game for his career and started all but six games that he's played in. 

    Gasol has had a couple of injuries that set him back for a portion of a season—namely foot injury in 2004, a broken foot in 2006-07, an ankle injury in 2008 and a hamstring injury in 2009-10—but he's been a workhorse for most of his career.

    He's a seven-footer, which means he'll always be susceptible to minor injuries, but Gasol will enter the coming season with no lingering injuries. 

    In fact, he played and started in every game last season except the final one, where the Lakers intentionally sat their entire starting five to get some rest before the playoffs.  

    I expect the same durability from Gasol in the coming season. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 95%

Steve Nash

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    The 38-year-old Steve Nash may be at the tail end of his career, but his former head coaches Mike D'Antoni and Alvin Gentry did an excellent job of making the most of his minutes in Phoenix.

    D'Antoni and Gentry both made sure Nash rested at the end of first quarters and the beginning of fourth quarters, while never letting him average more than 35.3 minutes per game in a season. 

    Nash has started in 86 percent of the games he's played in his career and all but one of the games he's played since the 2000-01 season.

    Nash has had a few dings along the way, including a banded up eye and broken nose in the playoffs, but he's still played in every single regular season game twice in his career and hasn't missed more than eight games in a season since 2000-01. 

    Nash is the second of three Lakers, behind Kobe Bryant, who rank in the top ten in minutes played among active players. 

    Mike Brown knows he has capable minute-eaters in Steve Blake and Chris Duhon, especially when there are enough other stars on the team to score without Nash on the floor.  

    So I expect Brown to follow in D'Antoni and Gentry's footsteps and make sure Nash's minutes are limited in order to keep him ready for crunch times and fresh for the playoffs. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 95%

Metta World Peace

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    Metta World Peace has had several nagging injuries in his career.

    If you look back at the amount of games he's played in his career, you'll find several missing. For a player who's almost always looked in shape and been known as a world class defender, that's not good. 

    However, there's another factor in play with his missing games: Suspensions. 

    I have no doubt that World Peace will come into this season as healthy as he can be, but his ability to play in every game this season will likely depend more on his antics than his health. 

    According to Josh Tinley of Midwest Sports Fans, World Peace has had 14 suspensions over his 13-year career, including the elbow he threw at James Harden last season and the famous season-long one he had for fighting with fans in Detroit.

    His number of suspensions is higher than his years played in the NBA

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 85%

    Odds of going the entire season without a suspension: 15% 

Antawn Jamison

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    Antawn Jamison is 10th among active NBA players in career minutes played and is the third current Laker on the list behind Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.  

    Jamison suffered a shoulder injury at the beginning of the 2009-10 season that caused him to miss some early season games. He had a broken pinky in 2011 that cost him all of his games in March and April. 

    Overall, Jamison has remained healthy for the bulk of his career and has even been able to play in every regular season game five times in his career. 

    He has a couple injuries under his belt, but I don't see any of them being carryovers to this season.

    His role off the bench will likely have him more refreshed than he's been in years. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 95%

Earl Clark

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    Earl Clark has been relatively healthy in his young three-year career. 

    The 24-year-old Clark hasn't had any major injuries and hasn't averaged more than 12.4 minute per game in any of those three seasons. 

    He's a forward who will be behind Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Antawn Jamison, Jordan Hill on the depth chart. 

    Young body + limited minutes = high chance he stays healthy. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 99%

Steve Blake

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    Steve Blake missed nearly a month last season after fracturing the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum, according to the Los Angeles Times

    But after recovering from the injury he went back to playing his normal minutes, including 12 postseason games last year. 

    Blake is a decent player, but his highlight reels are filled mainly with passes and hitting big jumpers. He's not the type of guard who's likely to roll an ankle trying to get to the rim. 

    As Steve Nash's backup, Blake will get 15-20 minutes per game, but I just don't see his style of play being very injury prone. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 99%

Jordan Hill

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    Jordan Hill suffered a strained right knee and sprained MCL last season that caused him to miss quite a few games in Houston and in Los Angeles last year. 

    Hill emerged from the injuries to log some quality playoff minutes in the regular season and playoffs as Andrew Bynum's backup.

    Hill is young, he's only entering his fourth season and he has a strong cast of big men around him in Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison.

    Nevertheless, being 6'10", 235 pounds and coming off a season where he missed nearly half of the games should make it likely that Hill will miss a few this season.

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 80%  

Chris Duhon

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    Chris Duhon missed some games at the 2010-11 season because of back and thumb injuries. However, he rebounded in 2011-12 to play in all but three games. 

    The rest of his career he's missed no more than 16 games in a season, and he's been a starter and a quality backup in his time in his eight years in the NBA.

    He'll be competing with Steve Blake for the backup point guard role, though I believe Blake will get the nod to start the season. But Duhon is more aggressive on offense then Blake is, which should make his odds of getting injured a wash with Blake's. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 99%

Devin Ebanks

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    Devin Ebanks suffered a tibia injury last season which set him back for a portion of the season. 

    He also injured his knee during the summer in a pro-am game, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    The Los Angeles Times reported that Ebanks said he's been cleared to play, but he could be behind the eight-ball on conditioning. 

    The Lakers' success won't depend on whether or not Ebanks can start the season healthy or in shape, so he should have all the time he needs to catch up. But Ebanks is a guy the Lakers need to be a solid defender and a tough body, and any leg injury almost by default makes you much likelier to succumb to further injuries. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 85%

Jodie Meeks

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    Jodie Meeks has been fairly healthy in his three-year NBA career.

    He played 60 games in his rookie season between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers as he was trying to make a name for himself.

    He played 74-of-82 games his sophomore season and all 66 games in last year's shortened season. 

    Meeks will be a solid scoring spark off the bench behind Kobe Bryant, and there's no sign that Lakers fans should be worried about Meeks being injured. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 99%

Darius Morris

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    Darius Morris had a wrist injury that sidelined him for a few games in the D-League last season, according to the Los Angeles Times

    But in his rookie campaign in the NBA last season, the main reason he didn't see much playing time was because of his performance, not his health. 

    Whether or not Morris plays much in the coming season, I expect him to be healthy.

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 99% 

The 100 Percenters

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    Will Robert Sacre, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Johnson-Odom, Reeves Nelson and Greg Somogyi all be healthy this season?

    I think a better question is will any of them see more than ten minutes a game? 

    All of the aforementioned players have one year of experience or less in the NBA. They all have log jams at their positions and will most likely only play during garbage time or if a man higher on the depth chart gets injured. 

    Barring some freak injury, all of the above should be warm and cozy on the bench all season long, at least for those who don't get cut at the end of training camp. 

    Odds of staying healthy for the season: 100%