It’s an old adage that staying healthy is the key for contending for the NBA Championship. A key injury can spell disaster, even for the assumed contenders like the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs.
For the other teams in the league, the margin for error is much smaller. One star going down can be catastrophic and having an important role player absent can be a sizable step-back. Clubs built around one or two central players will have a tough time if they go down.
That begs the question of what franchises are most susceptible to injuries to important players. Here are the three players who need to stay healthy for their teams to have a chance:
The third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft hasn’t played a single minute for the Philadelphia 76ers. But, this year coach Brett Brown told Zach Lowe that the young center would be ready to play this season.
Fans have even been treated to more footage of the seven footer playing this summer and he looks like he’s in great shape. That’s a good thing for a franchise that has been all about tanking for the past three seasons.
Sam Hinkie’s “process” paid off with the drafting of Ben Simmons this year and now it’s time for the Sixers to show some improvement. The number one overall pick can only do so much and having Embiid would be a great boost to the young forward.
However, any setbacks would send the city back to the lottery for the umpteenth time.
At one point, Eric Gordon was the centerpiece in the trade that brought Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. Now, he’s just trying to get his career back on track. The shooting guard is looking to contribute in a new city after a stint in New Orleans that was riddled with injuries.
Houston has had a great deal of roster turnover this offseason with Dwight Howard going home to Atlanta and a new coach to boot in Mike D’Antoni. The 27-year-old has been known as a sniper from deep in his NBA career and those types of shooters flourish with D’Antoni.
The “Seven Seconds or Less” play style will do wonders for both the six-foot-four shooter and his running mates. But, as always, injuries loom for the former Hoosier. Knee injuries have severely limited his time on the court and playing an uptempo system might be playing with fire.
If he can return to his productivity level as a Clipper in H-Town, they will be a much scarier outfit this year.
Since his bout with blood clots two years ago, Bosh has been under constant evaluation by the Miami Heat’s training staff. He was pulled from action that season after the trade deadline and his absence limited that team’s potential.
Last year he was named an All-Star and before the game was diagnosed with the clots again. His illness left Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside to carry the team without him. But, this season, Wade is in Chicago and he’s the only member of the “Big 3” left.
He will have to be vintage Chris Bosh for the team to reach the postseason. That is a tall task with the risk of life-threatening blood clots hovering over every game. And even then, if he gets hurt, Whiteside just isn’t ready to carry a franchise.
For all three teams, they can only cross their fingers and hope.