Top 10 most injury prone NBA players
1. Marcus Camby
Camby has never played more than 72 games in any season, and that was his flukey year of 2003-04. Outside of that, his season game totals look more like Kobe Bryantís nightly scoring totals than anything else. Here they are in order, starting with 1996-97 and ending with this current, unfinished season: 63, 63, 46, 59, 63, 29, 29, 72, 66, 49. Camby has the reputation of being injury prone, is injury prone, and owners who draft him should never be allowed to complain about him missing games for them. That said, when heís healthy and playing well, heís as good a fantasy player as there is. Heís a much safer pick in daily transaction leagues than he is in weeklies, as you can get him outta there in a momentís notice before he inflicts too much damage on your team.
2. Jamaal Tinsley
What!? Baron Davis isnít second on this list? It was a tough call here, but I went with Tinsley because I believe he burns his owners a little worse than Diddy does. Tinsleyís injuries are usually sneaky and mysterious, and you can think everything is fine, setting your team on cruise control and then Boom! You have him in your lineup for four games in a week, but heís not going to play in any of them with a toe, shoulder, elbow, knee, sinus, whatever problem. Hereís the list over the past three years: 52, 40, 38. Thereís no rhyme or reason to his injury history and you seriously never know when heíll go down again. He truly fits the definition of injury prone. Iíll probably get no argument from his owners here, but may get one from the owners of Davis.
3. Baron Davis
Unlike with Tinsley, Davis owners know what theyíre getting. A stud that canít shoot free throws and who will go down with a serious injury at some point in the season. This year I really thought he had a shot at making it through most of the season, and he tried his best. But weíve likely seen the last of him this season, as he hasnít played due to an ankle injury since the middle of March. He missed seven games, came back too early, and then shut it down (probably for the rest of the year) a couple weeks ago. He had a hamstring injury early in the year, but was somehow able to play through it the first half of the year. Here are the games played, year-by-year, starting in 1999-00: 82, 82, 82 (man, things were off to such a great start!), 50, 67, 46, 54. You add in the fact that his shooting is usually below 40% and his 3-point percentage was just 31.5% this year, and you wonít see the same owner taking Davis a second time. Fool me onceÖ
4. Larry Hughes
You could make the argument that Larry Hughes should be No. 1 on this list, and youíll see why when you read his season totals. He missed most of this year with a finger injury, and it remains to be seen what ailment will keep him out next year. Past injuries have included everything from fingers, thumbs, elbows, wrists, ankles, knees and a few Iím forgetting. He just doesnít hurt himself either, but usually breaks things. His finger injury this year cost him most of the season, a broken thumb got him last year and before that it was a broken wrist. If you choose to draft or trade for Hughes, youíre asking for trouble. Here are the numbers: 50, 50, 32, 82, 50, 73, 67, 16, 61, 28. Yuck.
5. Jermaine OíNeal
Whether itís a back, a knee, a foot, a groin or a shoulder, OíNealís owners havenít slept very well over the past couple years. His games-missed numbers early in his career werenít to disturbing, but then again, he didnít really start playing real minutes until he got to the Pacers in 2000. Here are the games since then: 81, 72, 77, 78, 44, 41. He served a 10-game suspension last season for the brawl, but it seems appropriate to use the word ďchronicĒ in association with his shoulder, knee and foot problems, and we may be able to add his groin to that list after this season. Looky there, I used the word chronic in an NBA column and it had nothing to do with smoking weed. OíNeal is still just 27 years old, but it seems like heís much older with his list of ailments.
6. Corey Maggette
Maggette is a tricky guy to put on this list. Most people donít look at him and think heís an injury risk, or at least they didnít until this year. But when looking at the numbers, he always misses several games with minor ankle problems among other things. Of course, a pretty serious foot injury shut him down for most of this season, but letís take a look at the numbers: 77, 69, 63, 64, 73, 66, 28. This year is going to make it five of the last six years that heís played 69 games or less, and he missed nine games in 2003-04 for his best injury season since his rookie year. Maggette is a stud when he plays, but the numbers indicate that his injury risk probably levels out his value. Let someone else deal with it next year.
7. Kenyon Martin
K-Martís knee problem doesnít appear to be going away, and itís possible that it could actually cut his career short. Then again, he could bounce back next year and play a full season. Either way, heís a risky pick, and while his games-missed numbers arenít as shocking as some of the other guys on this list, heís an easy target right now: 68, 73, 77, 65, 70, 53. Heís likely to fall in fantasy drafts next year, and could be a nice sleeper pick in the middle rounds, but thatís not why the Nuggets paid him all that money.
8. Gerald Wallace
Man, if you own Gerald Wallace, you probably love him or hate him. If youíre like my reader Tim R., you are pretty irate at Wallace right now. Tim, like many other Wallace owners, struggled to play Wallace at the right times this year. I own him as well, and Iíve had mixed results, but I usually just keep him in my lineup and pray that heíll make it through the week. If you had him in your lineup when he was on this year, you were rewarded with monster games, and great numbers in the steals, blocks, scoring and rebounding categories. But based on when his injuries seemed to fall, thereís a good chance you had him on your bench for most of his big games, which is extremely frustrating, and part of the breaks when you play fantasy hoops. Itís similar to playing the ďgames playedĒ game each week, where you might gamble on a mediocre player who has a lot of games. Half the time, you get burned doing this, while the other half, you look like a genius. Here are Wallaceís games-played numbers: 54, 47, 37, 70, 49. If he ever puts a full season together, look out. Just keep in mind, they donít call him ďCrashĒ for nothing. He puts his body on the line every night with his borderline out-of-control style, and the injuries are almost sure to follow. However, when he plays, heís a top 15 player in the league. Heíll likely go in the second or third round of drafts next year, but thereís a ton of risk involved with taking him that high.
9. Kobe Bryant
It seems like Kobe has struggled with one or two ankle injuries each season, but has come through the current year in pretty good shape. Here are his numbers: 71, 79, 50, 66, 68, 80, 82, 65, 66, 73. Heís on pace to play in 80 games this year, and while heís just as likely to play 65 games as he is to play 80 each year, heís certainly worth the risk. Just ask an owner who had him in their lineup for the 81-point game this year.
10. Tracy McGrady
T-Mac is done for the year with a back injury, and it has to be a concern going forward when draft day rolls around. Here are the numbers: 64, 49, 79, 77, 76, 75, 67, 78, 47. Itís tough to call a guy with these numbers injury prone, but based on his bad back, I think he qualifies at this point, especially given the fact heís a first-round pick in fantasy leagues. Had he not gone down with the back injury this year, he would not be anywhere near this list, but I feel justified by including him based on the nature of his injury.
As part of management's, I wonder how much of a factor injury history comes into play? We're the only team on that list not only with two players on it, but two players their franchise is being built around. I thought it was an interesting take on things.