Dwight Howard Joined By Injured Bigs: Is There a Front Court Epidemic?
By Tamberlyn Richardson
Dwight Howard joined by a rash of front court players as front court epidemic appears to hit NBA:
A week ago we learned Dwight Howard would be out much longer than the anticipated week to ten days. Since then he underwent a bone marrow aspiration injection and reports were he’d be out for a month. Now news is surfacing those initial projections were optimistic as the center himself confirmed he’ll miss anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
In an interview Dwight Howard offered the following update:
- There is no structural damage to the knee
- Howard is riding the bike and running
- Houston expect Howard back prior to playoffs to shed the cobwebs and gear up for the post season
- Howard said he could feel the pain on most nights so the goal is to be pain free
- He further offered he that he wasn’t able to give what he is usually capable of on a night to night basis based on the injury
- The priority is rest and strengthening the knee
- Howard estimates he’ll be in better shape when he returns then he was to start the season based on the work outs he is currently doing
- Prior to under going the MRI Howard had approached coach Kevin McHale to request additional rest to heal
- Dwight says his role while out will be to help the bigs (specifically Joey Dorsey) with defense, to support James Harden leadership and to cheer loudly from the bench
Other notable insight came via coach Kevin McHale who said having Dwight out isn’t that big of an adjustment given he missed half of training camp and 5 weeks in November/December. McHale feels it will be a bigger team adjustment when Howard returns.
Howard had the procedure done last week on Wednesday February 4th which means a 6 week absence would find him returning March 18th and missing 16 games. Should he require the full 2 months to recover he would return April 1st and miss between 23 and 24 games.
Further, a return of March 18th would offer Howard and the Rockets 15 games to get their chemistry in place whereas an April 1st return would offer just 8 games to get in game shape and for the team to develop their rhythm heading into the post season.
For obvious reasons the Rockets and Howard are likely praying for a March 18th return.
Other NBA bigs join Howard on sidelines & Spencer Hawes features prominently in 2 of the injuries:
Last season it felt like there was a back court epidemic as guards were dropping like flies early in the 2013-14 schedule. Conversely this season it’s the centers and power forwards who are hitting the injured reserve list at a high rate:
Anthony Davis: The New Orleans Pelican and MVP candidate has grown exponentially this season so his awkward fall following a slam dunk had Pelican fans nervously holding their breaths. Davis is listed as day to day with a right shoulder injury and was already sporting athletic tape on his left shoulder. What made the incident topical was whether the fall simply occurred as he slipped off the basket rim or whether Chicago Bull guard: Tony Snell precipitated the fall by placing his hand on Davis’ back.
Blake Griffin: The Los Angeles Clipper power forward had surgery Monday to remove a staff infection he sustained after having his elbow drained on February 2nd due to an on-going issue with bursitis. Initial reports were that Griffin could miss up to 6 weeks, however the newest reports have him possibly returning in 3 weeks. Raptor Patrick Patterson was the recipient of not one but two elbows to the face courtesy of the Clipper forward in his last action Friday. Patterson is likely wondering how he always lucks into having to play him. Last year the Raptor big had his nose broken from another errant Griffin elbow. Begs the question if karma does indeed exist!
Steven Adams: To that end, it seems to be a common occurrence for players to be on the losing end of injuries courtesy of rough play from Clipper players as Oklahoma City Thunder center Adams found out the hard way. In the Thunder rout of the Clippers Sunday, Adams was fouled by Spencer Hawes who is replacing Griffin. The New Zealand center initially left the court, but returned to shoot the free throws using just his left hand and successfully hit one of the two. In a funny side note the fact Adams was able to swish the free throw using just one hand (his left at that) must have given Clipper big DeAndre Jordan food for thought as he remains one of the worst free throw shooters in the Association (40.8%). Adams had surgery Monday and is expected to miss a minimum of 3 weeks. Fortunately rookie center Mitch McGary just returned from his own foot injury and will fill in as the replacement until Adams returns.
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Joel Freeland: In another freak accident, Portland’s center Freeland was filling in for Robin Lopez (who was out with a broken hand) injured his shoulder attempting to block a Paul Millsap dunk. He is expected to remain out until mid February.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Portland have certainly had more than there fair share of front court injuries as Robin Lopez broke his hand, Joel Freeland injured his shoulder and All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge tore a ligament in his thumb. Unlike all the players listed Aldridge chose to play through the injury instead of under going surgery which would have seen him miss multiple weeks. Given the history of Portland injuries (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden) to star players this decision was a big deal to Blazer fans.
Kelly Olynyk: The Boston center badly injured his ankle January 22nd initially requiring crutches and a walking boot. Olynyk is expected to return shortly after the All-Star break.
Anderson Varejao: The Cavalier center tore his Achilles tendon and will be out for the season. When Varejao went down it was the catalyst to Cleveland expediting the signing of Timofey Mozgov.
Tyson Chandler: Early in the first quarter Monday the Maverick center twisted his ankle versus those pesky Clippers with Spencer Hawes once again serving as the culprit. Hawes fouled Chandler who landed awkwardly, twisting his left ankle. He is currently listed as day to day.
Jordan Hill: The Laker big man strained his hip flexor almost a week ago and is expected to remain out until after the All-Star break. Hill is the one Laker who coincidentally continues to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors. The Lakers are also without their rookie Julius Randle who broke his leg in his first game and is out for the season.
Josh McRoberts: The Miami Heat forward/center underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is out for the season. New comer Hassan Whiteside may never have seen the light of day had it not been for McRoberts injury so he has McBob to thank for his playing time.
Larry Sanders: While the Bucks’ center isn’t physically injured he remains out with what some might say is mental health reasons. Sanders is listed as out indefinitely.
Joel Embiid: The rookie center will miss the season following surgery to his foot. Like his team mate Nerlens Noel, Embiid will need to benefit from watching games on the sidelines this season and make his much anticipated return next season as a rookie.
Alex Len: Len, the Suns center twisted an ankle February 5th and is expected to remain out for Tuesday’s game remaining day to day on the injury list.
Pacer Big Men: Both Ian Mahimni (ankle) and Lavoy Allen (knee) are listed as day to day
While only a couple of the names on the list are of similar caliber to Dwight Howard that’s a pretty long list of power forward and centers. With the law of averages in effect makes me wonder if small forwards might want to take extra care conditioning this summer given it may be their turn to fall prey to the injury bug next season. One thing is for sure all players better beware of Spencer Hawes as he continues to make his presence felt by sending players to the injured reserve list.
For Houston Rocket fans the news Dwight Howard will definitely miss more than a month isn’t what they were hoping for, however if front court players keep getting injured at this escalating rate at least they can take solace in the fact their center is already on the mend.