At the beginning of the season, there is no way someone could have predicted all the injuries that would occur and what a strong effect they would have on the landscape. Every team throughout the NBA has faced these issues, although some have been hit much harder. Looking in the Western Conference, we see the OKC Thunder, a 2 seed from last year stacked with 2 superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, good enough to make any team an instant contender. Instead, Durant went down in a preseason game and has missed most of the season coming back sporadically, while Westbrook missed 14 early games, causing the shallow Thunder to limp to a weak 5-12 start. Many strong teams have had their fair share of injuries, causing the playoff picture to completely warp from last year. The Spurs went a significant time without Kawhi Leonard and started off slowly. The Rockets lost Dwight Howard for a long time and now are missing two more of their starters as they head to the playoffs. The Pelicans have been absolutely hammered, missing Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, and Ryan Anderson for large chunks of time, that have left them fighting with the Thunder for the last playoff spot. Two of the strongest teams in the West are those that have been relatively injury free. The Golden State Warriors have only had one major injury with David Lee, but even that turned out to be a blessing as we saw the potent Draymond Green shine in his new starting spot, while the Grizzlies have had no real significant injuries to their roster. In the NBA, their is a constant unpredictability that makes it so the league is always competitive as they fight for the Playoffs, but you have to realize that part of the season just boils down to luck. Even with the strongest roster in history, it’ll have no effect if you can’t get these superstars off the pine. A teams hopes for the future can be shattered in an instant, like the Indiana Pacers after Paul George shattered his leg with Team USA and was out for the year. Without a leader to guide your team, even people that would regularly be a sure contender can slip, and fall right out of that playoff picture and straight into the lottery. In the NBA, it does take hard work, but it is essential to have a little bit of luck.