Can LeBron’s new ‘mates stay healthy?

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If the Cavaliers hope to win a championship this season, they’ll need both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving on the floor for the majority of games. (NBAE via Getty Images)

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Injuries unfortunately are making headlines again this preseason with seemingly a bushel of six-to-eight-week-type setbacks, Kevin Durant‘s right foot and Bradley Beal‘s left wrist being two of the most recent and most prominent.

Injuries to key players certainly can derail a season. Last year, Dwyane Wade‘s status was of constant concern to the Heat, and although he said otherwise, Wade seemed to labor through the NBA Finals. His ongoing knee maintenance and uncertainty of his availability week to week, and sometimes even game to game, was also the primary reason why it made sense for LeBron James to take his talents back to Cleveland and join a younger cast.

Wade missed 58 games over the last three seasons, 28 last year and there’s no guarantee this season he’ll be able to match the 54 games he played. But be careful. In Cleveland, the seemingly indestructible James (he’s never missed more than seven games in any of his 11 seasons) is paired with two All-Stars with something of an injury track record.

All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving on Wednesday already sat out his third consecutive preseason game with a sprained ankle. In the first quarter of that game, Kevin Love left and did not return because of a stiff neck, an injury that isn’t believed to be serious.

Irving has missed 49 games over the last three seasons, pretty comparable to Wade, who has much more mileage on his body. Love missed 80 games over that same stretch with 64 coming during two different stretches of the 2012-13 season due to a twice-broken hand. He originally broke his right hand in the preseason by, he says, doing knuckle pushups. He returned earlier than expected, played 18 games, and then re-broke the hand. At the end of that season, Love had surgery on his left knee to remove scar tissue.

Love missed just five games in his final frustrating season with Minnesota, and Irving gave the 33-win Cavs 71 games, missing 11. If new coach David Blatt can get anywhere near that availability from each player he’ll be ecstatic.

It’s just impossible to know. Some players seem to be more susceptible to injury than others. Maybe their bodies just aren’t as durable and their body parts succumb more easily. Irving is just 22 years old, but his list of injured body parts from one year at Duke through three seasons in the NBA could fill a medical encyclopedia: toe, biceps, shoulder, hand, finger, jaw, knees and now ankle.

Does it make him injury prone, or snake-bit? Does it mean he’ll always be one misstep away from trading in his uniform for a sport coat and a spot on the bench? Or is he just as likely to play all 82 games this season as he is to miss 10 games, or 20 games?

As Durant, who had missed only 16 of 558 regular-season games through his first seven seasons, said just 12 days before the Oklahoma City Thunder medical staff informed him he fractured his right foot and will miss up to two months: “You can get hurt walking outside. You hear that a lot, but you can get hurt anywhere. Freak accidents happen. But I’ve been playing this game so long that I know at any moment that something can happen.”

Love logged 36.3 minutes in 77 games last season. His injury history isn’t as ominous as Irving’s, but again, injuries are fickle. Love was already a bit banged up before the neck issue after he banged knees with Jabari Parker the night before.

As a rookie, Love played in 81 games. The next season he missed 22 games after he broke his left hand after banging it against a teammate’s elbow (does one of the league’s best rebounders and sweetest shooters have weak hands, or inexplicably bad luck with his hands?). In 2010-11, he missed nine games and then 11 the next season.

Health of course is a must for all teams. But for the championship-dreaming Cavaliers, already feeling a slight pinch from the injury bug, the ability for Irving and Love to remain on the floor with LeBron in their first season together is critical.

Is it possible? No one can answer that.

12 Comments

  1. Kyrie Irving says:

    I think that if me and Love start to get injured more frequently then Lebron will begin to feel like he is holding the team up by himself and will want to be signed with a different team again.

  2. Teefal says:

    Kyrie and K-Love will be fine this year because they got Bron Bron and much improved team to shoulder the load. Trying to do too much causes injury. None of the players will have to push themselves super hard, in the regular season anyway. Also when your winning players are more motivated to play and not get injured. LOL

    Go RapS!

  3. hossam says:

    Lebron james he want to win the chamiponship with the Cavs this season and he can do it

  4. KidLR says:

    Dallas won a championship 3 years ago, it’s not like they were dismantled. Charlotte? Really?

  5. lakers says:

    KYRIE IS THE KEY….

  6. Roger tornga says:

    I’ve always rooted against LeBron, but I’d like to see him bring a championship to Cleveland this year. Watching closely and tantalized by the process. I. also, really like Coach Blatt and wish him championship success.

  7. Angel says:

    Watching basketball for me is fine, but playing it? No way I’d rather play tennis than basketball instead.

  8. The Cavs have a deep team , what will drive them to the play offs this year will be the defense on the wings lead by Waiters ‘ James and Marion , They have 3 Guys that could average double digit rebounds . The rookie Harris has a sweet stroke and could be a poor mans Dan Marlje .( might be spelled wrong). But the east is on watch .I feel waiters will be given the task of shutting down the elite point guards .And this will save Kyrie.. The League is in Trouble …. Go CAVS

  9. Kirby Record says:

    No person who ever competed in sports at a serious level would fail to understand that athletes get injuries and some get them more often than others, Some are injury prone, some have bad training habits and some are just unlucky. So yes, the Cavs–like just about every other team–may have injuries this season. The timing is most important because a real contender will get to the playoffs even with some injuries to key players. Being healthy in postseason is what counts, though the Heat in the last three years were never really healthy in postseason and still won two titles. When has Wade been totally healthy the past four years? As long as James is able to play most of a game, they have a chance to win it, as Heat showed again and again. But they won’t win a 7-game series against a healthy Spurs, a healthy OKC or even a healthy Bulls team without a healthy team all the way around.

  10. TheKush says:

    Kyrie and Kevin are injury prone, however there’s some kind of magic happening in Ohio right now, they have great sports fans and I’m a believer that the Cavs will win a championship. When? I don’t know I just think everything is falling into place!

  11. harriethehawk says:

    Me personally, I don’t think half of these guys are really injured during this pre-season. Coaches are just resting their guys to gear up for the 2014–2015 season, which I think is going to be the most exciting and the most competitive we have seen in many years. I love the there could be a shake-up or changing of the guards, in both the Western (welcome Dallas, Phoenix and New Orleans) and Leastern Conferences (welcome Cleveland, Detroit and Charlotte). Yeah!!!!!