Injuries are a part of the game, but often don’t define a career. However, for these players, injuries were the main factor that held them back from reaching stardom. Players like Brandon Roy showed us their skills, while players like Greg Oden will always leave us wondering what could have been.
Brandon Roy: Frankly, Roy never had a shot. He had known knee issues prior to the 2006 NBA Draft. Nevertheless, Roy could have been a stud. He played into the 2010-2011 NBA season before his knees could no longer perform at the high level the NBA demands. He had just signed a 4-year max deal to stay in Portland and was looking like he was going to be a regular in the all-star game.
After a career of “What could have been,” Roy is now a promising high school head coach that just led his school to a 29-0 regular season record.
Accomplishments: 2007 Rookie of the year. 3x NBA Alll-Star (2008, 2009, 2010). Tied for second most steals in a single game with 10 on Jan. 24, 2009.
What could have been: 2011 NBA MVP, 8x NBA All-Star
Jay Williams: Duke star Jay Williams was the No. 2 pick to the Bulls in the 2002 draft. Williams talents were taken away from him all too soon. He dealt with a number of issues when adjusting to the NBA lifestyle. A motorcycle accident that injured his leg ended his playing career.
Despite potentially being more talented than the players on the court, Williams found himself on the sidelines. He became an ESPN analyst in 2008 and has carved himself a niche in the college basketball scene.
Accomplishments: Top ten in points and top five in assists and steals all-time at Duke.
What could have been: All-NBA Defensive First Team 2005, 4x NBA All-Star
Grant Hill: Unlike the first two, Grant Hill had a wildly successful NBA career, but he never reached true stardom. Those who are in their twenties know him as the role player for the LA Clippers helping Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan emerge as Western Conference contenders. However, Hill had star potential as a draftee out of Duke. He played his best stretch of his career as a point-forward on the Detroit Pistons before being traded and paired up with Tracy McGrady in Orlando.
After the move, Hill dealt with major ankle injuries that caused him to miss the majority of four seasons during his prime. Hill continued to fight through injuries before deciding to retire in 2013 after 19 NBA seasons.
Accomplishments: 2x NCAA champion, 7x NBA all star (1995-1998, 2000, 2001, 2005), All-NBA first team (1997). 3rd in MVP voting in 1996-1997.
What could have been: 12x NBA All-Star (1995-2007). NBA MVP (‘03), NBA Finals MVP (2004), 2003 and 2004 titles with the Magic (Hill’s former team, the Detroit Pistons, won the title in 2004).
Greg Oden: He doesn’t deserve to be on this list. I still remember the ESPN commercial that had Oden on all the advertisements such as his own cologne and swiffer sweeper. That might be my only true memory of him. To be fair, he always looked good when he was on the floor. He’ll go down as one of the biggest busts of all time because he was drafted before last year’s NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
Accomplishments: 2x Gatorade player of the year (2005 and 2006)
What could have been: 2x NBA All-Star, NBA leader in BPG (Blocks per game).
Andrew Bynum: This one stings. Bynum was putting up 20-20 games in LA. The Lakers seemed to know that he had medical issues beyond repair when they dealt him to Philly in a trade to land Dwight Howard (how’d that turn out?). The Sixers lost players like Nikola Vucevic and Andre Iguodala. A team led by Jrue Holiday, Lou Will, Swaggy P and Thaddeus Young could have really competed with an aging Celtics team in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, Bynum famously grew his afro out and re-injured his knees bowling. Not only did he cost the Sixers a plethora of picks and players, but never even suited up for his new team. At least he started Sam Hinkie’s “process”!
Accomplishments: 2x NBA champion (2009 and 2010), NBA All-Star (2012)
What could have been: Face of 76ers’ franchise, 3x NBA All-Star (2012, 2014, 2015)