With the new NBA season starting in just six days, here’s a look at my preseason rankings for the 2012-13 season. Here’s the article covering the lower half of the NBA and here’s the article on the league’s top 15 teams.
In today’s star-studded NBA Injury Update, a lot of playoff-bound teams are dealing with injuries to their key players. Here are the top injury headlines of the past week:
Dwight Howard – Howard left for Los Angeles to get a second opinion on his back injury and was told he has a herniated disk in his lower back. He will most likely miss the Magic’s games Sunday and Monday, which would be eight in a row. Word on the street is that people within the Orlando organization wanted Superman to return to the court, but Howard wasn’t taking any chances and wanted to be completely healthy for the playoffs, which is why he sought a second opinion. There is no timetable for Howard’s return at this point.
Kevin Love – Kevin Love suffered a mild concussion and neck strain against the Nuggets on Wednesday and missed yesterday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. There is a chance that Minnesota will shut him down for the rest of the season to avoid any potential risks that concussions bring. With so few games left in the season and the Timberwolves not contending for anything, don’t be surprised if Love is done for this year.
Kobe Bryant – Kobe sat out for the Lakers’ game last night against the Denver Nuggets. Bryant has missed the last four games with an inflamed left shin, but the injury is apparently not too serious; although he’s missed a few games, the only reason is because of the nature of the injury. Once he’s been inactive long enough, the shin shouldn’t bother him for the rest of the season. The only problem is waiting it out until Kobe reaches that point.
LaMarcus Aldridge – Aldridge will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury as the Trail Blazers’ injury woes continue. Although Portland isn’t contending for anything, Blazer fans won’t be happy to hear that an MRI found an abnormality in his hip that will warrant further evaluation. He may undergo surgery, but hopefully this isn’t the kind of injury that will affect him for next season.
James Harden – James Harden, the best bench player in the league and OKC’s most important piece in winning a title this year, missed last night’s game with a sore left knee. It was only the second game Harden has missed all season. Knee injuries are never a good sign, but hopefully it does not amount to anything more than just a sore knee.
Ray Allen – Allen remained behind on the Celtics’ road trip last night to receive treatment on his ankle injury. It’s not certain whether or not he will rejoin the team for the remainder of their four-game road trip but Danny Ainge said he expects him back on the court soon.
Kyrie Irving – Irving is still about a week away from being able to return, but by that point, the Cavs may just shut him down for the rest of the season to avoid any risk to their rookie sensation. It’s much more important for Cleveland to make sure he’s healthy for next season since the Cavaliers aren’t contending for anything.
Jarrett Jack – Jack will miss the remainder of the season recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot. The Hornets haven’t been able to catch a break this season, as injuries to Jack, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Carl Landry have crippled them at times.
Amare Stoudemire – Amare is still going to be out for awhile thanks to a bulging disk in his back, but his return seems a lot closer than it did a few weeks ago. Stoudemire could be back on the court in just a few weeks, perhaps making an appearance in the Knicks first-round playoff matchup if all goes according to plan. However, no specific timetable has been given.
Jeremy Lin – After having knee surgery, Lin said he feels better but probably won’t be available for New York’s first round playoff matchup. This means Lin would probably only be available for the Knicks this season if they somehow got past either the Bulls or the Heat in the first round.
Andrea Bargnani – Bargnani has struggled with injury problems all season long, so it’s unfortunate that he will miss the remainder of the season with a calf injury. The Raptors have no reason to rush him back to the court and given his injury history, it’s no surprise they’ll allow him to sit for the rest of the year.
Hedo Turkoglu – Turkoglu will miss another two weeks after having surgery to repair facial fractures he sustained about a week ago. The Magic could have him back in time for their first round playoff series.
Nene – Nene, no stranger to this injury list, has missed six straight games due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot. However, he is expected to return sometime next week for the Wizards.
Gerald Wallace – After hurting his hamstring in Sunday’s game against the Cavs, Wallace has missed his last two games. No timetable on his return has been given yet.
Jose Calderon – Calderon missed Toronto’s game against the Celtics last night with an eye injury he sustained after taking an elbow to the eye Wednesday against the Nets. He had to get three stitches above his right eye for the injury.
Luke Ridnour – Ridnour has missed the Timberwolves’ last five games due to a sprained ankle and looks doubtful for tonight’s game against the Thunder.
Darren Collison – Collison missed last night’s game against the Cavs with a groin injury, which has sidelined him for the past three games.
Tony Allen – Allen missed the Grizzlies’ game against San Antonio on Thursday, but is set to return tonight against the Jazz after missing five games with a facial laceration.
Kevin Martin – Martin, who has not played since March 11 with a torn right shoulder, is going through rehab but is not expected to return anytime soon.
Brook Lopez – Lopez returned to the Nets’ starting lineup last night against Orlando and had 15 points in 28 minutes. Despite missing nearly every game of the season so far, Lopez had a solid outing in his first game with extended minutes, and should get better as the rust wears off.
Iman Shumpert – Shumpert, who has missed the Knicks’ last two games with patella tendinitis in his left knee, was forced to withdraw from the All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He will be replaced by Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz. The Knicks are missing one of their better perimeter defenders, but can survive without his presence for awhile.
Joe Johnson – Johnson was ruled out of the All-Star game because of left knee tendinitis. He missed last night’s game against the Knicks, who got an easy win over the Hawks without him on the floor. He is expected to return by February 29th for Atlanta’s game against the Warriors. Rajon Rondo will replace Johnson in the All-Star game.
Greg Oden – Oden had his fifth knee surgery in five years on Monday. He has not played in a game since the end of 2007 and no estimate for his return has been given. This is another tough break for Trail Blazers fans. Between Oden and Brandon Roy’s early retirement due to his deteriorating knees, “injury” has become a cursed word in Portland.
Al Horford – Horford tweeted on Tuesday that he has not even begun rehab for his pectoral surgery. He is still in the recovery phase, so his return will likely be mid-April after rehab. This news is unfortunate for Hawks fans, who are now missing him and Joe Johnson.
Ty Lawson – Lawson missed last night’s game against the Clippers with a sprained ankle. He may play tonight, but the Nuggets may decide to bench him until after the All-Star break and give him a little more time to rest.
Rip Hamilton – Coach Thibodeau said Hamilton will return a little before or soon after the All-Star break. He has been out since the end of January with groin and thigh issues, but his return is not necessary as D-Rose and the rest of the Bulls are rolling again.
Manu Ginobili – Ginobili is set to miss a few weeks after straining his left oblique on Saturday. The Spurs have been fine without him this season, streaking to the second spot in the West, but would obviously like to have him back and healthy.
Spencer Hawes – The 76ers are starting to miss this big man’s presence, especially in rebounding and scoring. Unfortunately, there is still nothing new to report. Hawes is still in the walking boot and slated for a return sometime in March.
Tiago Splitter – Splitter is expected to miss two weeks after sustaining a calf injury in the Spurs’ game against the Clippers on Saturday. He had been a solid contributor off the bench for San Antonio, but they should be okay for two weeks without him.
Zach Randolph – Z-Bo will stay in Memphis during All-Star weekend and work with the team’s athletic trainer. He is expected to start contract drills on Monday and is expected to return on March 7 for the Grizzlies’ game against Golden State. He has played in only four games this season due to an MCL tear.
Jason Richardson – J-Rich missed his third straight game with a chest inflammation. He will be getting a second opinion to make sure the situation isn’t serious, but he should be back after the All-Star break.
Stephen Jackson – Jackson has missed the Bucks’ last two games with a hamstring injury. His playing time has been very inconsistent this season due to Coach Scott Skiles’ problem with Jackson’s attitude. This injury certainly won’t help the situation.
Danilo Gallinari – Gallinari is still on schedule to return from the ankle injury after the All-Star break. He has limited to the exercise bike in practice, but he said he’s feeling better. If all goes according to plan, the Nuggets should welcome him back into the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Trailblazers.
Andrea Bargnani – Bargnani is still set to return sometime in March after the All-Star break. No immediate timetable for his return has been given, however.
Brandon Bass – Bass is also set to return from his knee injury after All-Star weekend. The Celtics really could use the offensive boost off the bench.
Carl Landry – Landry, who has missed the last two weeks with an MCL sprain, is still expected to be out for another few weeks. His return will do little to help the Hornets improve their standing this season, but he should be set to return sometime in March.
Byron Mullens – Mullens sat out last night against the Pacers with an illness. He is listed as day-to-day right now.
Nene – Nene is still expected to sit out until after the All-Star break. Coach Karl said he will likely not average a lot of minutes again until next season given his conditioning.
Elton Brand – Brand’s sprained right thumb will keep him out until after the All-Star break. Hopefully this injury doesn’t become a recurring issue, as he missed two games earlier this month for the same reason.
Gerald Henderson – Henderson missed his 9th consecutive game for the Bobcats last night, but is expected to return after the All-Star break.
Eric Gordon – Gordon will be out until early April at the earliest as he revealed he has cartilage damage in his knee injury. This is another blow to the Hornets’ already catastrophic season.
Andray Blatche – Blatche is set to test his calf sometime this week. He has sat out for the Wizards since the end of January.
Drew Gooden – Gooden has a torn ligament in his right wrist and is set to get a second opinion on the injury. He said he hopes to be back after the All-Star break.
Emeka Okafor – Okafor has missed the last four games with a sore left knee, but should return for the Hornets right after the All-Star break.
Here are some injury updates on some key players around the league:
Danilo Gallinari -Gallinari still has about three weeks left until returning from a chip fracture in his left ankle. He was having a great season with Denver until the injury, and the Nuggets need him back as they have lost four of their last six without him.
Derrick Rose – D-Rose is still listed as day-to-day and saw a back specialist earlier in the week, but he’s been listed as day-to-day since the back spasms were first reported, so you’re going to want to check back on this one often. The Bulls have done fine without Rose recently, but will need him healthy to keep it going.
Chauncey Billups – Billups’ Achilles surgery was successful and he says he will be in the NBA after recovery. Whether or not that will be for the 2012-13 season remains to be seen, but he’s definitely done for the year. This is a big blow to the Clippers, who were starting to look like big contenders in the West with the helpful addition of Kenyon Martin. The team will have to rely on more leadership from Chris Paul, especially when the playoffs come around.
Zach Randolph – Z-Bo has been cleared for non-contact drills in practice and is looking at returning to the court in the first or second week of March. He has only played in four games this season thanks to his MCL tear back in January and will likely be a little rusty, so it could take some time for him to get back into the swing of things.
Carmelo Anthony – Melo and the Knicks aren’t going to rush the groin injury because Lin has been taking care of business. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Mavs, but you should probably expect him back in the lineup sometime next week.
Spencer Hawes will miss extended time as he will be spending the next two weeks in a walking boot for his strained Achilles. You can look for him to be back in March after the All-Star break. Brandon Bass and Emeka Okafor will also sit out until after the All-Star break, although their returns looks like they will be more imminent.
Andrea Bargnani’s timetable for a return is still unknown at this point. He was leading the team in scoring but has only played in two games since January 13.
Anderson Varejao will miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured wrist. This definitely won’t help an already lackluster Cavs squad.
Jason Terry sat out last night against the 76ers for personal reasons but should be back for Sunday’s game against the Knicks.
LaMarcus Aldridge is considered a game-time decision for Saturday’s game.
Nene has missed the last three games but is still listed as day-to-day with the calf injury. Keep an eye on this one moving forward.