One thing that everyone will remember about the 2021-22 NBA season is the injury list. Too many prominent players missed time and it greatly affected their teams’ rankings. Aside from that, teams had to navigate through the dreaded Health and Safety Protocols, so even if a player appeared fit to play, he may have been forced to sit out some games due to COVID-19 concerns.
When some teams were missing only one esteemed player, others were missing two. The task of going through a whole season drastically changed for squads and their fans. Expectations were adjusted and the injury bugs took the blame. Some fanbases were simply just waiting for the season to end.
Here are the top five duos who were sorely missed by their devoted fans last season.
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.
Murray was out for the year while Porter only played in nine games. The Nuggets took a big hit because Nikola Jokic was the lone star player. The result was a sixth-seed finish in the standings and a first-round meeting with the Golden State Warriors. On a positive note, they won one game and avoided being swept by the eventual champions.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
The Los Angeles Clippers, like the Nuggets, also took one of the biggest bites from the injury bugs. Leonard missed the entire season and George only appeared in 31 games. With a healthy Leonard and George back next season, fans know that a deep postseason run is possible. The Clippers had a chance to make the playoffs even without their top two players. Next season, the team should easily make it to the top five in the standings and won’t have to worry about another early exit in the play-in tournament.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum or Jusuf Nurkic
Lillard only played 29 games for the Portland Trail Blazers due to abdominal surgery. Losing Lillard early in the season was enough to derail Portland’s year, but more bad news came as the months passed by. McCollum suffered a collapsed lung and was traded away after he recovered. The next man up would have been Nurkic, but he suffered a left foot injury and was sidelined until the season ended. It is clear that last year was a lost season.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
This duo missed a lot of playing time. Irving sat because he had to follow rules regarding players who were not vaccinated while Durant missed more than a month as he nursed a left knee injury. If they were healthy together, they would have easily finished near the top of the standings and would have avoided facing the Boston Celtics in the first round. We all know what happened in that series.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James
It’s easy to make fun of the Los Angeles Lakers for missing the postseason, but fans know too well that a healthy Davis and James would be a difficult pair to overcome, especially in the playoffs. There were too many games where James played without Davis or vice versa. Even those not rooting for the Lakers can say that the postseason atmosphere was different without them.
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