Injuries decimate NBA rosters
Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 00:01
Injuries have affected nearly every NBA team this season. Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Marc Gasol and Derrick Rose are sidelined with knee injuries. Chris Paul suffered a separated shoulder. Brooke Lopez is out for the season with a broken foot. Phoenix point guard Eric Bledsoe is out indefinitely after tearing his meniscus in his knee. Friday, New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday broke his leg.
Sports injuries are both devastating and unpredictable. Although the NBA maintains the rate of players suffering “significant” injuries is consistent with the injury trends over the past five seasons, the loss of so many All-Star caliber athletes has exposed how well — and how poorly — certain teams handle the absence of their elite players.
In Rose’s case, a knee injury just 10 games into the season robbed Chicago of the 2010-11 MVP, forcing the Bulls to spend $17.6 million this year on a star athlete unable to play for much of the season. The Bulls, despite early expectations to be Eastern Conference contenders, are a game under .500.
Rose isn’t the only athlete drawing a major contract while on the injured list — Kobe Bryant tore his achilles tendon against Golden State last year, effectively cutting LA’s season short and calling into question the aging star’s worth. Despite the injury, the Lakers awarded Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension.
He played just six games this season before injuring his left knee, joining fellow injured superstar Steve Nash on the Laker bench. The Lakers are 14-23 overall this season, good enough for the third worst record in the Western Conference.
The Oklahoma City Thunder started the season 24-6, but are only 4-3 since losing point guard Russell Westbrook to arthroscopic knee surgery, with losses to Utah and Brooklyn. Matt Moore, senior NBA writer for CBS sports, summarizes the impact of the injured point guard:
“With Russell Westbrook, they have a title contender, without Russell Westbrook, they have the 2006 Cavaliers,” Moore said.
NBA point guards seem particularly susceptible to injury. Nine starting point guards have missed games due to injury so far this year, including Boston’s Rajon Rondo, New Jersey’s Deron Williams and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving. The absence of these versatile guards leaves the respective offenses one-dimensional — not one of those teams is above .500 this season.
According to basketball-reference.com, a website that tracks NBA statistics and trends, the overall financial impact of the games missed by starting point guards this season totals $22 million.