This week, we once again welcome Stephania Bell into the Hoops Lab. She does outstanding work helping us understand and better estimate injury absences and return prognostications. This season is one of the most unique in NBA history, and questions about player health and availability extend beyond the usual mechanical and physical maladies.
The pandemic has changed our lives on so many levels over the past year. Players are human, like everyone else, and they have been impacted in ways similar to the rest of us. Some players have lost loved ones. Others have had the virus and dealt with the physical and emotional toll that it can take.
Even those who haven't had direct contact with the virus were hugely affected by the shutdown and quarantine. Injured players didn't have the free access to scrimmage and game action that they normally would. Players who were in the bubble, especially those on teams that went well into the playoffs, got much less rest than usual. Some players -- those who opted out or were on teams that didn't qualify -- didn't play at all once the 2019-20 season resumed in Orlando, which means they enter the 2020-21 campaign having not played competitive basketball in nine months.
This combines to create new levels of uncertainty, particularly for players who were dealing with injuries. Stephania and I discussed these issues as we prepare for a special season. Below, we take a look at what to expect this season from Karl-Anthony Towns, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant, John Wall, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins.
Towns was in the midst of a career-best performance last season, but he dealt with knee issues that sidelined him earlier in the season and a fractured left wrist in February. The latter injury eventually ended his season, though reports on his progress suggested that