From early in the regular season to late in the playoffs, teams lost high impact players to injuries across the NBA. As training camp approaches, many are gearing up for a return to game action for the first time in months. Take a look at some key players who are on track to suit up this season after the road to recovery.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are far removed from championship contention, but Bryant won’t stop fighting. The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer tore his torn right rotator cuff in late January. Even though his 19th season was over, the same couldn’t be said for his career. Last weekend he posted a photo on Instagram announcing he was taking shots for the first time since his surgery. Bryant averaged 22.3 points (37.3% FG), 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 35 games last season.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: As the Cavs were within striking distance of an NBA Championship, Irving suffered a fractured left kneecap that sidelined him for the remainder of the Finals. The Cavaliers were at a disadvantage against the Golden State Warriors without their All-Star point guard, who had been playing through previous injuries. Irving ranked second on the team last season with 21.7 points and 5.2 assists per game (behind LeBron James in both categories) and led the Cavs with 36.4 minutes.
Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks: Matthews proved so much during his time with the Portland Trail Blazers that he earned a mega deal with the Mavericks while recovering from a left torn Achilles tendon. Mathews has said he will be ready to play on Opening Night, his first game since early March. Although there is a transition back from injuries, the Mavericks are hoping he will return to the aggressive player who averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game last season.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks: Parker was an early favorite for winning Rookie of the Year before suffering a season-ending ACL injury only two months into his career. The Bucks quietly finished above .500 and made the playoffs in spite of his absence. This season, his return plus the addition of Greg Monroe could move the team up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves will look to Rubio’s floor leadership when he returns from left ankle surgery. He averaged 10.3 points and 8.8 dimes last season prior to his injury. The oft-sidelined point guard will be a driving factor on a team stacked with young talent.
Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks: Last season, the Dallas Mavericks started off as contenders but had a lackluster finish in the playoffs. They were without Parsons for the majority of the first round series against the Houston Rockets. This offseason he underwent surgery on his right knee and recently posted a video of him shooting with coaches on Instagram. The small forward averaged 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season, only his fourth in the NBA.
A video posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on
Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets: The Rockets entered the playoffs shorthanded without point guard Beverley, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist late in the season. The team is anxious for his return, inking him to a multi-year deal this summer. He posted 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers: Even though the Warriors beat the Cavaliers in the Finals by going small, the return of Varejao will be a welcome one for his team. Varejao tore his Achilles in late December, another setback for the oft-injured center. While Timofey Mozgov thrived this season at the center position, Varejao provides a veteran presence and a proven on-the-court chemistry with longtime teammate James.
Who are you looking forward to watching once they return from injury? Share below.
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