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.
Derrick Rose – Rose returned to practice but was limited and is unlikely to play tonight in the Bulls’ contest with the Raptors. Rose has missed the past five games for Chicago with a pulled groin but is still listed as day-to-day. Chicago has been successful without their star point guard on the court, but I’ve already written about how much D-Rose means to the Bulls and that sentiment grows with the playoffs looming.
Brook Lopez – Lopez’s ankle injury has been reevaluated and the New Jersey center will be out for at least another two weeks, putting his return date in mid-April. Because the Nets are not exactly contending for anything, they may consider just sidelining him for the rest of the year.
Kyle Lowry – Lowry’s bacterial infection that sent him to the hospital will keep him sidelined for an indefinite period of time. Lowry was initially projected to return in two to four weeks but The Houston Chronicle reports that his return could still be weeks away. This is a critical stretch for the Rockets, who currently hold on to the number eight seed in the West.
Kevin Martin – Martin’s MRI showed a tear in the labral of his right shoulder, an existing injury he aggravated February 2 and then became a major problem March 11 after running into a screen against the Cavs. Although he is listed as day-to-day, expect him to miss a more substantial amount of time now.
Michael Pietrus – Pietrus left Boston’s matchup with Philly yesterday on a stretcher in the first half. He was hospitalized and was diagnosed with a closed head injury after landing hard on his back in a collision with Lou Williams. The game was delayed for 10 minutes while medical trainers looked on. Fortunately, it was reported this morning that Pietrus was lucky enough to avoid a serious head injury, though he may have a concussion. Pietrus could return to the court sometime this season.
Andrew Bogut – Despite reports that Bogut could make a late-season return, Golden State’s new center will not be making his debut for the Warriors this season. In fact, Bogut may not even be ready to play for Australia in the Summer Olympics.
Al Horford – Horford will not play for the remainder of the regular season, but could possibly return during the postseason. Atlanta’s skilled big man tore his pectoral muscle January 11 and has not played since.
Eric Gordon – Gordon is set to return to practice next week. Although the Hornets didn’t give an expected return date, this is a good sign for New Orleans’ injury-plagued guard.
Tony Parker – Parker missed the Spurs’ game yesterday with a mild hamstring strain he sustained in Wednesday’s victory over Minnesota. For now, consider him day-to-day.
Stephen Curry – Curry’s ankle is set to be reexamined by the Warriors’ medical staff this weekend. His status for next week and perhaps the rest of the season will depend on what the medical staff determines, as the Warriors have said they will not play Curry until he is 100 percent.
Anderson Varejao – Varejao is expected to return to practice in one or two weeks after sitting out since February 10 with a wrist injury. However, the Cavs are starting to slip away from playoff contention, which means they will not rush Varejao’s return.
Rodney Stuckey – Stuckey missed yesterday’s game with a strained toe injury. It was the second game he has missed for the Pistons, but he is still listed as day-to-day.
Danilo Gallinari – After suffering a fractured left thumb against the Mavericks, Gallinari could miss up to four weeks. This is a tough break for Denver’s talented small forward, who already missed considerable time earlier this season and was just getting back into rhythm. However, the Nuggets should be okay and do not need to rush his return thanks to Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee.
Nikola Pekovic – Pekovic’s ankles, which have been a recurring problem over the past few weeks, might keep him sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Nuggets. Pekovic is hopeful to return for Minnesota’s matchup with Denver, but T-Wolves fans shouldn’t hold their breath until he has played (and stayed) on the court for an entire game.
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.