Friday, January 14, 2005

Staying Healthy

The injury bug is making its way around the league. As we approach the halfway point of the season, many top names are starting to find themselves a little banged up. Those currently ailing include Kobe Bryant (Lamar Odom owners should be thrilled with this), Rashard Lewis, Zach Randolph, Chris Webber, Dwyane Wade, Mike Bibby and Jason Richardson. You can never know for sure who will be going down and when that will happen, but by simply looking at a player's past you can get a good feel. It should have come as no surprise to anyone when Baron Davis was injured for over a month earlier in the season. On the other hand, Andrei Kirilenko and Richard Jefferson had been perfect pictures of good health throughout their NBA careers. So there's certainly plenty of luck that comes into play, but at the same time certain players are more likely to stay healhtier than others, and these would be the players you might want to think of acquiring from here on out. What I've done is taken the top 50 or so players by ESPN's averages and assigned them a durability rating of 1 to 5, 5 being the most durable, 1 being the least. Next to each player's name is the number of total games they've missed due to injury (as best I could tell) in the 2002-2003, 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 seasons.

5: Most Durable
Garnett, Kevin
0
Ming, Yao
1
Marbury, Stephon
2
Miller, Andre
2
James, LeBron
3
Marion, Shawn
4
Francis, Steve
4
Walker, Antoine
4
Hinrich, Kirk
5
Gasol, Pau
7
Boozer, Carlos
8
Stojakovic, Peja
11
Gooden, Drew
13

As if you needed another reason to love the Big Ticket. Yao seems to be a perennial disappointment, but owners can't complain about his health. Stephon Marbury is always out there. LeBron looks to try and emulate MJ's indestructability (hopefully he can avoid the 2nd year injury). Steve Francis seems to be completely over his migraine problems from a few years ago. Gasol and Boozer are young players that have a knack for avoiding serious injuries.

4: Pretty Durable
Ilgauskas, Zydrunas
2
Nash, Steve
4
Lewis, Rashard
5
Pierce, Paul
5
Randolph, Zach
6
Nowitzki, Dirk
8
Richardson, Jason
11
O'Neal, Jermaine
12
Wallace, Ben
12
Billups, Chauncey
13
Duncan, Tim
14
Miller, Brad
19
Ginobili, Manu
19
Stoudemire, Amare
27
Arenas, Gilbert
28
Bibby, Mike
28
Allen, Ray
32
Brand, Elton
34
Odom, Lamar
35

Ilgauskas has a history, but he's missed only two games in the last three years. It's time to give him the benefit of the doubt. Rashard Lewis doesn't miss many games, but he played banged up quite a bit last year. J-Rich's injury doesn't seem to be getting better, but before this he rarely missed time. Arenas missed a lot of time last year, but it was when he kept trying to return early from the same injury. He looks healthy. Elton Brand has had some bad luck, but they've both been isolated incidents, not recurring problems.

3: There's Some Risk
Crawford, Jamal
13
McGrady, Tracy
24
Wade, Dwyane
24
Martin, Kenyon
24
O'Neal, Shaquille
31
Hughes, Larry
36
Richardson, Quentin
40
Maggette, Corey
40
Tinsley, Jamaal
43

Crawford probably deserves to be a 4, but it'd be nice to see him out on the court first. Tracy is banged up and doesn't have a reputation for playing through injuries. Wade is spectacular, but seems to always be ailing. Shaq has been good so far, but if the Heat keep up their pace, look for him to get some time off. The last four names on this list are all young guys who haven't been able to avoid injuries. Hughes and Q-Rich have had no problems this year, but be careful.

2: Dangerous
Abdur-Rahim, Shareef
10
Bryant, Kobe
17
Kirilenko, Andrei
30
Kidd, Jason
33
Iverson, Allen
36
Finley, Michael
38
Jaric, Marko
50

'Reef had always been a good bet to stay healthy, but he's missing the next month. With last night's injury, this is two years in a row with a serious injury for Kobe. That never happened to MJ. I hope AK47 can stay healthy when he comes back, but knee issues don't go away easily. AI's injury history is well-documented.

1: Playing With Fire
Camby, Marcus
69
Davis, Baron
70
Webber, Chris
77
Hill, Grant
124

No need to comment on these guys. You know what the deal is.

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