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NBA AM: Early Injuries Starting To Mount Up
Posted By Lang Greene On October 11, 2013 @ 9:11 am In NBA | No Comments
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The key to any NBA franchise’s title aspirations or improvement goals, in any given season, is deeply rooted on the premise of avoiding the injury bug. With training camp picking up steam and the regular season rapidly approaching, injuries around the league have started to mount.
While we knew the status of some injured players entering training camp (Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Lou Williams, Emeka Okafor, etc.), more names are being added to the list daily.
Let’s take a look at some of the guys presumed to play important roles for their teams this season who are currently on the mend:
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: Williams recently announced he would be sitting out the Nets’ next three preseason contests as he continues to nurse a troublesome sprained right ankle. Now, sprained ankles are commonplace in basketball but Williams’ is worrisome because not too long ago he was wearing a walking boot which obviously didn’t fully erase the problem. The Nets have revamped their roster this season and are thinking championship but if Williams’ wheels are compromised the road to contention will be even tougher.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: Five months ago Westbrook tore the meniscus in his right knee during Oklahoma City’s opening round playoff series versus Houston. The All-Star guard was fully expected to be ready for training camp, but after continued swelling he was forced to undergo another procedure to fix a loose stitch in the knee. Thunder officials are downplaying any potential long term effects, but Westbrook will miss at least the first month of the regular season.
J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers acquired Redick in a sign-and-trade this past summer to bolster their backcourt. However, Redick is currently nursing a bruised left quadriceps. While the guard is only expected to miss another two weeks on the floor, as a new face this time would have been great to gain cohesion with his new teammates.
C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers: McCollum, selected tenth overall in this past June’s draft, was expected to receive heavy minutes in the rotation as a rookie this season. But the former Lehigh product broke his left foot (fifth metatarsal) at the beginning of training camp, will require surgery and is out of the Blazers’ lineup indefinitely. The biggest issue with McCollum’s injury is that it is virtually identical to the one he suffered back in January during his senior year.
Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Stoudemire is sounding optimistic about being ready for the team’s regular season opener after undergoing what Knicks officials are deeming a “minor” knee procedure back in July. Once Stoudemire returns he will likely be limited to around 20 minutes per game, a far cry from his glory days as an All-Star caliber performer.
Brendan Haywood, Charlotte Bobcats: Haywood was a regular rotation player in Charlotte’s frontcourt last season but the arrival of free agent signee Al Jefferson and lottery pick Cody Zeller will diminish his role in 2014. With that being said, the veteran was still expected to be a contributor in the lineup. But Haywood will miss at least three months with a stress fracture in his left foot. The center will undergo surgery sometime next week.
Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers: Nash will turn 40 in February and spent his first season in Los Angeles battling leg and back trouble. The former league MVP is now battling continued stiffness in his left ankle which limited him to just nine minutes in the team’s most recent preseason contest. Nash will be ready for the regular season opener but an aging guard on wobbly wheels is most definitely a situation worth watching closely.
Brandan Wright, Dallas Mavericks: Wright has become a regular in Dallas’ frontcourt rotation the past two seasons, earning head coach Rick Carlisle’s trust in the process. However, the veteran forward is now out of the lineup indefinitely after suffering a non-displaced fracture to his left shoulder. Team officials say he will be evaluated weekly but his absence, especially if long term, could be huge for a team already struggling with depth issues in the frontcourt.
Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons: Stuckey has spent a lot of his tenure in Detroit being criticized, but he has developed into a double-digit scorer. The team will now have to find a way to replace this production as the guard will be out of the lineup indefinitely after fracturing his right thumb. Stuckey is expected to undergo surgery this week and after the procedure a return date will be set.
Pero Antic Had No Plans On Pursuing NBA Career: The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Pero Antic to a two-year deal at the start of free agency. The move didn’t generate much mainstream press, but the Hawks are hoping to have found an international gem.
Antic was a member of two Euroleague championship teams and was content to remain overseas the remainder of his career. But says when he got the call from Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer he couldn’t refuse the opportunity to give the league a try.
“After you win two Euro League championships I was trying to find a new challenge,” Antic told HOOPSWORLD. “I was trying to stay in Europe but when coach Bud called and told me what he expected of me, that he would like to see me here I couldn’t refuse a NBA coach or NBA franchise. I am happy to be here.”
Antic got his first taste of NBA action versus Miami earlier this week, logging 16 minutes and scoring three points on 1-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Antic says the Hawks signed him spread the floor to keep opposing defenses honest.
“Spread the court,” Antic said of his role. “In Europe I played the four position and I shoot a lot of threes. [I'm here to] build the team chemistry. Put some European flavor on the team.”
The Hawks are 1-1 during preseason action, losing to Miami but defeated Charlotte. The team’s next game is a road title against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 13.
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