Shortened NBA Season Blamed For Player Injuries, Lower Scoring Across League
A month into this "condensed NBA regular season and it’s that very schedule, the non-stop blast of basketball, that’s ruining this regular season," according to Israel Gutierrez of the MIAMI HERALD. The result of the shortened season has been "numerous injuries to some of the game’s most entertaining players and sloppy, uninspired, downright boring games." Games that "keep coming even though some of these uglier contests make you want a break." Games that "keep coming so fast that there’s barely any time to let some intriguing storylines develop." Gutierrez writes it would have been "fun to watch the Bulls play five nights a week," but not when G Derrick Rose "is not in uniform." And it would have been "nice to watch the Mavericks truly attempt to defend their title rather than watch them scramble while Dirk Nowitzki sits out with knee/conditioning issues" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/24). USA TODAY's Zillgitt & Shuster noted with a 66-game season "packed into four months, some teams are taking a cautious approach with injuries so they don't turn into season-long issues for players." Zillgitt & Shuster speculated Heat G Dwyane Wade and Rose maybe "would have played if it were playoff time." But the Heat have "gone 6-1 without Wade, so there's no reason to get the All-Star back before he's ready." And Rose, who "said his toe might bother him all season, started Monday against the New Jersey Nets after missing four games" (USA TODAY, 1/22). WFAA-ABC's George Riba notes the compressed schedule has "created a league of tired players." Mavericks F Lamar Odom said, "Even being in shape, if you play three games in a row and after that, you have to play a back to back, you're susceptible to injury even if you are in shape." Coaches are "carefully watching the trend." Suns coach Alvin Gentry said, "Our scoring is down almost eleven points a game, and it's that way around the league. There are two teams in the NBA that are averaging 100 points. All the field goal percentages are down. So, the quality of play has suffered a little bit" (WFAA.com, 1/24).
NEXT IN LINE? ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Hawks C Al Horford has been named as a "likely down-the-road top contender to succeed the Lakers' Derek Fisher as president of the players' union." Fisher generally earned "strong reviews for his contributions to ultimately getting a deal done to save the season, which is why he'll presumably be asked by his peers to carry on as president in the short term." But when Fisher "has had enough ... word is that Horford will draw strong consideration as his successor" (ESPN.com, 1/20).