It is fair to make the statement that every year in the NBA the occurrence of injuries among each team can be viewed as a commonality.
For the past two seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers that can regarded as an understatement as the team has dealt major injuries throughout the roster.
This season Kobe Bryant (knee, Achilles), Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Pau Gasol (respiratory issues) Jordan Farmar (hamstring), Chris Kaman (back, ankle) are all either out with injuries, have recently returned or playing through the injury.
Los Angeles has not has been a injury-riddle team this entire season as exemplified by team being without all three of their point guards in Nash, Blake, and Farmar due their injuries occurring around the same time of each other.
The health issues that the Lakers are dealing with over an extended period of time can take it’s toll on a team regardless if they have a deep roster because it forces players into positions that they might not necessary be capable of playing in.
Take for example the point guard situation that was pointed out earlier this article with all three point guards out it forced head coach Mike D’Antoni to start Bryant, who had just returned from his torn Achilles, at point guard because the team lacked any ideal ball handlers.
And once Bryant went down with another injury it once again forced D’Antoni’s hand as he had to resort to playing Xavier Henry, who had not played point guard since his high school days, to fill in at the position in the starting lineup.
The injury bug has been a hindrance to the Lakers, as they have not been able to play their key players in Gasol, Nash, and Bryant together at any point this season. The health problems with each player may be accredited to fact that they are all older players who have a lot of professional basketball mileage that has taken it’s toll on their bodies.
Nash this season has only been able to play in six games as he has still been dealing with the lingering affects of his broken left leg that he suffered last season that caused nerve damage in his left hamstring and now to his lower back. The fact remains that Nash is 39 years old and his body has not responding the way it normally did in his Phoenix Suns’ days.
As for his return date, the Lakers stated, along with Bryant’s timetable for expected recovery, that he would be out for at least a month. With that said, the type of injury that Nash is dealing with there is no guarantee that will be able to return to the court in that time frame as his injury has worsen and it could possibly force him to retire.
Bryant, who is expected to be out at least another month with the injury to his left knee, has also only played in six games this season due to his torn Achilles and now the fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. It has been a difficult stretch for Bryant as his latest injury is another setback for the 15-time All-Star as he was working his way back in form from his torn Achilles.
Gasol this season has played through various injuries including a strained muscle in his left foot, sprained right ankle, and now is dealing with a reoccurring respiratory infection that has forced him a handful of games. As expected his level of performance on the court has been affected as he is averaging a career-low in field goal percentage at .446, and his second lowest points per game average at 14.7.
And finally, Blake is also out at least another month with torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow that he suffered two weeks ago. In Nash’s place as the team’s starting point guard, Blake was performing quit well as he is averaging 9.8 points and 7.7 assists this season. In the last 13 games prior to the injury, he had recorded double digit assists totals in nine games that included four straight contests with a season-high 16 assists in the team’s 114-109 win over the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 17.
What this all comes down to for Los Angeles this season, just like last year, is that they have had the unfortunate luck of injury bug hitting their team. It is something that can ultimately happen to any team or player in the league. But it cannot just be pointed at having bad luck with injuries as the sole reason for their occurrence as the Lakers have an aging core group of players Bryant, Gasol, and Nash who are in their mid to late thirties.
Yes, injuries have affected the Lakers ability to maintain any consistent success and has made it difficult for the team to put a lineup on the floor that features their best players. But Los Angeles, just like any other team, will have to continue to work through the injuries and hope that Bryant, Nash and Gasol can return soon and remain healthy.
It is ultimately not in their hands as injuries can happen at moment. All the can do is continue to play hard and to the best of their abilities. If the team can ride the ship until Bryant and Nash return, it is possible that they can make a run at a playoff. But for the time being their focus should remain on winning the next game and things will fall in place.
Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Garcia IV
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