By Gordon Robinson
1. Kobe Bryant – Kobe’s body is breaking down. A torn rotator cuff has put him on the sideline for probably the rest of the year. With Bryant being injured, the Los Angeles Lakers’ management needs to think about the future (acquiring young talent through trades and free agency). Kobe’s role when he gets back should be one of a mentor. Will the Lakers put some talent around Kobe in his final hour or make it the last step of the tank job?
2. Brandon Jennings – The Detroit Pistons were getting it together, everyone was finding their way and suddenly Brandon Jennings goes down with a torn Achilles. He will miss the rest of the season and it will be up to the rest of the team to continue to grow and fill in to their roles. DJ Augustin is not as good as Jennings but he may be enough to help Detroit land the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
3. Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets currently hold the eighth seat in the East and Kemba Walker was everything to that team. He led the team in points, assists and steals. With his knee injury, there is no timeline on his return. He may be able to return by the end of the season, but will the Hornets still be a playoff contender when he gets back. Let’s see if Charlotte makes a trade to stay in the hunt.
4. Tony Wroten – Philadelphia has been in tank mode for a while now and the loss of Tony Wroten puts them in a deeper hole. Wroten led the team in points (16.9) and steals (1.6) and so far in his absence it’s been up to Michael Carter-Williams to put up buckets for Philly. Wroten, out with a torn ACL, wasn’t going to make the 76ers a contenders but even the worst teams should have a guy that they can look to for producing points.
5. Kevin Durant – Kevin Durant missed about the first month and a half of the season with a foot injury. He came back in December and was injured again halfway through the month. Well now Durant is day to day with a toe injury. Due to his injuries, the Oklahoma City Thunder is struggling to get into the playoff picture and it will be up to K.D and Russell Westbrook to stay healthy if they want to find a spot in the tournament.