The NBA season opens with a couple high-profile matchups on Oct. 24 before a full slate of games on Oct. 25. Naturally, there’s a great deal of excitement around the league’s unprecedented competitive parity. It truly feels like four, five, six, seven teams could win it all, and there’s always a chance for more contenders to emerge during the season.
Of course, the 82-game regular season is a marathon. NBA teams tread carefully with injuries, especially to key stars. That could mean a couple of stars end up missing their opening-night matchups.
Right now, the bulk of high-profile injury concerns are pinned on three players — Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, and Milwaukee Bucks wing Khris Middleton.
Here’s an update on where each player’s injury status stands.
Khris Middleton opted for surgery on his right knee after the playoffs to address lingering pain that bothered him throughout last season. Middleton tore his right meniscus in college and has dealt with on-and-off knee problems throughout his career, but nothing quite like last season when he appeared in 33 total games due to knee troubles and recovery from a wrist procedure.
Middleton has been a full participant in Bucks practice since training camp began on Oct. 3, but he hadn’t appeared in a preseason game until Friday. Middleton is expected to play in the Bucks’ preseason finale in Memphis. He should, logically, be a full go for the Bucks’ regular-season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Draymond Green has missed all of the Golden State Warriors training camp and preseason action with a sprained left ankle he suffered in offseason workouts. The team released an update on Oct. 17, saying Green has made “good progress,” but providing minimal certainty about his status.
“Warriors forward Draymond Green, who suffered a sprained left ankle during off-season workouts and has missed the first three (3) preseason games, is making good progress. He has been cleared to begin light on-court workouts (shooting drills, etc.) and his return to full team practice and scrimmages will be based on his continued progress. He will be re-evaluated again on Sunday.”
Green will be re-evaluated on Sunday, two days prior to Golden State’s season opener against the Phoenix Suns. While there’s no denying Green’s competitive spirit, the 33-year-old has reached the point in his career where caution is paramount. One has to imagine Golden State will maintain the long view.
It’s best to consider Green questionable at best, with a doubtful slant.
Luka Doncic continues to deal with a left calf strain, which has limited him to all but five minutes of preseason action when the Dallas Mavericks visited his old stomping grounds in Madrid. He will not play in the Mavs’ preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons.
According to head coach Jason Kidd, there is “no timetable” for Doncic’s return, which isn’t the best news considering that opening night is five days away. The Mavs will travel in-state to face Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs in a game that profiles as must-watch TV.
Unfortunately, Doncic probably skews more doubtful than questionable based on what we know.