The season-ending injury bug that bit Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Lin, and Patrick Beverley, among others have hit the NBA again.
DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Roberson, and Mike Conley were the latest casualties to the worst part of sports and professional basketball. The New Orleans center tore his Achilles against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, while the Oklahoma City Thunder defensive specialist ruptured his patellar tendon vs the Detroit Pistons the day after. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies superstar guard, who has been inactive since mid-November 2017, is done for the year due to a heel issue which will require surgery.
Unlike the first batch, though, this newest group of fallen players has far more dire consequences on their respective teams' campaigns. Not that we're making light of Hayward, Lin, and Beverley's situations, but the loss of Cousins, Roberson, and Conley couldn't have come at a worse time.
At least something good will come out of the Grizzlies starting point guard's absence.
If David Fizdale's firing and having the fourth-worst record in the West (17-31) aren't obvious signs pointing to a proper rebuild (not a reboot), this unfortunate setback should be enough for Memphis to blow it all up. No offense to Tyreke Evans and the season he's having, but you can't expect to compete with him as your best player on most nights. Just don't shut down Marc Gasol—from someone who owns him in Fantasy.
Conley is the biggest loser here, as questions about his health will define the rest of his career; After signing one of the most massive contracts in league history (five-year, $153-million), he has only suited up for no more than 70 games in each of his last four seasons.
Just when the Thunder (30-20) started to get rolling (eight-game winning streak), the fifth seed in the West loses its primary defender.
Roberson will be sorely missed in that area, where OKC goes from having the NBA-best defense (96.4) to a mid-tier rating (108.3, 14th) without him on the court. Those who are lobbying for shooter Alex Abrines and rookie Terrance Ferguson to replace the All-Defensive Second Team member in the starting lineup because of his offensive limitations will appreciate his true value.
Either Oklahoma City gets busy before the trade deadline to fill the void left by their elite wing stopper, or Paul George proves his spot in the All-Star Game and takes on greater defensive responsibility.
Seeing Cousins go down during one of the all-time most dominant personal runs (25.2 ppg 12.9 rpg 5.4 apg 1.6 spg 1.6 bpg 2.2 3pg in 48 games) was as painful as it was heartbreaking to watch.
The Pelicans (27-22, 6th in the Western Conference) might as well say goodbye to its playoff hopes, unless Omer Asik and Rajon Rondo return to their 2012-13 selves. Boogie's murky future sets off a chain reaction that will largely impact his superstar partner Anthony Davis, who finds himself in the all-too-familiar territory of carrying a shallow New Orleans roster. The Brow is now in a dilemma if he should stay with his maiden team or go, just like how other front offices will view Cousins as a free agent this offseason.
Even if the Pelicans get the four-time All-Star back, who knows what kind of a player will he be from an injury that is considered career-debilitating.