Some notable big men have had their share of bad luck with the injury bug, with a few having their careers at risk because of it. This season brings along hope for quite a few of those frontcourt players, while a couple remain huge question marks.
In the games that Varejao did play in, he averaged 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds (league best at the time) for the Cleveland Cavaliers, nearly doubling his career averages of 7.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Sadly, that only happened for 25 games before doctors noticed the blood clot in his left lung, shortly after knee surgery, that held him out for the rest of the season.
He hasn’t played a full season in his career and hasn’t played 82 games total in three years because of the blood clot, a broken wrist and a torn tendon in his ankle.
Whether or not the Cavs believe they’re a playoff team already is what decides how important Varejao is to this season. With a young frontcourt that includes Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson and first overall pick Anthony Bennett, they could learn a lot from someone like Varejao, especially on the defensive end.
He’s been cleared to play and has gone through the preseason games so far.
Bogut looks like he’s going to be the biggest X-factor for his respective team on this list. The Golden State Warriors noticeably improved by adding swingman Andre Iguodala this offseason and they appear to be legitimate title contenders now.
Bogut was only able to play in 32 games last season due to lingering ankle issues stemming from a surgery in January 2012. The frontcourt is already thin before taking Bogut into account, since Festus Ezeli will be out for a couple months at least to begin the season and Jermaine O’Neal has been facing back spasms recently (which don’t pose a long term problem but he’s no longer with the great Phoenix Suns staff).
Bogut’s claimed that he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to play and if he does that’s an easy double-double average he can put on a team that’s already stacked with scorers.
The second Cav on this list has an outlook that’s a little more grim. After he missed all of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers due to arthroscopic knee surgery, Bynum still hasn’t been cleared to play or even have contact.
It’s no doubt that Bynum can help turn a team like Cleveland around when he’s able to play. Before last season, he was an All-Star and All-NBA second team player who averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
If he and Varejao can get healthy, then that’s a scary front line that the Eastern Conference would have to deal with. If the goal of the team is to make a playoff push, then the rehabilitation process will have to go by quicker for Bynum.
An article by ESPN author Brian Windhorst put it best in perspective with his article: Greg Oden practices for the first time in four years.
The good part for Greg Oden on the Miami Heat is that the team is not depending on him at all to take them to the three-peat. However, if Oden can come back and show just an ounce of the potential that basically everybody saw in him when he was drafted in 2007, that will provide Miami with another excellent role player that the league will have to focus on.
While he’s not expected to play in the preseason, he has been participating in scrimmages to help get him back into playing shape. He’s another huge question mark, but one can’t help but root for him to revive his career already.