What is your all-time NBA starting five of players whose careers were cut short by injury?

PG: Penny Hardaway

Yes.. no brainer here. I’m taking Penny over Derrick Rose anyday. While Rose was very athletic, Penny was much more offensively polished and doesn’t need to just drive to the basket, he had incredible handles and a nice jumper too, and was a great playmaker and floor general.

SG: David Thompson

Ok, technically he wasn’t an ‘injury’ but he was certainly a what if. Skywalker in his prime.. 27 a night, even scored 73 pts in a game before (without 3pt line), incredibly athletic finisher and dunker. Michael Jordan’s idol. Drazen Petrovic and Brandon Roy are other what if guys here (or Tmac although he had a HoF career regardless).. but I’m taking DT by a hair. He was a baller in his prime.

SF: Grant Hill

In his prime.. probably the best SF in the league. Wasn’t as great a defender as Pippen but Grant was all around the more talented player. He had good handles, good size and speed and a nice offensive game. People have called him ‘Lebron before Lebron’ but Grant didn’t have the strength of Lebron.. I tend to defer that title to George McGinnis instead. But Grant Hill before his injuries yeah.. best SF in the league. You *might* also call Roger Brown a what if.. but I think he had a pretty good career despite it being short. Bernard King as well if we’re talking pure scorers he’s an option albeit not as well rounded as Hill.

PF: Connie Hawkins

I think I’ve wrote many times before how big of a Hawkins fan I am. He was so athletic and so skilled. He’s a mix of Baylor and Dr J. He had huge hands and could palm the ball like Kawhi could. He could finish around the rim with power or do an acrobatic layup or a nice midrange jumper. Hawkins in his NBA rookie season averaged 25/10/5, was All-NBA 1st team and took the Wilt/Baylor/West Lakers to 7 games in the playoffs. I genuinely believe Hawkins would the best PF in the league if he was healthy. Maurice Stokes could have been another option he was a great 16/17/4 player who got paralyzed due to an injury. Unfortunately we just didn’t see enough of him play.

C: Bill Walton

The other what if option would have been fellow Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis (Blazers have a lot of what ifs), but my pick is Walton. He was healthy for all of 2.5 seasons. During those seasons, he was 2x all-star, 2x all-nba, 2x all-def, 1x mvp, 1x fmvp, 1x champion, blks leader, reb leader and 6th man of the year… I mean wow. That’s up there with some of the best 2 year stretches of any big man ever to play the game. Just imagine if Walton was healthy for his whole career.


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