Tag: Injury

Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor

Update: Eric Maynor out for season with knee injury


UPDATE 5:26 pm: The Thunder have announced that Eric Maynor is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate that will require surgery. After watching the video below, that should not seem like a huge shock. It was nasty.

This is a blow to the Thunder. Sure, Russell Westbrook is young and can play a few more minutes a night at the PG, but even he eventually will wear down. The Thunder made a big push in the draft to get Reggie Jackson out of Boston College — they made an early promise and he stopped working out for other teams — and now he is going to be put to the test. He’s played 14 minutes all season, but they are going to need him to step up and be solid every night now.

12:30 pm: The Thunder are one of the best teams in the West for a reason. It’s not just their superstar power with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, or their supporting players like James Harden and Kendrick Perkins. It’s their depth, which is considerable. And that took  a hit last night when Eric Maynor went down with what looked like a serious knee injury.

Maynor was a steal for OKC when they traded for him from the Jazz last year, and had a huge impact in the playoffs. No details on his injury are available yet, but if he misses time, the Thunder should be alright because Russell Westbrook can just play like 800 minutes a week and not be bothered. Such is the gift of youth. But they’ll miss Maynor’s balance however long he’s out. We’ll keep you updated.

Beasley out three games with foot sprain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics

The AP reports that Michael Beasley will miss three games with a foot sprain he sustained in Minnesota’s Friday night loss to the Cavaliers. Presumably, Derrick Williams will start in his place.

Beasley has taken a huge step backwards this season after a promising 2011 campaign. He’s shooting just 39 percent from the field and 44 percent from the line, with a PER of 7. That’s right. Seven. So maybe some time off will do some good. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have excelled when their offense has moved away from Beasley. Williams in particular has shown great confidence in perimeter scoring and drawing fouls, and has a better chemistry with Ricky Rubio. Williams is also a more willing passer which is important in Adelman’s system and with the new weapons they have at their disposal.

You have to wonder if this could provide an opportunity for Williams to cement himself in the starting role, which could result in a trade for Beasley eventually. The Wolves have an easier schedule while Beasley’s out, facing Washington and Toronto, before an inevitable thumping at the hands of Chicago.

The Imperative: Kobe Bryant and the variance of injury

Los Angeles Lakers' Bryant chews on his jersey during NBA game in Los Angeles

The imperative is an element of urgency based off of observation with some evidence to back it up. But like most anything in the NBA, the imperative is rarely black and white, cut and dried. Basically I’m hedging in case Bryant averages 35 points per game over the next seven games. 

Kobe Bryant scored 39 points on 28 shots Friday night, with 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 41 minutes. He had the entire arsenal going. Jab-step three. Spin to the elbow pull-up jumper. It was as impressive a display of basketball playing as you will see in your lifetime and he did it on the second night of a back-to-back against a much-improved Warriors team.

And it was the worst thing that could have happened to Bryant and Lakers fans.

Last year, there were signs. Games where he would shoot a high volume and the efficiency wasn’t just off, it was bad. It wasn’t because the offense wasn’t working or because he defense was stout. It was very clearly about proving a point. Every player has bad games. Bryant’s had some in his long and brilliant career. But last season was the first time when you could really point to decisions Bryant made in the flow of the offense and say “That cost the Lakers.” Bryant would rise up from 35 to 40 feet for pull-up threes with time on the clock because “he was feeling it” regardless of how his night was going. There’s no way to say that his teammates were in need of a shot like that, that the team needed a boost and that was the way to do it, that that’s the kind of shot that gets him going (it’s not, his one-spin elbow pull-up does that like nothing else; he hits that and you can see the blood flowing through his skin). It was just a mistake.

But it wasn’t just shooting. I started noticing an odd element. Half-court traps started working on Bryant when he would allow them to snare him, which was more often than you’d think. At the time, I believed it had to do with his finger injury, and it doesn’t seem to be a product of age. But the result is the same. It’s carried over.

This year, consider the following.

Bryant is averaging 23 FGA per game. That’s going to fluctuate, but given the kind of role he’s tried to take with the Lakers this season and with Lamar Odom gone, it’s a decent barometer. After last night’s game against the Warriors, the Lakers are 2-4 when he shoots 23 times or more. They are undefeated (3-0) when he shoots less, but that point isn’t really salient; if Kobe’s not involved in the offense, the Lakers will start losing all the same. Also consider that after last night, Bryant has been tied or lead the game in turnovers for either team in five of the Lakers’ nine games. Now, some of that’s expected when he handles the ball as much as he does, his usage rate is ridiculously high as he handles the load for the Lakers’ offense. His turnover ratio is right at the league average. But the cumulative effect is damaging for the Lakers who don’t have possessions to spare.

So what’s the point of all this? Is Kobe Bryant over the hill? Is his effectiveness over? Is he selfish ball-hog that needs to stop hogging the ball and being selfish with his selfish ball-hogging?

Don’t be ridiculous.

He dropped 39 points last night!

But Bryant needs to rein it in. Not because of the damage he’s causing the Lakers’ efforts to win, but because that wrist needs to heal.

It’s clearly bothering him. There have been jokes about Bryant holding it when he gets dunked on, has the ball stolen, or misses. But he has a torn ligament in his wrist. I’ve never torn a ligament in my wrist. But I know enough of medical science to know THAT HURTS REALLY REALLY BADLY. And when the diagnosis was released, everyone said the same thing “If he’s not going to have surgery, he’s got to get it some rest.” Bryant could still play basketball while not putting unnecessary strain on it. But he’s not. He’s shooting more. Let me restate that.

With an injured wrist that is clearly affecting his shot and ability to handle the ball, Kobe Bryant is shooting more.

It’s his body, he gets to do what he wants with it, and Lord knows his rings give him a certain amount of leeway in decision making. But the results have spoken for themselves. Despite Friday night’s barrage, he’s struggled, and the team struggled with them. What’s worse is that this approach to Bryant’s game actually works counter to what the Lakers want to do.

With this assembly of players, guys like Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy, Matt Barnes, you don’t want to try and overwhelm the opponent with talent. You want to play smart, crafty offense designed to confuse and get the opponent rotating to create open looks. When the Lakers have played their best, this is what they’ve done. Bryant can shoot 20 times in the flow of an offense off catch-and-shoot and high post opportunities without going to the dribble ISO.

According to Synergy Sports, Bryant scored 1.02 points per possession in ISO last season, in the 91st percentile of the entire league. He turned the ball over in ISO just 8.3% of the time. In short, he was Kobe freaking Bryant one-on-one.

This year? He’s scoring .763 points per possession in ISO and turning it over 11.3 percent of the time. And that’s accounting for 35% of all his possessions. That’s a huge number.

Is Bryant going to get better as the wrist heals? Yes. But that process is exacerbated with every shot he takes, with every foul he gets on the wrist off jumpers and layups, with the more strain he puts on it. Bryant won’t sit, he can’t sit, it’s not in his DNA. And there are going to be plenty of games like Friday night for the second best shooting guard in NBA history.

But for the Lakers to be the best they’re going to be, Bryant needs to look his game and his wrist in the mirror and understand that he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. There are so many ways he can be great, and no one will take his adapting his game to an injury and a new offense as he gets older as anything but another sign of his basketball cerebral greatness. Kobe’s trying to be Kobe, but he’s not Kobe the scoring shooting guard right now. He just needs to be Kobe Bryant, one of the best basketball players in the NBA.

Blazers were aware of Roy’s knee issues when they signed him to a max contract

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four

Former GM Kevin Pritchard went on John Canzano’s radio show in Portland to talk about his time and experience with the Blazers before he was (randomly) fired, and his thoughts on the league going forward. During the interview, Pritchard left an interesting bit of information out there regarding the decision to grant Brandon Roy his max contract in 2009.

Pritchard told listeners that the Blazers were aware of Roy’s knee issues (read: meniscus=over, long-term implications= very yes) prior to the signing and elected to grant Roy the extension anyway.

The decision seems curious at this point, because Roy has missed so much time and had surgery on his knees now, and there have been questions about whether Roy will still be able to play even five years down the line. But if we back up to 2009, it seems less crazy. Roy had just come off his best season in 2008-2009, and looked every bit the franchise star.

Pritchard said part of the decision to re-sign Roy was based off of his free-agent eligibility the following year. If Roy had stayed healthy in 09-10, he would have garnered a longer-term contract for the max, so in reality, the Blazers were getting a deal there. Second, Pritchard revealed that the portion of Roy’s contract that isn’t guaranteed was used to purchase a secondary insurance option, which covers Roy in entirety. As such, that mitigates the financial impact of having to pay Roy that contract, though the money counts against the cap all the same.

There’s been talk that the Blazers were aware of Roy’s knee situation at the draft. They’ve simply always believed that Roy could overcome the problems. But as this year showed, Roy can overcome them for short stints, but eventually the reality sets back in that Roy will most likely never be the same player again. If the new CBA (whenever that happens) alters contracts or grants an amnesty clause, the Blazers may get out from under it. But calculated risk or not, the decision to give Roy that contract remains a vulture on their shoulder going forward.

Shaq comes back! Then gets hurt.

balance bracelets Shaquille O'Neal

Hey, so remember earlier when we told you Shaq might play Sunday night? Yeah, good news, he did play! Looked good to start out, too, making a layup and swatting away a layup. Things looked great.

You know how this ends, right?

Shaq came up limping against the Pistons in the first half, and did not return to the Celtics’ 101-90 win over Detroit. The Celtics are calling it a calf strain according to CSN New England. It is in the right leg, which had been bothering him with an Achilles problem, but was not related to the ankle. Despite looking terrible to begin with, and needing to be brought to the locker room in a wheelchair, the Celtics have once again dodged a bullet. Jermaine O’Neal on the other hand, played close to 18 minutes, finished with 6 rebounds, 5 points, and 3 turnovers. The rebounds are the important thing there.

So Nenad Krstic has a minor injury and is out a few games. Shaq has a minor injury and could be out a number of games, plus his usual cushion. In short, the Celtics will continue to walk the razor’s edge in terms of center depth until the playoffs start. Then all they have to do is muscle up, get healthy, get in rhythm, beat what will probably be either the Knicks (who are center soft as well) or Philadelphia (who are a bit trickier), close out the first round in time to get some time before facing what is likely Miami who will probably also thump their first round opponent, then close out Miami in reasonable time to face what will most likely be Chicago with Joakim Noah, Omer Asik, and Kurt Thomas down low, then beat what will almost certainly be the Lakers with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Peace of cake.