The NBA All-Scar Team
Upon further review, I just now realized I should also have created an All-Scar team, listing all the falling stars who have been taken out of NBA action already.
And unlike last season, we don't have a lockout or a condensed schedule to blame for all these injuries.
That's why teams like Minnesota and Washington--who both have two players on this list--will have to battle through adversity, if they intend on living up to their up-and-coming billing.
Andrew Bynum, 76ers … The 2012 All-Star center is out indefinitely with a bone bruise in the left knee area. It's an injury that was supposed to heal by October, but has taken a Bynumesque long time to get better. No worries. Philly will rely on Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young to be their fleet-afoot bigs 'til Bynum gets back. If the 76ers are .500 by the time he returns, consider the respite a success.
Kevin Love, Timberwolves … The two-time All-Star power forward broke two bones in his right hand in a push-up mishap at home--seriously--and now Minnesota is just hoping Santa returns him back into the T-Wolves' starting lineup sometime before Christmas. This seriously hurts Minnesota's chances at making the playoffs this season, especially with Ricky Rubio being out too. I just hope Love doesn't blame the organization for this mishap, like he did last summer after missing 42 games the previous three seasons.
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks … When he's not too busy singing or dancing, the 11-time All-Star is rehabbing in anticipation of a early December return, which should be enough time to keep the Mavericks in the playoff hunt. But who knows how quickly Dirk becomes Dirk again after undergoing October surgery on his right knee.
Derrick Rose, Bulls … Thanks to adidas, we're getting visual updates on the status of Rose. Now Rose Nation is expecting a March return--10 months from the time he suffered his torn ACL injury--which should give the 2010-11 MVP more than a month to get ready for the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
John Wall, Wizards … Wall's stress injury to his right knee didn't require surgery, but the 2010-11 first-team All-Rookie point guard will still miss most of November. Until then, the world waits with bated breath to see if the third-year prospect is now ready to make the Year 3 leap in winning play like predecessors Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant before him.
Nene, Wizards … Wary of signing an injured Nene to a 5-year, $65 million contract, Denver shipped the center to Washington. Now, everyone is getting an uneasy feeling, with Nene still dealing with a nagging case of plantar fasciitis--the same injury that took him out of the Wizards' last 10 games last season. The ailment has continued to bug him since playing at the London Olympics, Nene says he won't return until he is 100 percent, so the Wiz is hopeful he will be back sooner rather than later.
Amare Stoudemire, Knicks … Amare's injury, I feel, is a blessing in disguise, since it forces Carmelo Anthony to gravitate to his more natural power forward position in the starting lineup, playing alongside center Tyson Chandler. The Knicks' fast start seems to be proving that theory correct, so the longer it takes for Stoudemire to return, the better. Timetables now have the six-time All-Star returning in mid-December, so if Coach Mike Woodson takes note, New York could be better off in the long run … that is, if Woodson has the intestinal fortitude to bring a $20 million big man off the bench.
Danny Granger, Pacers … Pacers fans got the bad news Wednesday that their 2009 All-Star will be out until mid-February after receiving an injection in his left knee to treat patellar teninosis. Is Indiana still a playoff team? Sure. It's probable. But it will be difficult now to lock down a 1-through-4 playoff seed with Granger missing 30-plus games.
Eric Gordon, Hornets … Gordon's never-ending knee problems now have him taking a trip to Los Angeles to rehab it out. He is not expected to return to action for New Orleans until mid-December. On top of all that, you've got speculation that Gordon's right knee injury is not the only thing ailing him these days.
Chauncey Billups, Clippers … With sixth-man Jamal Crawford shooting the lights out at Staples Center and Eric Bledsoe getting valuable tutelage from All-Galaxy Chris Paul on how to run the point, nobody is rushing the return of five-time All-Star to the lineup. However, when the ultimate leader returns from Achilles' tendon surgery, expect the tone to get more serious, the play to get much smarter and the hopes to get even higher. Billups is practicing with his teammates now and says he'll be back in game uniform by early December.
Steve Nash, Lakers … Nash's injury--a small fracture to his fibula in his left leg--was originally thought to take the eight-time All-Star out three weeks, but word is the Lakers point guard may be back in uniform by mid-to-late November.
Ricky Rubio, Timberwolves … The first-team All-Rookie point guard is moving laterally and recovering well from his torn ACL injury from last season. Both Rubio and Love have taken their rehab on the road, even though they are not ready for a return this month. They're both doing it for the good of team camaraderie. Look for Rubio's return sometime in late December or early January.