NBA

NBA Saturday: Injuries Already Mounting During Preseason

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One of the worst parts of sports at all levels is injuries. Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies had terrible luck with injuries and had to cycle through 28 players throughout the regular season, including eight different players signed to 10-day contracts. Entering their regular season finale, between 12 players, the Grizzlies had lost 291 games to injuries. Somehow, against all odds, the Grizzlies still managed to make the playoffs, though they lost in four games to the San Antonio Spurs.

While the 2016-17 NBA season is still a few days away, we are already seeing injuries that range from minor to significant.

Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks

Khris Middleton was one of the most notable players to suffer a significant injury as teams started preparing for training camps to open and for the preseason to begin. On September 20, Middleton ruptured his left hamstring during a preseason workout and underwent surgery on September 28. He will reportedly be sidelined for about six months. Losing Middleton is a major blow to a Bucks team that is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2015-16 season. Middleton is a great wing-defender who has also established himself as a deadly shooter and playmaker on offense. Last season, Middleton averaged 18.2 points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons

Reggie Jackson will miss six-to-eight weeks as he recovers from tendinitis in his knee as well as a thumb injury. Jackson recently received platelet-rich plasma injections to help address the injuries. Last season, Jackson averaged 18.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from three-point range. Jackson is the motor of the Pistons’ offense and has formed a strong one-two game with center Andre Drummond. The Pistons are looking to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this season but will need Jackson at, or near, full health to make that happen.

Patrick Beverley – Houston Rockets

Patrick Beverley will reportedly undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, sidelining him for three weeks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Beverley is a tough defender at the point guard position and provides much-needed defense alongside James Harden in Houston’s backcourt. Harden will be playing de facto point guard under Mike D’Antoni this season, so the Rockets won’t lose much in terms of playmaking. However, it will be up to Eric Gordon to step into Beverley’s position and make a defensive impact in Houston.

Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons, the No.1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, suffered a foot injury on September 30 during a team scrimmage. The Philadelphia 76ers announced on October 4 that Simmons underwent successful surgery to repair an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. 76ers head coach Brett Brown suggested that Simmons could return in January, but later pulled back on that timeline.

“I was just getting excited about how soon he might be able to come back,” Brown said to Keith Pompey of Philly.com. “There are so much speculation and dates as a coach you sort of want to hear what you want to hear at a time. I did mention a January hopeful return. That is premature.

“That is a coach doing a lot more wishing than receiving instruction. So we will play this out. Everything is on track with his rehabilitation.”

Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers

On Friday night, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that center Nerlens Noel would undergo knee surgery to address an inflamed plica above his left knee. There is no timetable for Noel’s return, but this is a minor procedure that shouldn’t cause any significant issues for Noel. The 76ers have plenty of size in their frontcourt to absorb the loss of Noel, with players like Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric on the roster. Noel has been mentioned in trade rumors throughout the offseason and will likely continue to be considering how much overlapping talent the 76ers have at the center position.

Gordon Hayward – Utah Jazz

Gordon Hayward suffered a fractured finger on his left hand on October 7 and is expected to miss the beginning of the season. Hayward is arguably the Jazz’s most important player considering the large role he plays on offense as both a scorer and playmaker. People in and around the NBA are predicting that the Jazz will have a strong season, but they will need Hayward back in order to do any real damage in the Western Conference. Last season, Hayward averaged 19.7 points, five rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from three-point range.

Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs

On October 21, the San Antonio Spurs announced that Danny Green suffered a left quad strain and is expected to be sidelined for roughly three weeks. Green had a disappointing 2015-16 season for San Antonio, but he is still one of the better 3-and-D wings in the NBA. Whether Green’s play suffered because of nagging injuries or some other issue, the Spurs will need him to step up his production this season after the loss of Tim Duncan and the advanced age of several Spurs players.

Chandler Parsons – Memphis Grizzlies

Chandler Parsons underwent surgery on March 25 to repair a torn meniscus. Depending on the type of surgery that is performed, a player can sometimes return in a matter of weeks from this surgery. Parsons has reportedly been building the strength in his knee throughout the offseason, but there is still no clear timetable for his return. The Grizzlies, who signed Parsons to a four-year contract worth $94 million this offseason, are hopeful he will be ready to go at the beginning of the regular season.

Chris Bosh – Miami HEAT

Chris Bosh’s future in the NBA is in serious question after failing a physical in September. It seems that Bosh is still dealing with blot clot issues that make it extremely dangerous for him to play in an NBA game. Bosh first started dealing with this issue in February 2015 when a blood clot traveled to one of his lungs, which he was hospitalized for. Bosh has not given up on finding a way to make it back onto the court, but all indications are that, despite being under contract, his relationship with the HEAT is over.

Josh Richardson – Miami HEAT

Josh Richardson suffered a partially torn MCL during an offseason workout in early September. The young, promising guard was lined up to have an increased role after a strong showing last season and the departure of Dwyane Wade. Richardson should still see plenty of playing time as soon as he is healthy and able to play.

Tiago Splitter – Atlanta Hawks

Tiago Splitter is another player who will likely miss the start of the upcoming season. Splitter has been riddled with injuries since the Atlanta Hawks traded for him in 2015. On October 11, the Atlanta Hawks announced that Splitter would be sidelined for roughly four weeks after suffering a grade 2 hamstring strain. The Hawks, of course, have Dwight Howard at the starting center position, so the loss of Splitter isn’t a devastating setback for Atlanta. However, Splitter could be a nice contributor for a Hawks team that struggled with rebounding last season.

Ian Mahinmi – Washington Wizards

Ian Mahinmi underwent meniscus surgery on October 15 and is expected to be sidelined for four-to-six weeks. The Wizards signed Mahinmi to a four-year, $64 million deal this offseason to bring some defense and rebounding to their frontcourt. Mahinmi had a strong season for the Indiana Pacers in 2015-16 and established himself as a strong defensive presence for one of the best defensive teams in the league. Last season, Mahinmi averaged 9.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 assist and 1.1 blocks while shooting 58.9 percent from the field.

 

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About Jesse Blancarte

Jesse Blancarte

Jesse Blancarte is a Senior NBA Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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