2014 NBA draft class taking hits
Injuries have sidelined many of the top picks
KOBE BRYANT might want to block incoming calls to his cellphone because if the Lakers star is into doing injury-recovery counseling like he recently did with injured Pacers star Paul George, his line could get really busy.
George is out for the 2014-15 season after breaking a leg in August while training for the FIBA World Cup with Team USA.
Bryant played just six games during the 2013-14 season after injuring a knee.
"Having been through these types of situations, I wanted [George] to know if he needed some advice on how I tried to work on my game, even though I wasn't playing, to give me a call," Bryant recently said. "I'd like to talk to him a little bit."
I can think of several NBA rookies, starting with Bryant's teammate Julius Randle, who might want to have the same conversation.
The scouting reports called the 2014 NBA draft class generational - potentially on par with the 1984 draft that yielded Naismith Hall of Fame players Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton; the 1996 draft that produced likely Hall of Fame players Bryant, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen and Steve Nash; and the 2003 draft of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
So far, 2014's class has been star-crossed, with devastating injuries affecting several players selected in the top seven.
This week Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker, who was selected second overall, tore an ACL and is out for the season.
Parker joined Randle, the seventh overall pick who broke his right tibia in October, in having his rookie season end just as it was barely starting.
Sixers rookie Joel Embiid, picked third overall, might not play at all this season after having surgery to repair a broken foot bone.
Orlando Magic rookie Aaron Gordon (fourth overall) played 11 games before being ruled out indefinitely with a broken foot.
Also missing significant time because of injuries are Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (sixth) due to an ankle injury; Charlotte forward Noah Vonleh (ninth), who has yet to play because of a sports hernia; and Chicago forward Doug McDermott (11th), who is out indefinitely after arthroscopic knee surgery.
Injuries are part of the game, and players like Jordan and Clippers forward Blake Griffin made it back just fine after early injuries that looked serious.
You hope that all of these young players will recover fully and help this class live up to its potential as the one that will lead the next wave of great NBA competition.
What scares you is that one of this kids could end up being a Sam Bowie, Danny Manning, Jay Williams, DaJuan Wagner, Shaun Livingston or Greg Oden, who were never able to make it all the way back from the injuries that crippled their entire careers.