The 2013 NBA Playoff All-Injury Team

The Miami Heat are coasting through the 2013 Playoffs and it’s not just a testament to how good they are. They’ve also been very lucky, with the best players from opposing teams having gotten hurt left and right. And considering that we’re at the tail end of the NBA awards season where players, coaches, and general managers have been awarded trophies for their achievement, it’s only fitting that we —in true awards season fashion— celebrate those who are not currently with us on the court.

Here are five players who have succumbed to the injury bug, hereby dubbed the 2013 All-Injury team.

PG – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

Injury: ACL Tear

The way in which Derrick Rose sustained his injury last year was crushing. Who can forget Rose nursing his injury on the court in the fetal position? Much has been made of the way Chicago has handled Rose’s return since he was cleared to play months ago, but would the Bulls have fared better this year against the Miami Heat in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs? It seems like a viable idea on paper. but you have to remember that chemistry plays a greater role in basketball than the average fan normally takes into consideration. Plus, the Bulls accomplished two things: they can succeed without Rose if the situation arises again and the franchise will receive a higher pick in this year’s draft to improve for the next few years.

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SG – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Injury: Right Meniscus Tea

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was subtle in comparison to Rose’s injury, though the outcome of his injury arguably shifted the course of this year’s Western Conference playoffs. With Westbrook out with a meniscus tear, Kevin Durant—as much as an offensive force that he is—could not overcome the defensive prowess of Marc Gasol and the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies. A playoff series with Westbrook would definitely have a different outcome but, unfortunately  this playoff series will be filled in one of the great what-ifs of basketball, especially because the team seems to be in its prime when healthy.

SF – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Injury: Torn Achilles Tendon

This season, it felt as if the Lakers had as many injuries as they have championship banners. There was never a point in the season where the team was healthy enough to put together any real success. Bryant, through all that, was still the vocal leader. There were stretches of games in which he single-handedly took over a game to get the W. After scrounging for one the last remaining playoff spots in the West, Kobe tore his Achilles’ tendon and wiped all hope of L.A. making a postseason run, as they were eventually swept by the San Antonio Spurs. A Kobe vs Spurs matchup (because that’s how it would have been advertised) would have been the greatest high-profile matchup in the first round. Here’s hoping that the Mamba overcomes this unfortunate injury

SF – Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers

Injury: Knee

The Indiana Pacers are still alive in the 2013 playoffs and will face off against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s amazing that this team, under the tutelage of head coach Frank Vogel, have gone this far without their star player, who they lost in March to a knee injury. But in fact, Granger was out for longer, having gone through surgery in the offseason for patellar tendinitis. He was only available for a few games the entire season, but his absence arguably opened the door for Paul George, who been the team’s de facto star ever since. Still, one has to wonder what the Pacers will do now. Will they attempt to utilize their young talent as much as possible or is Granger now on the outside looking in?

C – Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks

Injury: Knee

With the smorgasbord of wily, beat-up veterans on the Knicks roster, who would have guessed that Stoudemire, once a player worthy of a max-contract, would be the biggest question mark surrounding this Knicks team? This squad was surprisingly good this season after being down on their luck for the latter part of the last decade. Still, one can only wonder how good the team would have been with a healthy Amar’e in the rotation to accompany the even-older big men on the roster.

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