Official Top 10 Authoritative Power Rankings (of Injured Players), Weird 2012 Season Edition

So, where were we? I would like to say that the last four weeks of games have been strange, but that seems a really obvious understatement. It has been difficult to enjoy watching games played by teams (Knicks, Celtics) that only a scant time ago, I took immense pleasure in covering on a nightly basis. I know that I’m not the only one who feels disappointed by the rushed, lackluster summary of the season so far. I’m going to eye roll the Sixers in first place of the Atlantic division as long as I can, and depending on what lies ahead, an asterisk may stand by the name of the eventual champion (but mostly only if it’s Philadelphia or ugh, Atlanta).

It’s unmistakable that this is a transition season, an upheaval of seeing the future arrive simultaneously with the past not yet behind us. In all of that, nearly every team is reporting an injury in their rotation. Our heroes are hobbled or dressed in their Sunday best on the sidelines. As we’re all aware of from playing NBA 2K12 during the lockout, even as these players return, their replacements will demand more respect (which is why Darren Collison is a starting point guard). But whose losses mean the most?

10. Dwyane Wade (squiggly ankle)

Wade has played squiggly for the first month of the season, and the Heat have performed well without his services, besting every opponent without him. This unbeaten streak has got to be a bummer for dear Dwyane, ever the competitor, but I wouldn’t fret – with games against Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York (known for their guards) and Detroit this week, he should rest on his chaise lounge with a book of crosswords and fondly recall the times when his absence meant a 40-game losing streak for his beloved Heat. He can compete again when they need him to.

9. Brook Lopez (stress fracture, right foot)

Honestly, I sort of forgot about Brook Lopez before I started writing this thing, and then I realized that the second (maybe?) best player on the Nets has been absent all season. The aging Mehmet Okur has played suitably in his absence, but with the living ten-ten breathing down his neck, what the Nets really need to get to .300 is a scoring big man like Lopez. Maybe in mid or late February he’ll return, and after several well-performing games at full strength, we can all remember how Robin Lopez is totally the worst.

8. Eric Gordon (sore knee, weird taste in film)

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine decided to bring the girl he was casually seeing to watch the new Michael Fassbender art-house film Shame. Who does that? Who in the hell thinks that’s a good idea? Needless to say, they’re not seeing each other anymore. On a similar note, the Hornets have won one game since 2012 began (out of twelve), and Eric Gordon has played two games this season. At least the poor hobbled viewers of Shame got to see some sad naked people.

7. Chris Paul (sore hamstring)

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Randy Foye is starting for the Clippers again.

6. Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf)

Toronto has been awful this year, but as it’s been said repeatedly, that fault doesn’t necessarily go to Andrea Bargnani, who is having the best season of his career. It’s strange to watch the Raptors sans Bargs, mainly as their frontcourt had been built around his gaunt frame, and are now fronting two dudes who both do the same thing not very well. Dwane Casey’s return to head coaching had been a thing fabled by NBA diehards for many years, as his success as an assistant coach for the Mavericks led to perhaps unreasonable expectations, and his track record seems skewed without his best player being able to play. Home in Toronto, Bargnani recently discovered on an afternoon stroll that they sell cans of San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa at the corner bodega, and just bought out their assuredly short supply.

5. Rajon Rondo (driver of the oldest car)

I’ve been driving the same car for an inexplicably long time, like way more time than anybody should ever drive one car. It’s in fair-to-grimy condition, but at the number of miles it has on the engine, I wouldn’t expect much of a trade when I finally get rid of it in a couple months. The last major repair I put into it were some new brakes and struts, and they seemed to be worth it at the time, but now I’m like, “Why did I even bother?” Sitting in a suit on the sidelines as his team struggles to beat the lowly Wizards, I can’t imagine Rondo’s thoughts veer away from the same principle.

4. Baron Davis (back)

There’s no parable to give to the Knicks this year. If his new team were doing well, Baron wouldn’t be on this list. But as he’s now the only hope for the impossible-to-watch New York Knicks and their front office staff, whose obsession with Carmelo Anthony (and Iman Shumpert for some horrid reason) have led them down a path to ruin. And honestly, Knicks fans, you reap what you sow when you’re so anxious for success to happily discard a Hall-of-Fame journeyman like Chauncey (or like… your whole fucking team last season) that you’re unwilling to look at the risks involved when you duplicate player weaknesses across the board. If Baron’s now-shattered point guard abilities can lighten the tempo, get the ball out of Carmelo’s hands, and make this disgusting team slightly more enjoyable to watch, then big ups: you deserve the seventh seed after all.

3. Manu Ginobili (broken hand)

I haven’t seen Manu Ginobili since he got injured, but I hope that when he comes back, he has a long gray beard full of twigs. Unfortunately for Manu, he’s been stuck at home watching Rob! and Man Up (R.I.P.), because that’s how highly American television networks think of men who aren’t already watching sports. It’s shameful, really.

Sometimes when he walks around his backyard at night, away from his home filled with the canned laughter of generationally-awful TV comedies, he looks up at the star-filled heavens and wonders aloud in his native tongue, curious the perspective of his loved ones in the southern hemisphere.

“¿Puede que me veas llorar?” he asks, and looking down at the splint on his hand, he hears only silence in return.

2. Zach Randolph (weird MCL)

Maybe it was when news sources revealed he was implicated as a “major supplier of marijuana” did Randolph decide to finally turn over a new leaf. That was the last rude thing I read about the guy, which is great, and even if he’s getting weird somewhere in his injury sabbatical, who cares?

The only bothersome thing of Good Guy Randolph is that I haven’t been able to find that classic video of “Zach Randolph Point Guard” in at least two years. It’s remarkable what Randolph has accomplished in Memphis, not only the resurgence of his own career but a franchise, etc. Remember when Memphis was so decimated by his injury that they traded for Marreese Speights? That was pretty strange. Either way, the Grizzlies have won six straight.

1. Michael Beasley (dropped out of life with bong in hand to cattle ranch in southern France).

The outstretched arms of Kevin Love, summoning the sun god Ra to take us all away to a paradise of slavery and dry heat, might represent our worst fears. What is more perpetually annoying than a white man with swagger? It’s like wearing two LaCoste shirts on top of each other. It speaks highly of Rick Adelman that in his mid-60s, he can still invigorate a long suffering franchise with the addition of only an adept point guard and an oft-injured undersized shooting guard.

But Beasley is the darling who we all miss, our friend tangled in the complications of his own disappointing career. Where are you now, our Super Cool Beas? Are you crossing the Atlantic on a steamship, bound to explore the Pyrenees in spring? Michael Beasley is currently emulating Karl Malone in more than just watching tapes of him play: he is reading field guides in his vast home’s west library, figuring out the art of cattle ranching for a new home near Pico Posets. The Wolves have deemed him redundant, and being able to start over with some youth still ahead is a gift not many of us receive.

Honorable mentions for this fake list go to Derrick Rose, Al Horford, Kwame Brown, Kobe's cybernetic body, and like half the league.

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The Sweetness said...

Sleep reference? Best basketball blog I've ever seen.

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