Another Sunday, another NBA Week in Review, and another wave of injuries. Why can’t we all just stay healthy?
Mamba Out, maybe forever. – What was already kind of a sad end to Kobe Bryant’s career became a little sadder this week when the star tore his right rotator cuff, and the Lakers announced that he would have surgery and miss the rest of this season. This year had already been a down year for Kobe, as he’s struggled with losing, with new teammates, and with his aging body. Coach Byron Scott has tried to rest him in recent weeks, but the heavy load of minutes earlier in the season seems to have taken its toll either way, and this tear is just the latest in a series of setbacks for Bryant in the last couple years. Obviously, at age 36 with only another year left on his deal, there’s been talk that Kobe could shut it down entirely and retire after this season. Knowing him, though, Kobe won’t want to go out on a note like this year, and he did sign a two-year deal for a reason. This probably (and hopefully) won’t be the last time we see Bryant on court.
Klay Thompson outscores everyone. – Whew, what a night for Klay Thompson on Friday: 37 points in one quarter when he went 13-13, and he scored 50 points in the game overall. The Warriors are back to destroying everyone since Andrew Bogut returned, and both Thompson and Steph Curry seem to keep improving along with this team. Golden State is already winning games at a near-record pace, and if Thompson keeps playing like this, don’t expect them to slow down. Who said Golden State was wrong for hanging on to this guy last summer? *shifts eyes, looks down*
And now, some bad news for the Post-Smith Pistons. – Ugh. After things had been coming up rosy-posey for Detroit during the last weeks, Brandon Jennings went down with a particularly bad-looking injury during the weekend. The Pistons fear something involving Jennings’ Achilles, an injury that would surely end his season and potentially disrupt his career, depending on the severity of the injury, which Jennings is now saying on Twitter will take 6-9 months to recover from.
This is very bad news for the Pistons and very disappointing for Jennings. The young, mercurial point guard had found a rhythm in the last few weeks and was playing some of the best basketball of his career under coach Stan Van Gundy. He was both shooting at a good clip and distributing smartly; he even recorded the first 20-point, 20-assist game since Steve Nash’s days in Phoenix last week. Hopefully, this injury isn’t as bad as people fear, and Jennings will be able to return to developing both his game and his swag.
LMA comes back from the dead. – In more injury news, LaMarcus Aldridge was expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his hand. However, the power forward elected to forego surgery and instead try to play out the rest of the season, considering the Blazers are in the top half of the Western Conference standings and badly require Aldridge to stay there. Portland won their first game with an injured LMA on Saturday night, and he still poured in 26 points. He did say afterward that it was a little tender, though, so it remains to be seen how the injury will affect him throughout their remaining games, not to mention the playoffs.
One thing is for sure, however: his commitment to the Blazers is real, as Aldridge is risking his impending free-agency this summer in order to help Portland now.
Steph surpasses LeBron in ASG voting. – James almost led the voting for the All-Star Game for the second year in a row, but he was stymied this time by Curry, who has never led the vote in his career before. Certainly no one is more deserving than Steph, however: he is perhaps the leading candidate for league MVP halfway through the season.
Bulls, Rose trying to steady themselves. – Under Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls have been consistently competitive; no matter who’s playing and who’s not, opponents could always expect a punch in the mouth on a pretty much a nightly basis.
That’s not been the case for this year’s team, which is trying to integrate many new faces and ease a former MVP who hasn’t player in a two years into the fold. They’re also missing the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, who happens to be the primary energy guy for this team as well. Considering such circumstances, and the schedule the Bulls have played so far, their ups-and-downs are more understandable, and when you see them put the beatdown on San Antonio like they did last week, it’s easy to remember what this team is like at full strength.
Now, with Rose slowly rounding into shape and Noah’s imminent return, Chicago is just hoping that they can stay healthy.
Shawn Marion plans to retire after this season. – One of the most unique players of this generation, Marion’s retirement probably won’t garner the attention it deserves. His positional versatility, however, was a precursor of things to come, and his contributions to Mike D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds Or Less teams in Phoenix will be the stuff of legend for basketball nerds in 20 years.
The saga of Larry Sanders continues its decline. – While John Henson continues to flourish in Sanders’ absence, the young forward remains in limbo for the Bucks, who seem unsure whether they’re ready to move on from Sanders and his massive contract as he serves another suspension for violating the league’s policies regarding drugs, specifically marijuana.
It’s a bummer of a situation for Sanders, who’s a tremendous talent but seemingly can’t get his mind properly focused on himself and his career. Here’s hoping that a second chance, whether it’s in Milwaukee or elsewhere, will bring about a new attitude for him.
Here come the Cavs? – Don’t look now, but LeBron’s Cavaliers are making a charge as well. Cleveland has won five games in a row, and members have the team have anonymously confessed to the media that the recent trades for Timofey Mozgov, JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert have both improved and reinvigorated everyone. Even David Blatt seems to have settled in, so hopefully the rest of this season will be as much fun as a halfcourt, Smith-to-James alley-oop.
Rising Stars Challenge becomes USA vs. World. – One last thing on the All-Star game: this year’s Rising Stars challenge, which used to be Rookies vs. Sophomores, will now be USA vs. the World, meaning guys like Andrew Wiggins and Rudy Gobert will be facing off with the likes of Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee. A small wrinkle, sure, but one that should make the game more competitive and give it an added layer of fun.
DUNK OF THE WEEK: Do I even have to say it? If you’ve been on NBA Internet this week, you’ve seen Kevin Durant showing Marcin Gortat a preview of what his tombstone is going to look like.