Here at GameSevenSports we’ll officially come out and say it – Injuries suck and no one likes them. The NBA is so much better when every team is fighting at full force and fans get to watch their team without worrying about all the what ifs that arise with a player leaving the game for any amount of time. Unfortunately several NBA teams have started the year with some notable injuries that will leave stars sidelined weeks, months, and even the whole season. To highlight just how prevalent these injuries we’re going to tackle the most hotly contest topic in sports right now – Just how competitive would an NBA All-Injury team be?
The Ground Rules:
NBA injuries leave players out for varied timelines, so for our purposes we’re going to say players are only eligible for the All-Injury team if they are going to be out for at least a month (expected or slated to return on or after December 1st). We’re also going to make any players still out from injuries incurred towards the end of last season fair game as well. And lastly we are assuming that everyone plays 100% and has no lasting ill effects following their injury. This gives us 19 players to build our roster around. So who makes the cut? I’m glad you asked.
Meet The Team:
Guard: Isaiah Thomas
Injury/Expected Return: Hip/December 25th
Thomas sets the tone for the All-Injury team with his nose for the basket and ability to score and keep the offense on the attack. Coming off his best year ever, Thomas will be both the go-to scorer down the stretch and the offensive facilitator all while being an absolute liability on the defensive end.
Guard: Nicolas Batum
Injury/Expected Return: Elbow/December 1st
This 6’8″ 9 year NBA veteran provides some much needed defensive length to help compensate for the 5’9 Isaiah. Similar to his career to date, look for Batum to continue to be a stat sheet stuffer for the All-Injury team racking up points, assists and rebounds. While Batum historically has been an average three-point shooter where he really helps the team is his ability to guard nearly any position and switch on pick-n-rolls.
Forward: Gordon Hayward
Injury/Expected Return: Ankle/April 7th
Hayward is the second 20+ point scorer on the roster and statically the best 3 Point shooter for the All-Injury team after hitting nearly 40% last year from beyond the arc. While the former Jazz star can score from anywhere, look for him to be posted up behind the three point line to help space the floor for Thomas and company.
Forward: Jabari Parker
Injury/Expected Return: Knee/February 1st
I want you to try to imagine the terror instilled in defenders when they try to stop an Isaiah Thomas and Jabari Parker pick-n-roll. Do you jump out to stop Thomas? NOPE – he dumps it off to Parker rolling to the basket. Okay so you sag off on a rolling Parker then right? WRONG – Thomas takes it to the rack for the score. Okay now you have it all figured out, drop back and don’t let either player get to the rim. SIKE – Parker pops out for a sleek 24 foot jumper. You can’t win! Parker still has leaps and bounds to go to be an elite defender but his impressive tool belt of offense options makes him a great addition to the All-Injury team.
Forward: Harry Giles
Injury/Expected Return: Knee/January 2nd
Are we really starting a 19 year old rookie? Yes, because we are dangerously thin on the front line buy don’t be alarmed – Giles has tremendous upside that we are banking on shinning through. The 20th pick in this years draft provides some much needed athleticism in our frontcourt and can help defend multiple positions (hopefully well). Surrounded by scoring, Giles really only needs to be a defensive presence and rim protector and set picks on offense. Still too much pressure for a 19 year old? We’ll find out.
The Bench: Brandon Knight, Adreian Payne, Dante Exum, Solomon Hill
You can guarantee our 6th man of the year candidate Brandon Knight will see 20+ crucial minutes a night, playing both with and without the ball as he has done for the majority of his career in Phoenix already. Dante Exum literally makes up for Isaiah’s lack of length by subbing in for him with a 6’6″ frame and 6’9″ wingspan. Solomon Hill will have the distinct responsibility of playing a Zaza Pachulia-esque role of taking up space on the defensive end and Adreian Payne will play because at some point Parker, Giles and Hill will need some rest throughout the course of an 82 game season.
According to Basketball-Reference.com the All-Injury team’s combined win shares (estimate of number of wins contributed by a player) from the previous season comes out to 35.9 wins. This is without Giles’s number as he is a rookie and has no previous win share data. This seems fair since as we’ve mentioned there are glaring holes defensively especially on the interior. But say Giles has even an average year by win share standards and suddenly the All-Injury team is looking at 38-40 wins, right in the hunt for the 7th or 8th playoff seed in either conference. Yes the All-Injury team is playoff bound! Are they destined for a first-round exit? Absolutely yes … but not before sneaking in at least one win.