The NBA’s 2019-20 season saw several superstars sit on the sidelines with serious and season-ending surgeries. These injuries impacted their respective teams and hurt their franchises’ championship aspirations.
The current season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is no guarantee when it will be continued, if ever. What is sure is this though. The 2020-21 season will be next and with a new season comes a new story. For the teams who missed key players during the 2019-20 season, it will be a fresh start and another chance at claiming NBA glory.
Let’s take a look at which NBA player comebacks we most looking forward to seeing next season:
Nurkic was having the time of his NBA life in Portland. The 16th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft spent his first three NBA seasons in Denver’s bench but became a steady double-double player in Portland. Nurkic was having his best season ever in 2019 as he was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, both career-highs. It looked as if Portland had found the big man to compliment their dynamic backcourt of Lillard and McCollum but one fateful day in March 2019, Nurkic suffered a horrific leg injury reminiscent of Gordon Hayward’s broken leg.
The Blazers acquired Hassan Whiteside during the offseason to help offset Nurkic’s absence. However, the Blazers struggled during the 2019-20 season and were 3.5 games off a playoff spot when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Portland also lost Rodney Hood and Myers Leonard to injuries. The Blazers were coming off a season where they made it to the Western Conference Finals. Getting Nurk back next season to play with Whiteside increases their ceiling and gives them more presence in the middle. I think the Blazers will have a strong 2020-21 season with Nurkic back.
DeMarcus Cousins is probably one of the unluckiest players in the NBA. Boogie suffered a season-ending injury during his contract year and instead of landing a huge max deal, he signed with the Golden State Warriors for $5.3M, perhaps hoping to win a ring while no team offered him max money due to his injury. Cousins was able to suit up for the Dubs and even played in the Finals but they lost to the Raptors. Cousins signed with the Lakers during the offseason and joined a line-up that had LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He suffered another season-ending injury during practice and was waived by the Lakers in mid-season.
He looked in good shape with the Warriors but was never really able to fit their system and was also a bit out of shape when he played with the Dubs. He was looking fit and ready when he suffered an ACL tear during a preseason workout. If there is one player out there who deserves a max contract, it’s Boogie. He is one of the best centers in the league but hasn’t been able to get healthy. Hopefully, he gets a clean bill of health and returns next season. He’s only 29 years old and there is still plenty of basketball left to play.
John Wall played only 32 games during the 2018-19 season, the fewest in his career after the All-Star guard undergoing season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs on his heel and repair “chronic Achilles tendon injury in January 2019. One month later, Wall reportedly fell in his home and ruptured his Achilles, moving his timetable farther. He had just signed a four-year $170M that included a $37.8M salary during the 2019-20 season.
The Washington Wizards have been perennial playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference. This season, Washington played without John Wall and while Bradley Beal had plenty of big moments, he was unable to get Washington to the Top 8. The Wizards were 5.5 games off the playoff pace in the East when play was halted. Beal was getting a little frustrated because he had little to no help. With Wall back next season, the Wizards should pick up where they left off before Wall was hurt.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving
The Brooklyn Nets were called the biggest winners of the 2019-20 Free Agency after landing two of the top free agents during the summer The Nets not only bagged Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors, they also picked up Kyrie Irving from the Boston Celtics. But the effect of these acquisitions wasn’t expected to be seen during the 2019-20 season because Durant sat out the year after suffering an Achilles injury during the 2019 NBA Finals. But with Irving joining the cast of Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and DeAndre Jordan, the Nets were expected to be one of the top contenders in the East.
However, the Nets struggled to find consistency during the season. And worse, they struggled, even more, when Irving was on the court. Kyrie ended up playing only 20 games during the 2019-20 season after undergoing season-ending shoulder injury. The Nets fought on without him and before the season was suspended, they were able to occupy the 7th position in the East. The Nets fired head coach Kenny Atkinson and it will be interesting to see who will call the shots next season.
The Golden State Warriors went from being the 2019 Western Conference champions to the team with the worst record in the league the year. This happened after Golden State lost Klay Thompson to injury during the Finals, Kevin Durant to free agency, and Stephen Curry playing just five games this season after undergoing surgery on his left hand. Curry was able to play one game after that injury last March 6, 2020, or a week before the season was suspended. He missed the remaining games after he was diagnosed with the flu.
The 2019-20 season was the worst in the Steve Kerr era and the Warriors had their first losing season since 2015. They had won the NBA title in three of the previous four seasons but losing the Splash Brothers this year cost them a lot. The Warriors phenomenon began with the Splash Brothers in 2015 and we’d love to see them get back together next season. Even without Kevin Durant, the Warriors are contenders with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. They are expected to get a high lottery pick this season which should help them draft a high-quality rookie. The Bay Area is excited about next season.