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2018-19 NBA season: 5 stars with a point to prove on injury comebacks

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10.21K   //    20 Aug 2018, 22:08 IST

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics
Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

The 2017-18 season saw a whole host of amazing players go down to injury at various points in the season. Some, such as Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker, were already on the injured list at the start of the year.

Players such as Gordon Hayward and Mike Conley joined them on the treatment table not long after that, and the season-ending injuries kept coming late into the season as the likes of Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas had to miss the end of last season due to an assortment of injuries.

All of these aforementioned players will be under some amount of pressure or the other when the 2018-19 NBA season tips off on the 16th of October. This list deals with proven stars of the league who've already led teams to playoff spots or better, and the ranking is done according to the expectations that their individual seasons are under:

#5 Mike Conley

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Six
San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Six

Much has been made of Mike Conley's 5-year, $153 million contract which he signed in the summer of 2016, but other than injury, his play suggests nothing other than the fact that he's worth every penny of it. Conley is the best NBA player today to never crack an All-NBA or the All-Star roster through 11 seasons in the league, but you'd know better than to count him out.

His performance in the 2016-17 season silenced doubters and critics as he averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals for the Grizzlies, who finished a credible 7th in the playoff standings that year.

The Memphis franchise does not own its 2019 first-round pick, and so far, all the indications point to them trying to salvage the 2018-19 season with a win-now mentality. Ruled out for all but 12 games of the 2017-18 season due to injury, Conley's comeback will be a huge boost to them as they regain the best perimeter defender and offensive player for the '18-19 season.

I, for one, will be rooting for Conley even though he realistically has few chances, if any, of making it to an All-Star team or leading the Grizzlies to one final playoff bow alongside Marc Gasol.

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Started as an Arsenal fan at the age of 6. Became a Ronaldo and a Real Madrid fan after the 2002 World Cup. Bandwagon Celtics fan this season, though I've watched the NBA with increasing frequency over the past 14 years or so. Played both games with my high school team at some of the highest levels there are in India. Played against East Bengal u-17s in college. A member of Mercurial FC, 1st division Amateur League team in Bangalore.
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