The Trail Blazers have been extraordinarily fortunate with regard to injuries this season. Superstars around the league are dropping like flies, but the Rip City roster remains more intact than nearly any other team’s. Imagine for a moment what this season would look like without LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, or any current starter for that matter. Are the Trail Blazers still 24-5? Are they still playoff contenders? A downed player on the Blazers’ tracks could derail their gravy train in a heartbeat.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Atlanta Hawks are the most recent victims of major health issues.
Russell Westbrook underwent scope surgery on his troublesome knee this morning and will be sidelined until after the all-star break. It was the third surgery on his right knee in 2013. The Thunder will have to rely on Kevin Durant more heavily than ever while Russell Westbrook recovers. They are 3 and 1 this season in games without their starting point guard.
Russell Westbrook underwent scope surgery on his knee today to address recent swelling. He’s expected back post All-Star break. More coming.
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) December 27, 2013
Al Horford suffered a completely torn left pectoral muscle during Atlanta’s double-overtime win in Cleveland on Thursday. He will likely miss the rest of the 2013-2014 season. The 16-13 Hawks are currently third in the East, but will struggle moving forward without their best player. Horford tore his left pectoral on January 11th 2012 and missed the rest of that season as well.
According to a team source, Al Horford suffered a complete tear of his right pectoral muscle. #ATLHawks
— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) December 27, 2013
Other major absences due to ongoing injury recovery in the NBA include:
- Brooklyn Nets – Brook Lopez (broken foot) out remainder of season
- Boston Celtics – Rajon Rondo (torn ACL) out indefinitely
- Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose (torn meniscus) out remainder of season
- Denver Nuggets – Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL) out indefinitely
- Denver Nuggets – JaVale McGee (fractured tibia) out indefinitely
- Los Angeles Clippers – J.J. Redick (torn ligaments) out indefinitely
- Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bryant (fractured patella) out 6+ weeks
- Los Angeles Lakers – Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) out indefinitely
- Los Angeles Lakers – Steve Blake (torn ligaments) out 6+ weeks
- Memphis Grizzlies – Marc Gasol (sprained MCL) out 3-6 weeks
- Orlando Magic – Nerlens Noel (torn ACL) out indefinitely
You may notice that I left CJ McCollum (and some other small-timers) off of this list. As a mid-first round rookie backup that has never played in the NBA regular season, his absence cannot be considered major, despite our high hopes for him. The Trail Blazers have not experienced a drastic negative impact from his broken foot.
How long can the Trail Blazers starters stay off of this list? There is nothing to indicate a major injury in their future, but major injuries often come without warning. Portland’s athletic training staff, led by Director of Player Health & Performance Dr. Christopher Stackpole, deserve our appreciation for helping the Trail Blazers get this far. They play an important role in maintaining team health and will play an even larger one should injuries occur.
The Trail Blazers’ uncharacteristically sterling injury record this year is a big reason for their uncharacteristically sterling overall record. So knock on wood, Blazer fans. We’ve been trained to expect the worst when we are at our best, but, with a little luck, Portland will escape the plague just this once.