The regular part of the 2017/18 NBA season has reached its first third and we are witnessing loads of great basketball being played all over the league. After an off-season frenzy which reshaped the power rankings in a major way, we saw new and many improved contenders emerge via trade (Wolves, Thunder, Rockets) or via the draft (Trust the process!) and some teams go into full-on tank mode (Bulls, Hawks, Pacers, Kings).
Each franchise goes into a new NBA season with ambitions and aspirations. They usually base those on numerous factors that can be controlled, more or less, like who they have on their roster, who's coaching the team and if their players represent the best fit for the way their coach wants to play.
Unfortunately, some factors and events cannot be predicted and calculated upon. Seasons turn from successful to disappointing in a blink of an eye. Coaches get fired, team chemistry suffers from a misjudged roster addition or subtraction, sometimes teams just aim too high or employ wrong people.
And then, there are injuries. A single play can turn everything upside down, as we saw during the first Gordon Hayward's game as a Celtic, for example. Sports medicine has improved immensely during the last decade, injury prevention is at its peak, but these things still happen, nevertheless.
The league has done much in order to prevent injuries by reshaping the calendar, eliminating some back-to-back games and shortening the pre-season. Kawhi Leonard got hurt in the previous Western conference finals after shooting a three and Zaza slid his foot under him, so the referees were instructed to take a closer look to guys defending three-pointers. Players are practicing smarter and taking better care of their bodies. All that has got us to the point that 32-year-old Lebron James is playing the most minutes per game in the league in a highly physical manner and rarely misses any games due to injury.
However, we can count on the fact that guys will get injured during the long and strenuous NBA season. It is a risk of their job. Clippers were doing so well at the start of the season, but then Teodosic got hurt, Gallinari soon after and the latest news says that Patrick Beverley will miss the rest of the season due to the second injury in the last 3 games. They took a risk with these guys and it didn't pay off, as it seems.
This unfortunate chain of events inspired us to make a list of top 10 injury-prone NBA players, so here it is:
10. Patrick Beverley
At first glance, Beverley doesn't strike us as an injury-prone player, but when we dug a little deeper we found that in his first 5 years in the league he consistently missed time with nagging injuries. For his career, he’s missed 41, 26, 26, 11 and 15 games each season, only topping the 70-game threshold once.
After Chris Paul's departure, Beverley arrived as a part of that deal with the Rockets and was viewed as a valuable part of the backcourt of Teodosic, Rivers and Lou Williams, given that he is the only one who can successfully guard opponents. Unfortunately, he won't be playing until the next season and that is a major blow for the franchise.
9. Danilo Gallinari
The Italian forward has signed a high-risk high reward three-year 65 million $ contract with the Clippers this offseason. Alas, given the history of Blake Griffin's injuries and the one of his own, and the fact that he has already missed some time during the first third of this young season, it seems that the gamble Doc Rivers took on him won't pay off.
When healthy, his numbers are very strong: 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on .447/.389/.902 shooting splits last year, but the fact that he’s also missed 19, 29, 23 and 82 games dating back to the ACL tear that ended his promising 2012-13 season is a major concern.
8. Derrick Favors
There's much on the line for Derrick Favors this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of campaign, so this is his contract year. The Jazz have lost Gordon Hayward and George Hill this offseason and Rudy Gobert recently got injured and won't play for a couple of weeks, so the team needs production from players who were lower in the pecking order. One of these players could be Derrick Favors, but the recent parameters are everything but promising.
With as much as his career at stake, the last season's numbers were pretty unconvincing: 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while missing 32 games. The season before, 2015/16, he was putting up nearly All-Star numbers: 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game but missed 20 games, as well. Overall, since his rookie campaign he has played in 78, 65, 77, 73, 74, 62 and 50 games respectively.
It is clear that both his health and his production are diminishing. Also, his pretty awkward fit next to Gobert, the evident lack of spacing in Utah's offense (which his style of play obviously doesn't help) as well as the fact that Ekpeh Udoh provides all the needed defensive presence at backup 5, certainly don't make his future look so bright.
7. Nerlens Noel
Not a season ago, Nerlens Noel was a very valuable commodity, a highly sought after rim-runner and rim-protector, complaining of an obvious lack of playing time with the Sixers and demanding a trade. Oh, how the tables have turned! When he finally got the trade to Dallas, everything seemed to click just right for the young big man. Just imagine, Dirk spacing the floor and Nerlens running to the rim and catching lobs, perfect! In his first two and a half seasons in the league, as a Sixer, he played 71, 67 and 29 games, started a large percentage of them. The problem was that the roster seemed overcrowded with 5s, namely Okafor, Embiid and Noel, and they couldn't play together.
After the trade, Nerlens played 22 games and started 12. Unfortunately, injuries held him out for 20 games that season, and between Philly and Dallas he still only suited up for 51 games. He’s had a torn left ACL that caused him to miss his entire rookie season, right knee tendinitis and more left knee problems. Though he only put up 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals per game in his 22 appearances with the Mavs last year, it was only two years ago that he averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game with the Sixers, so hopefully he can bounce back.
Then came the offseason and, for some insane reason, he turned down a four-year 70 million $ offer, hoping to get more in free agency. Needless to say, that didn't happen and he is playing on a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. There is still unlocked potential there, but he is only playing 12.5 minutes per game.
6. Chandler Parsons
This guy just can't catch a break. After signing a four-year, $94 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies last summer, being touted as a versatile and refined wing player who could finally provide some help for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, everything went downhill fast. In his first season, Parsons only played 34 games, averaging just 6.2 points and 2.5 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game. He shot 33.8 percent from the floor, 26.9 percent from deep. He entered the season coming off knee surgery, didn't play his first official game until November, missed 17 games with an injured knee, came back in December, and then was ruled out for the rest of the season with a meniscus tear in that same left knee. Not to say that all this came out of the blue, as all the signs were there for the Grizz.
I mean, just look at his career track record: drafted by Houston in 2011/12, and played 63, 76, 74 games through 2013/14. Went to Dallas and became Mark Cuban's BFF, played 66 and 61 games, most of them on a heavy minutes restriction.
He started this season well, but then Conley got injured, Marc Gasol got benched amidst a losing streak and then coach Fizz got fired.
Hopefully, this can represent a fresh start for both the franchise and Chandler Parsons.
5. Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid is a generational talent. The similarities between him and, for example, Hakeem Olajuwon are strikingly abundant. One could say that the only sky is the limit for the young Nigerian, but that's not entirely true in his case. His limitations are of a different kind, as illustrated by missing two entire seasons after being drafted by the Sixers in 2014/15 due to foot and knee injuries.
When we finally got to see him play in 2016/17 he simply blew everyone away. The numbers he put up as a rookie ( 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 assists per game), even though that should have been his third year in the league, would have added up to the best rookie season of all time. Such a shame he only lasted for 31 games before the Sixers shut it down. What's even more unbelievable, he only did that by playing a meager 24.5 minutes per game.
He started the 2017/18 campaign in an even stronger fashion, as he is averaging 22.8 points, 9 rebounds and 2.5 assists while playing 29.4 minutes per game. He is still on a minutes restriction, as the franchise needs to be careful in handling its cornerstone.
4. Jabari Parker
This is his fourth season in the league and his extension year with the Bucks. Watching this guy play is a joy as he is unquestionably very talented and has unlimited upside. The only problem is that two out of his three NBA seasons prematurely ended by an ACL tear in the same left knee. Jabari had a promising second season as he played 76 games. He also had a rookie campaign in which he'd managed to play only 25 games and his third season, the 2016/17, saw him play 51 games and average some very promising numbers: 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, .490/.365/.743 shooting splits.
His stats are those of a potentially max player, and the Bucks organization certainly views him as an integral part of their future, but these injuries combined with his athletic style of play are not a good sign.
3. Blake Griffin
Trading Chris Paul saw Blake finally being handed the keys to the Clippers' offense. In addition, he signed a five-year, $173 million contract extension which goes through his age-32 season. Unquestionably talented, he added the three-pointer this offseason, shooting it often and well. Suddenly, the discourse shifted from 'they should blow up Lob city and start rebuilding' to 'the Clippers are very good without CP3'. And they were good, albeit for the first 5 games.
Hopefully, things will get better again, as everyone deserves to see this team in the playoffs, healthy for the first time in a while.
As for Blake, well, he missed his entire rookie year due to a kneecap injury, and 15, 47 and 21 games over the last three years. Even worse than missing regular season games, he keeps missing playoff games due to season-ending injuries. Last year, he only managed to play three games before being ruled out due to a toe injury. The year before, it was a quad injury that took him out of four playoff games. The last time he stayed healthy, he put up 25.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.
2. Derrick Rose
The former youngest MVP in the league's history has had a bit of a bounce-back year in NY last season, both in terms of production and health. Still, this wasn't enough for a team to gamble on him with a multi-year contract and he had to settle for a veteran's minimum with the Cavs in order to try and prove that he still deserves a place in the league. The latest news are not good as he has taken some time off this week to contemplate his future in the league after yet another ankle injury.
Rose underwent 4 major knee surgeries during his nine-year career and he has missed 18, 16, 31, 72 and 82 games dating back to that first ACL tear.
1. Anthony Davis
The Brow. Drafted by the then-New Orleans Hornets in 2012/13, this guy had a somewhat unorthodox basketball upbringing – he went pretty much under the radar playing as a skinny, undersized backup point guard until he grew almost to his present height in just a single year. So, a four/five with point guard ball handling skills and a smooth shooting stroke. This rapid growth came with some downside, as well, primarily being much more susceptive to injury. It took a couple of years for his slight frame to fill out, and the physicality of NBA games took its toll on the young star.
In his rookie campaign, Davis played in 64 games and averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebs and 1.8 blocks per contest. The next year saw the team changing its name to Pelicans. As for Anthony Davis, well he simply became a monster on the stat sheet, averaging more than 26 points, nearly 11 boards and 2.5 rejections per game during the next four seasons of his career. The only negative are the nagging injuries which limited him to 67, 68, 61 and 75 games respectively. The list of these injuries is just unbelievable:
- 10/25/2017 Left Knee Swelling
- 10/17/2017 Illness
- 04/08/2017 Sore Left Knee
- 01/23/2017 Right Quad Contusion
- 01/17/2017 Sprained Left Thumb
- 01/11/2017 Bruised Left Hip
- 12/17/2016 Left Lower Leg Contusion
- 11/18/2016 Sore Quad
- 11/16/2016 Sore Quad
- 11/12/2016 Lower Back
- 10/12/2016 Sprained Ankle
- 03/18/2016 Sore Left Knee
- 02/27/2016 Sprained Right Toe
- 01/25/2016 Concussion
- 01/08/2016 Back
- 11/18/2015 Sore Shoulder
- 11/11/2015 Right Hip Strain
- 03/19/2015 Sprained Ankle
- 02/21/2015 Sprained Shoulder
- 02/07/2015 Sprained Right Shoulder
- 01/30/2015 Sore Groin
- 01/16/2015 Sprained Left Toe
- 12/13/2014 Chest Contusion
- 04/09/2014 Back Spasms
- 03/28/2014 Ankle
- 01/29/2014 Finger
- 12/01/2013 Fractured Left Hand
Hopefully, the interior presence and physicality of DeMarcus Cousins will help avoid some of them, as we need a healthy Brow as much as possible.