Injuries to key players hurt the composition of a team in any sport, at any level of competition. The more vital the player is to the team’s success, the more devastating the injury. Injuries are always an unwelcome problem. However, in the National Basketball Association, the loss of a key component from a starting five can derail an entire season.
Of course, there’s a variety of factors that make one injury more serious than another. How much an injury affects a team’s ability to win games depends on the dynamics of the team.
When the Stars Don’t Come Out
Logically, the first thing you must consider when determining how much of an impact the injury will have, is who the player is. History has proven, if you yank a superstar from a lineup for any length of time, that team’s performance is going to suffer.
While it’s very rare, there have been a few situations where teams altered their on-court philosophy to compensate for the loss of a star. However, when an All-NBA caliber player goes down, it’s almost a guarantee the team’s fortunes will suffer.
Other Pieces of the Puzzle
In today’s NBA landscape, how many star level players a team has can also affect how much of an impact an injury has on their season. When a team is built around two or three superb talents, those left can step up their game. That was glaringly evident this year, as one NBA star took a fall.
The Golden State Warriors were already a formidable team without Kevin Durant. However, after allowing a couple key components of their team to walk so they could ink the Slim Reaper, when K Dog hit the IR, they went through a period of adjustment.
While other players historically pick up the pieces to try to fit the puzzle back together, injuries still impact team composition. How well a team handles a key injury is often directly proportional to these other pieces of the puzzle that they can plug into the equation.
Make Your Best Move
How teams deal with the impact of injuries is also predicated on what their prospects are for the current season. Teams that are deemed title contenders will address an injury far differently than teams who don’t even have playoff aspirations.
The Lakers have been hit with injuries to their youth, but without any true playoff aspirations, they’ve chosen to give playing time to their reserves. Certain situations dictate that when a key player gets injured, such as what happened to a couple Lakers like DeAngelo Russell, no move is the best move.
The impact of one player going down can send shockwaves across the whole league, as well. An injury to a player on one team may shift the mindset of other teams. Depending on the point in the season a big name injury occurs, it could open a window of opportunity for another team.
If a team feels replacing an injured key will keep them as a bonafide contender, they may dig into their bag of reserves to make a trade. Championship caliber teams may even mortgage the future to take advantage of the now. Timing is a critical factor that will determine if a team attempts to replace an injured player, but when it happens, the fortunes of a number of teams may be affected.
Injuries are always an unwelcome aspect of sports, especially when they happen to key players. The team feels the impact, but many injuries will affect the entire league, as well. While the impact of an injury may be subtle, some have changed the outcome of a whole season.