knicks injury report

knicks injury report

The Impact of Injuries on the New York Knicks

1. The Importance of a Healthy Roster

The Knicks are searching for something to fall back on. Many would assume that it is time for the Knicks to give up and maybe find an opportunity for a draft pick. However, both the recent history and future of the New York Knicks argue the potential benefits a mere improvement of health can have. Having briefly poked at the recent history, it is essential to recognize the dilemma of the past Knicks that were so close, yet so far from the goals they wish to achieve. The Knicks of 1997 and 1999 were essentially the best teams they had since the championship year of 1973. They were both 2 seeds in the playoffs and were most often a pick by analysts to win the championship, especially in 1997 when they went up 3-1 over the champion Chicago Bulls. In both cases the Knicks were dismantled by injuries in the next season and they were never heard from again. Wrong or indifferent, these years brought a lot of sadness to the avid Knicks fan. The future has an even more indisputable argument. This is a team with high hopes and heavily paid players. When it is all said and done, this simply just isn’t going to cut it. Measures must be taken in order to secure the investments in the future and that they bring a desired return.

Injury is the common thread in all bad Knicks times. The awful period of the early 1990s coincides with the injuries to Trent Tucker, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Oakley. The club played prompt recovery of the lockout shortened 1998-99 season, running off an improbable dash to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, more often than not, the previous sentence is the ending of a “could have been” Knicks season ruined by injuries. This current season is no different. Currently the New York Knicks are holding a 19-26 record and are looking for some form of comfort. With a myriad of injuries from Eddy Curry’s calf strain to Stephon Marbury’s shoulder.

2. Current Injury Report

The Knicks have had injuries to key players, which has limited the team’s success in producing wins. The most notable player that has been injured most of the season was Allan Houston, who missed 32 games trying to get a sore knee healthy. The knee injury kept Houston out for the first 20 games of the season, and then after coming back, showed to not be better, and it was decided that surgery would be the best solution. The recovery time for the surgery meant Allan would miss the rest of the season, including playoffs. The loss of Houston, who is the team’s leading scorer, has been substantial, and it has been hard for the team to cope with his absence. The Knicks were 14-18 when Houston played this season and 14-19 when he did not play. During Houston’s absence, Don Chaney shuffled various starting players, including Howard Eisley, Dikembe Mutombo, and Shandon Anderson, in an effort to find more consistency. Losing its most potent scorer, New York was forced to rely more on its defense, a strategy that has been only moderately successful to this point.

3. Key Players Affected

Crawford’s case was a similar one, as he suffered various ailments to both ankles and ended up missing 20 games. This was an unfortunate turn of events for Crawford, who was arguably the Knicks’ steadiest and most productive player all season. His high-energy play, scoring, and clutch shots were sorely missed down the final stretch of the season. This has raised some questions as to whether Crawford will opt out of his deal and test the free agent market, in search of a more stable playing situation.

Perhaps the most damaging injuries came to Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford. Marbury suffered through multiple cases of ankle and shoulder sprains and missed a total of 17 games. This is the first time in Marbury’s career where injury significantly affected his play. The lack of explosiveness and mobility hindered his ability to get to the hoop and finish as effectively as he would have liked. Marbury conceded to sitting out the last 7 games of the season to rest and rehab, instead of gutting it out and risking permanent damage.

Another big blow came in early December when the Knicks lost Quentin Richardson for an 8-game stretch due to a wrist injury. Looking at the record, the Knicks were 12-17 in the games that Richardson played in, so while his injury does not look incredibly damaging, the Knicks have made it clear that Q is a critical part of their future.

Key players affected When healthy, the Knicks were clearly a playoff caliber team this season; however, injuries to several key players all but ended any postseason aspirations. The most glaring injury came at the end of November when Eddy Curry suffered a torn plantar fascia. While Curry was just starting to come into his own, averaging 20.2 PPG and 7.9 RPG in the month of November, he would miss the next 13 games and was never able to regain the explosiveness and dominance that he displayed prior to the injury.

4. Consequences for the Team’s Performance

With a few exceptions, our research of New York Knicks’ injury history found negative consequences of injuries to the team’s performance. The 1981-1982 season began with a 3-24 record when the team was healthy. Subsequently, two starters were injured for the rest of the season, and the team finished with the second worst record in the league. The best recent example of the impact of injuries on the Knicks was the 2000-2001 season. This season began with a championship in mind, as management felt the team finally had the necessary talent to compete with the Lakers and other elite teams in the league. However, an injury to Luc Longley’s knee before the season even began set up a chain of events that caused chemistry to never develop, and the team tumbled to an 11-27 start which was the final trigger in management’s decision to release Jeff Van Gundy from the head coaching position. Longley’s injury and its effects on the team’s season are a classic example of recent Knicks history in that injury problems before and during the season led to high expectations not being fulfilled. Another specific result of the injuries during the 2000-2001 season and in seasons since then has been the dressing of only 9 or 10 players for games. This was due to a high number of players being injured. An NBA season is long and grueling, and the ability to rotate players to keep them fresh is very important. It also is helpful to have practice players playing on scout teams with and against starters, mimicking upcoming opponents, so as to better prepare the team for the next game. All of these things are compromised when a team has about 12 healthy players. Over the last several years, there were numerous cases where the Knicks had to sign D-League or street free agents to meet the 12 player requirement. This was embarrassing for the proud Knicks organization as well as an undermining of the coaching staff’s ability to prepare the team for games.

5. Strategies to Minimize Injuries and Maximize Success

Strategies to reduce injuries that occur in the game of professional basketball focus on crafting playing schedules and the use of properly designed equipment. Specific tactics to prevent the high ankle sprain and stress fracture, recurring injury types in the NBA, come in the form of rehabilitation and readiness programs. These programs attempt to strengthen the affected area and alleviate any lingering pain or side effects. The idea is to prevent recurrence of the injury by minimizing its severity when it does occur. These programs are utilized to some extent by all NBA teams, but more often by veterans with a history of a particular injury and by the league’s older players. In the case of the New York Knicks, we propose the aforementioned strategies as well as the addition of reducing the minutes played by the starting players, weary from back-to-back games, in an effort to keep them healthy and fresh for a playoff run. Combined, these strategies aim to ensure the Knicks attain maximum player availability throughout the season and ultimately the playoffs. Although the development of thorough preventative measures can help reduce the occurrence of common injuries, the flip side is that a basketball game is inherently a random series of explosive movements, often with sharp cutting and direction changes, predisposing players to sudden injury despite the best preparation. In order to counteract the loss of players to injury, it is important to have a system in place to replace an injured player and maintain team performance.

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