As nearly everyone predicted, the injury situation is killing the NBA in this weird, wacky, short-but-way-more-compact season. Teams with more depth than talent are usurping the teams with a small group of superstars - the teams that have been successful in the past, with a full season.
Today, about a quarter of the way into the season, we'll take a look at the standings of both conferences (maybe, or maybe just the East today, we'll see), each team's injury situation, and where they'll be trending from now until midseason.
Derrick Rose, toe (day-to-day)
Rip Hamilton, groin (day-to-day)
CJ Watson (day-to-day)
Obviously, the potential to lose your starting frontcourt to injury is a black cloud. The good news for Chicago is their backup guards have been able to get it done, winning two games against the past few days. The ability to preserve Rose and Hamilton will be key for a deep playoff run for Chicago. As Michael Wilbon wrote this morning, they can beat teams like Phoenix without Rose, but they likely won't win a playoff game - let alone a series - without him. They might trend down slightly to preserve their health and depth.
Tracy McGrady, back (day-to-day)
Al Horford, pectoral tear (out 3-4 months)
Well, it was a good run while it lasted for the Hawks. Obviously they will be trending down now unless Joe Johnson and Josh Smith can turn their team of D-leaguers into stars.
Spencer Hawes, achilles (day-to-day)
This is a tricky situation for Philly. Hawes has been the biggest reason for their success, but playing him would mean risking a more severe injury to the achilles. The last thing the Sixers need is to lose Hawes for the whole season. And the Mo Speights trade could come back to bite them in the ass if they lack the guys to fill in for Hawes while he's resting. But I think they'll be alright.
Jason Richardson, knee (day-to-day)
Hedo Turkoglu, back (day-to-day)
Quentin Richardson, ankle (day-to-day)
The biggest injury Orlando could suffer would be losing Dwight Howard and having to start rebuilding early. They need to do well in the regular season and the playoffs to keep Dwight, and they can't suffer any injuries. They just can't. Lucky for them, they could go 10 or 11 men deep to preserve everyone. I think they'll trend up.
Eddy Curry, hip (day-to-day)
Eddy Curry, fat as shit (has yet to play and gets winded after 5-7 minutes)
Dwyane Wade, ankle (day-to-day)
It appears Wade will be out for a little while, but it's not all bad for Miami. Lebron James and Chris Bosh have done well enough in picking up his production. Throw in Mike Miller (6-6 3FG in his first game back from injury) and maybe even Curry down low if he can give them any minutes and the Heat will be just fine. Trending up.
Jeff Foster, back (out 2 weeks)
Jeff Pendergraph, concussion (day-to-day)
Don't worry, Pacers fans. Your team is in a good spot. Even without the Jeffs, they have 7 players that are legitimately good and 3 more that can play with them. Trending up, potentially even all the way up to the top.
Anthony Parker, back (day-to-day)
Tristan Thompson, can't make a low post shot (probably for a few more months, at least)
Trending down, but not really because of the injuries. They've overachieved to this point and the dream will end soon.
New York Knicks
Baron Davis, back (still has not begun practice yet, probably won't play before the All-Star break)
Carmelo Anthony, ankle (day-to-day)
If there is one player whose team can't afford to lose him, it's Anthony. The problem is that Mike D'Antoni doesn't seem to get that and he keeps playing Melo when he's probably not fit to be dressed. On January 15, the injury report read: "Anthony will try to play in Monday's game against Orlando." That should never happen. If you're hurt, throw the game away and save yourself for the playoffs or for games that actually matter. If Melo goes down and Amar'e Stoudemire continues proving that he's not that good, the Knicks could be in a very bad place.
Jeff Green, heart (out for season)
Keyon Dooling, knee (day-to-day)
Chris Wilcox, calf (day-to-day)
Rajon Rondo, wrist (day-to-day)
Ray Allen, old
Paul Pierce, old
Kevin Garnett, old
Jermaine O'Neal, old
Talk about a barrel of gunpowder. All but one of Boston's major contributors, either due to injury or age, is liable to be out for an extended period of time. Rondo will bounce back from his wrist injury, however, and the likelihood of all 3 of the big 3 getting hurt is low. I think they'll trend up (although not that much) and sneak into the playoffs.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, knee (day-to-day)
Beno Udrih, shoulder (day-to-day)
Andrew Bogut, concussion (day-to-day)
The Bucks will be fine. They have only won 4 games, but they are far and away the best 4-win team in the East. And they have a lot of depth and young guys - which hasn't helped them that much to this point but you can bet your car it will as the season goes on, guys get tired, and minutes have to be decreased.
New Jersey Nets
Brook Lopez, foot (still in a boot, hopes to start working out within a month)
Mikhail Prokorov definitely did some bad stuff while he was in Russia and karma is getting him back. He could have at least given his fans a show to watch if he gutted his team again and threw Dwight Howard on the court with Deron Williams. But the biggest piece of the Howard trade, Lopez, went down and will probably not play until the very end of this season - if at all. Trending down. Way down.
Andrea Bargnani, calf (day-to-day)
Aaron Gray, chest (day-to-day)
What can you say about Toronto besides, "Woof"? They are bad. They aren't going to get good. But I think they've found their spot in the standings: not the worst team, but pretty damn bad. Unless one of the following teams goes on a run, Toronto won't move.
Will Bynum, ankle (day-to-day)
Charlie Villanueva, cancer (day-to-day) (wait just kidding, it's his ankle)
Well they haven't lived up to expectations thus far, but at least nobody's out for the season yet!
DeSagna Diop, knee (day-to-day)
Corey Maggette, hamstring (out indefinitely, can't even jump right now)
Didn't Toph buy Corey Maggette in our starzz auction? (laughing out loud) That's a shame for Charlotte, though. Maggette was poised to be a big contributor. They have the young talent (guards for sure) but they still haven't found an identity. Basically what that means is I haven't had the opportunity to watch them yet so I don't really know what's going on there. Let's move on to a team that I have watched...
Andray Blatche, shoulder (day-to-day)
Their problem is not injuries, it's youth. When John Wall-Nick Young-Blatche-JaVale McGee put it together (and they do for a few minutes at a time), they look phenomenal. Wall is a blur. Young shoots the lights out. Blatche... makes midrange jump shots? And McGee dunks everything and blocks the shit out of everyone. Barring a serious injury to one of them, look for the Wiz to trend up a lot.