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In Street Clothes

Covering sports injuries from the perspective of a certified athletic trainer and backed by analytics.

Houston Rockets

Summary

Keith Jones and associate Jason Biles led a medical staff that finished with the fewest number of games lost to injury despite a roster of players perceived by many to be injury prone.  Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, and Nene combined to miss just 20 regular season games, one year after the trio individually averaged 20 games missed each.  MVP candidate James Harden missed just one game despite finishing in the top three for minutes played for the third consecutive season.

Despite the good health, the Rockets came up short in the postseason falling to the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals.  The team remained aggressive in the offseason striking a deal to add point guard Chris Paul from the Clippers. Defensive stalwarts PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute also added depth while creating a versatile roster for coach Mike D’Antoni.

Paul’s long-term health will be a point of emphasis as the nine-time All-Star has seen injuries end his season in two of his last three seasons. He played in all seven of Los Angeles’ playoff games last year but did miss 14 regular season games following thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament.

Paul’s presence should ease Harden’s workload and help keep him fresh as the year progresses. Repeating last season’s success may prove difficult and a small regression should be expected. However, Jones and the remainder of the Rockets medical team have shown a propensity for minimizing soft tissue injuries during recent year, a common and nagging problem for other teams.