There are countless injuries to star players in the West - Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and James Harden. Obviously, injuries to players of this caliber can devastate an NBA Franchise and its fan base, especially come playoff time. However, an injury early on during the season does not necessarily have to be devastating. When approaching the obstacle the right way, a team can use injuries as learning experiences and opportunities to develop players along the depth chart. Other than Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers, the three aforementioned names are all watching their teams blossom in their absence.
In Oklahoma City, Russell’s Westbrook’s injury initially caused major concerns for the franchise considering he suffered a season-ending injury just last season. Questions arose concerning his durability and his health come playoff time. Nevertheless, the Thunder didn’t shy away from this challenge. Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb stepped into the spotlight to become outstanding two-way role players. Durant now has a much more seasoned cast of players to help him defeat the West’s elite in April and May. Durant and the Thunder evidently used this as a learning experience and rose to uncharted territories.
In Los Angeles, Blake Griffin ensured the Clippers didn’t miss a beat as Chris Paul went down. Jamal Crawford stepped up as the second scorer, Deandre Jordan has become a defensive menace, and Griffin is playing with the confidence of an MVP-caliber player.
The Houston Rockets also seem to have forgotten that they don’t have their best player on the court. Without James Harden, the Rockets have a .750 record this season. Chandler Parsons and Terrance Jones, who was recently selected to the Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans, have gained more experience as dynamic role players on this team.
Every championship contender has to go through periods of adversity. Whether it be a star player going down for a part of the season or internal drama, the teams that shine during the playoffs are the ones that best overcome their obstacles during the regular season.