All-NBA ‘What If?’ Team: The superstar careers that disappeared after devastating injuries

Sports activities might be merciless. DeMarcus Cousins is aware of this higher than anybody.

Cousins has endured a brutal 18 months. After being traded from the Kings to the Pelicans throughout All-Star weekend two years in the past, Cousins appeared to have discovered a group worthy of his companies in New Orleans. With Anthony Davis by his aspect, the Pelicans discovered a method to create a contemporary model of the “Twin Towers.”

Nevertheless it wasn’t meant to be. A number of vital accidents have utterly derailed Cousins’ profession.

Jan. 26, 2018, torn Achilles: By means of 48 video games, Cousins averaged 25.2 factors and 12.9 rebounds alongside Davis. Then Cousins went down within the fourth quarter of a January recreation in opposition to the Rockets. It turned out to be a completely torn Achilles, an harm that ended his season and eradicated any probability of him receiving a max provide in free company.

April 15, 2019, torn quad: After signing a one-year cope with Golden State and lacking a very good chunk of the common season, Cousins returned to the ground hoping to be a contributor on a championship group. He reached the playoffs for the primary time in his profession, however Cousins took a spill whereas chasing a free ball throughout Recreation 2 of the Warriors’ first-round matchup in opposition to the Clippers.

After being identified with a torn quad, Cousins was compelled to take a seat out till the 2019 NBA Finals. Whereas he had some good spurts in opposition to the Raptors, the harm merely wouldn’t permit him to offer the Warriors the type of performances they’d have wanted to take down Toronto.

Aug. 12, 2019, torn ACL: Cousins elected to signal one other one-year deal, this time reuniting with Davis in Los Angeles. The Lakers have been thought of a real contender with a revamped roster, and Cousins was in place to contribute on Day 1 with a clear invoice of well being. Sadly, destiny as soon as once more intervened.

Cousins collapsed throughout an offseason exercise in Las Vegas with an obvious knee harm. The prognosis of a torn ACL will greater than probably power him to take a seat out your entire 2019-20 season.

His profession is not completed — he’s nonetheless simply 29 years previous — however that ACL harm places Cousins within the “What If?” group filled with NBA careers which were ruined by accidents.

We’ve provide you with our all-time injury-shortened NBA lineup. (Notice: The record covers the final 25 years and is restricted to gamers who flashed star potential over a number of seasons within the league.)

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G: Derrick Rose, Bulls

Rose’s athleticism was breathtaking. Return and watch him fly from baseline to baseline at breakneck pace. In his third season, he averaged 25.zero factors, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per recreation, profitable the 2010-11 MVP at simply 22 years previous. He appeared poised to hold the Bulls out of their post-Michael Jordan malaise and again to the NBA Finals.

Lower than a yr after that MVP marketing campaign, Rose suffered the primary of his soon-to-be frequent knee accidents. He would go on to overlook everything of the 2012-13 season as he rehabbed from a torn ACL. He would have a number of surgical procedures to restore his MCL to the purpose that it appeared like he was sporting pillows on his legs every time he performed.

The surgical procedures to his decrease physique took away his elite athleticism. By no means a very good exterior shooter, Rose struggled to regulate his recreation and bounced across the league. After eight years in Chicago, he went to New York, Cleveland and Minnesota earlier than signing with Detroit this offseason.

Final season was a feel-good story for Rose (nicely, in some methods). He averaged 18.zero factors and 4.three assists with the Timberwolves and was on the shortlist for Sixth Man of the 12 months. It’s nice to see Rose reinvent himself and keep related within the league, however simply think about the impression he would have made minus the knee points.

G: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Magic

Of all of the “What If?” gamers, Hardaway takes the cake. Not simply due to his potential, however due to the expertise surrounding him.

Hardaway made an instantaneous impression in his rookie season, averaging 16.zero factors, 6.6 assists, 5.Four rebounds and a couple of.three steals per recreation. He was runner-up to Chris Webber within the Rookie of the 12 months voting. Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal would go on to guide Orlando to its first NBA Finals look in 1995. It appeared that the Magic would run the Jap Convention for the following decade.

Then O’Neal was traded to the Lakers, and Hardaway suffered the primary of his many main accidents. Earlier than struggling a brutal left leg harm early within the 1997-98 season, Hardaway was on a Corridor of Fame monitor. A 3-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA First Staff choice, Hardaway was by no means the identical.

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He would go on to have a number of knee surgical procedures as he bounced across the league. Hardaway managed to stretch his profession out to 2007, taking part in with the Suns, Knicks and the Warmth, however he by no means obtained again to his All-NBA stage. He averaged solely 12.Four factors per recreation in Phoenix and fewer than 10 factors per recreation in New York. He lasted solely 16 video games in Miami.

F: Brandon Roy, Path Blazers

Popping out of the College of Washington, Roy took the league by storm in his rookie season, averaging 16.Eight factors, 4.Four rebounds, 4.zero assists and 1.2 steals per recreation. Roy received the 2006-07 Rookie of the 12 months award with almost each first-place vote.

Roy confirmed that he was no one-hit surprise with All-Star appearances within the subsequent three seasons.

Season PPG APG RPG
2007-08 (74 video games) 19.1 5.8 4.7
2008-09 (78 video games) 22.6 5.1 4.7
2009-10 (65 video games) 21.5 4.7 4.4

He was on tempo to turn out to be one of many biggest gamers in Path Blazers historical past earlier than a degenerative knee situation lower his taking part in profession brief.

There was nothing Roy may do. After six knee surgical procedures, the writing was on the wall — Roy needed to retire. It was a profession that burned brilliant however had a brief shelf-life.

F: Grant Hill, Pistons

Hill was a reliable celebrity. There’s no different method of placing it.

For the primary portion of his profession, Hill lived as much as the hype he had constructed up at Duke. He was the Co-Rookie of the 12 months in 1995 with Jason Kidd and averaged 21.5 factors, 7.9 rebounds and 6.three assists in his first six seasons. He was a seven-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA choice, incomes a spot within the Basketball Corridor of Fame in 2018.

At his greatest, Hill was one of the crucial versatile gamers within the recreation. With constant well being, there’s an opportunity that he would have been talked about among the many all-time greats.

A number of foot and ankle accidents robbed him of his prime. After being traded to Orlando in 2000, Hill performed in solely 47 video games in his first 4 seasons in a Magic uniform. Although he carved out a task for himself in Phoenix as a strong defender and spot-up shooter, we’ll all the time be left questioning what may have been.

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C: Yao Ming, Rockets

The 7-6, 300-pound behemoth from China was nicely forward of his time. His easy contact across the rim coupled along with his capability to step out and knock down midrange jumpers made him almost unguardable. Even O’Neal needed to admit how good he was.

“Yao’s a superb participant, considered one of a sort, 7-7 with glorious expertise,” O’Neal mentioned at his Corridor of Fame enshrinement. “No one blocked my shot. No one. And I performed in opposition to the perfect. The primary time I performed in opposition to Yao, he blocked it 3 times in a row. I needed to get indignant and begin dunking.

“However you’ll be able to’t cease Yao. You simply have to remain in entrance of him and hope he’ll miss. He’d get it, take a look at you and shoot it proper over you. He was in all probability my hardest matchup.”

Yao averaged 19.zero factors, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks throughout his NBA tenure. He landed on an All-NBA group 5 instances, however his body wouldn’t permit him to have a protracted NBA profession.

Again, knee and foot accidents plagued him starting in his third NBA season. His legacy goes past the court docket, although, and for that, the NBA is eternally grateful.

Sixth Man: Shaun Livingston, Clippers

A 6-7-point guard, the Clippers chosen Livingston out of highschool with the fourth general choose within the 2004 NBA Draft. His potential was off the charts — till he suffered one of the crucial grotesque accidents in NBA historical past.

At 21 years previous, Livingston tore his ACL, MCL and PCL in his third NBA season. Medical doctors instructed him that he would by no means play once more. There have been even fears about amputation.

Nicely, he did play once more, and what places Livingston on this record is what he did following the devastating harm.

Livingston discovered the right position in Golden State. He turned a three-time NBA champion by offering much-needed minutes off the bench, and his midrange jumper by no means disappeared. He has shot 50 p.c or higher from the sector in each season with the Warriors.

His time in Golden State proves that his potential popping out of highschool wasn’t overstated. Livingston was the true deal. One brutal harm modified the trajectory of his profession.

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