The NBA season has just gotten underway but there have already been a number of key injuries. Let’s look at some of the most significant ones to see how they’ve impacted the odds to win the NBA Championship early on in the season.
Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics
Obviously, this has been the most significant injury of the bunch. Hayward suffered a gruesome injury on opening night and is now down for the season. He was supposed to be one of the key foundational pieces on a Celtics team that could win the Eastern Conference. Now this team – surely – will take a step back without him.
The good news is the Celtics are loaded with young talent. Jayson Tatum, the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has looked fantastic in the early going. As has Jaylen Brown. If those two continue to rise, the Celtics still might challenge for an Eastern Conference title.
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets
A lot of people were interested to see how Chris Paul would fit in with the Houston Rockets. Remember, the Rockets went to the Western Conference finals last season. They were close already. Did the addition of Paul put them over the top or was he a piece that really didn’t move the needle?
Those wondering will have to will have to wait a little bit longer as Paul injured his knee on opening night and is out indefinitely. The thinking is that he’s out for just about a month but that has delayed our ability to handicap this team and determine what type of impact he’ll have.
Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers
Thomas isn’t a new injury but the Cavaliers are still without him. As we’ve seen in the early going, this could be a bigger problem than anyone is anticipating. One thing that’s gone overlooked is that the Cavs have a lot of new pieces this season and that’s changed their rotation. How does Dwyane Wade fit in? He started the season as a starter but now comes off the bench. And then there’s Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose and Thomas, when he gets back. And it still looks like Tristan Thompson’s confidence is shot, so the Cavs have to adjust in the front court too.
There are a lot of things this team has to figure out if they’re going to be a championship contender.
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns
Although Bledsoe isn’t injured, he could be the player that affects the NBA Championship futures the most. He has been sent home by the Phoenix Suns and won’t play with the team anymore. They’ll be looking to trade him as soon as the right deal comes along. This is a guy who averaged 21.1 points per game last season with 6.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds 1.6 threes and 1.4 steals. He could take one of those teams that’s on the fringe of being a contender and put them over the top. One team that makes sense is the Los Angeles Clippers, who are the last undefeated team in the league. Or possibly the San Antonio Spurs or Cleveland Cavaliers. There are lots of options, so keep an eye out for the Bledsoe news as a trade could impact the futures significantly.