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Top five players in NBA history whose careers were killed by injuries

So many NBA players have failed to live up to the hype due to injuries. Planet Sport's Jason Soutar looks at five players who spent too much time on the treatment table.

Zion Williamson, Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin are three of the most injury prone players in the NBA at this moment in time.
While Griffin is at the latter stages of his career, there is hope that Zion and Simmons will be able to enjoy wonderful careers.
There are one too many players who have struggled to meet their potential and it would be a huge shame to see this continue to happen to some of the best young talent in the NBA.
Considering how good they could have been, Planet Sport ranks the five players with the least amount of luck with injuries in NBA history.

5) Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose managed to get his hands on the MVP trophy, but his career could have been so much better.
The point guard won Rookie of the Year, became an All-Star in his second season, and amazingly, became the youngest MVP in NBA history in only his third year in the league.
He was rewarded by the Chicago Bulls with a huge new contract in December 2011 but was limited to only 39 regular season appearances due to injuries. Rose was back for the playoffs and was ready to push the Bulls to an NBA title.
However, disaster would strike. In Game 1 of the first-round bout against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose tore his ACL while trying to jump. The Bulls were up 12 points with just less than a minute-and-a-half left in the fourth quarter. He shouldn't have even been in the game at that point...

Rose never returned to the MVP star he was after undergoing knee surgery. He missed the entire 12/13 season and only played ten games the following year.

The 14/15 campaign was better. Rose played 51 regular season games, averaging 30 minutes played per game, before starting all 12 of the Bulls playoff matches, averaging nearly 38 minutes per game.

Since then, D-Rose has played in eight playoff games - three of which came as a starter.
The 34-year-old played for the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons between 2016 and 2021 before returning to the Big Apple.
Rose's second stint with the Knicks has been a success, despite his struggles over the years. He came third in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 21-22 as New York finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The highlight of Rose's career since that fateful knee injury came on October 31, 2018, when he scored 50 points for the Timberwolves in a 128-125 win over the Utah Jazz. Rose was incredibly emotional after such a superb performance, which was a joy to see.

4) Greg Oden

The Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden as the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, ahead of Kevin Durant.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be a regretful decision. Oden's injuries began hindering his career before he played an NBA game. On September 14, 2007, he had surgery on his right knee and missed his entire rookie season.
Oden's NBA debut was a disappointing one. After failing to score in 13 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers, he left the floor with a foot injury.
He missed two weeks, had a few good games, and then missed another three weeks after chipping his left knee cap.

Twenty one games into his third year in the league, Oden injured his left knee and it was instantly thought to be another serious issue. The former center underwent surgery for a fractured left patella and for the second time was ruled out for the season.

A year later, Oden (you guessed it) suffered another season-ending injury.
Multiple surgeries later, Oden played his first game since December 2009 in a pre-season encounter for the Miami Heat against the New Orleans Pelicans in October 2013. January saw Oden's return to an NBA court and a month later he started a game.
Oden came off the bench in three games in the 13-14 playoffs as the Heat lost the NBA Finals in five games.
After that series, Oden's NBA career was done and dusted. This is a huge 'what could have been'.

3) Grant Hill

Grant Hill linked up with the amazing Tracy McGrady - more on him later - with the Orlando Magic in a bid to win the franchise their first title. His time with T-Mac was extremely disappointing, unfortunately.
Hill struggled greatly with ankle injuries. He only played four games in his first season (00-01) with the Magic, 14 games in his second and 29 in his third. Furthermore, he was forced to sit out his entire fourth year in Orlando.
Prior to his time with the Magic, Hill lit up the league with the Pistons. An ankle sprain in his final season in Detroit came shortly before the playoffs. Hill played on the injury but quickly realised it was too much and sat out as his team were swept.
Hill's first six years in the NBA were outstanding. He was on track to become one of the best players of all time, but it wasn't to be thanks to his injury issues.
Hill managed to play on and have a productive career before his retirement in 2013, being named in the NBA Hall of Fame.
However, he was never the same player after he left the Pistons.
It is safe to say that Hill had an incredible amount of potential, even before he played an NBA game. He was excellent in high school and had a glistening college career.
Hill played for four different teams in his 19-year career and was named an All-Star seven times.

2) Penny Hardaway

Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway was a 6'7" point guard who showed similarities to Magic Johnson. His size and speed made him a nightmare to defend.
Penny played with Shaquille O'Neal in Orlando (is this franchise cursed?) and even defeated Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the playoffs before losing to Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets.

The 97/98 season saw Penny suffer a huge knee injury which completely altered his career.

Hardaway's explosiveness was gone, and he moved from the Magic to the Phoenix Suns in 1999. The Suns had hoped that Penny could form a formidable front court with Jason Kidd, but injuries stopped them from playing enough games together.
Kidd moved on and Hardaway was paired up with Stephon Marbury but the team did not benefit from this trade. Penny was then limited to a bench role but was able to put up some good numbers.

With the Knicks, Hardaway spent the majority of 04/05 battling injuries and was then limited to only four appearances the season after.

Penny retired after being waived by the Heat in December 2007.

1) Tracy McGrady

"He could do everything I could, but he was 6'10. He had no weaknesses in his game, he could score from anywhere and defend. He's the hardest player I have ever had to guard," the great Kobe Bryant once said about Tracy McGrady. It is important to remember that Bryant has played against Michael Jordan AND LeBron James.
T-Mac is perhaps the biggest 'what if' in NBA history. He had a ridiculous amount of talent but retired without a championship. If it wasn't for injuries, McGrady could have retired with multiple rings and MVPs.
Drafted by the Toronto Raptors, T-Mac would play with his second cousin Vince Carter in Canada, before signing with the Magic in 2000 free agency.
He had back issues during the early years of his career but battled through the pain. After failing to win in Orlando with Grant Hill, McGrady then failed to win with Yao Ming at the Houston Rockets before brief stints with the Knicks, Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs - who he nearly won a championship with.
In San Antonio, McGrady played six playoff matches as the Spurs lost the 2013 NBA Finals to the Heat in seven games. This season was the first time T-Mac played post-season basketball beyond the first round.

Back spasms hindered McGrady between 2005 and 2007. In the 2007/08 season the injuries piled up. The former shooting guard suffered injuries to his ankle, shoulder, elbow and most importantly, his knee, requiring surgery at the end of the campaign.

McGrady never recovered and could not recapture his best form after undergoing knee surgery.
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