The Charlotte Hornets have had an interesting season, to put it lightly.
It started when one of the new faces of the franchises, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, torn the labrum in his right shoulder early in the preseason. The team was able to overcome the loss of their defensive leader to put together one of the best starts in franchise history, only for it all to come crashing down when shot regression, combined with even more injuries to other key players (Al Jefferson, Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller, just to name a few) and the team's poor defense mixed together to create an ugly, sloppy stretch that few in Buzz City care to remember.
The injuries were the main focus during the skid, mainly because it seemed like a familiar refrain for the franchise. Since the return of basketball in Charlotte, the team has seemed unable to catch many, if any, breaks — from losing out on the number 1 pick after the worst season in NBA history to being unable to go one season without a major injury to a major player.
It did not help that the team centered itself around players like Jefferson and Batum, both of whom have a reputation for being injury-prone and have both played a full 82 games in a season just once in their careers, or players like Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker, who could be on their way to joining Jefferson and Batum as players labeled "injury prone."
But just how bad are things for Charlotte? Every team faces its fair share of injury problems, and no team is 100 percent healthy at this stage of a season. Are the Hornets more injury prone than any other team, or are fans viewing the team inside their own bubble, unaware of how bad things are outside of it?
Fortunately for fans, there are now sites that help cover injuries to teams to help a random blogger answer such a question. Meet Man-Games Lost, a website that tracks the number and impact of injuries a team faces throughout a season, whether it is the NBA, NHL, MLB or NFL.
The site not only keeps track of the number of games missed by players (and why) a team faces, but attempts to measure the impact of those absences using two statistics — Lost-vorp and IIT-VORP. The site defines Lost-Vorp as "quantified impact to team of games missed by a player due to injury due to their lost VORP (value over replacement player)" and IIT-VORP as "quantified impact to team of games missed by a player due to injury weighted by the number of games they’ve missed, their VORP, the number of games played by their team, and the number of games they’ve played." More information on how these are calculated can be found on the site's FAQ page.
As for how injury-bitten the Hornets are compared to the rest of the league, the team is not the worst, but they do rank in the top team in the Association.
It is hard to find Charlotte here, but they are the big red circle near the middle of the chart, behind Houston and just above Milwaukee.
What does the chart mean?
The Hornets have indeed had to deal with more injuries than the average team, and had lost higher quality players than the average team. Numbers-wise, the Hornets have lost 118 games to player injury, seventh-most in the NBA. The team's Lost-VORP is .725, which ranks 12th in Association, and their IIT-VORP is 22.862, ninth in the Association.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, unsurprisingly, leads the team in games missed with 46, well ahead of Jefferson (28). Those 46 games are also tied for 10th-most in the NBA (tied with Jordan Adams of Memphis). The site also says that Batum has the greatest injury impact on the team, ranking 11th in IIT-VORP (10.606, just ahead of Marcus Smart and ranking behind Stephen Curry) and 18th in Lost-VORP (.298, ranking just ahead of Carmelo Anthony and DeMarcus Cousins). The difference between Batum and the next closest Hornet in both rankings is staggering. The second-highest rated Hornet in IIT-VORP is Zeller (3.575) and in Lost-VORP is Jefferson (.161).
But as bad as things are for Charlotte, it could be much worse. Buzz City, be thankful you do not cheer for one of these teams.
A division rival of the Hornets, the Wizards have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries. Washington has lost 214 player games due to injury (easily the most in the Association), including six players who have missed at least 20 games and two (Alan Anderson and Martell Webster) who have missed the entire season. The biggest issue the team has had has been with Bradley Beal, who has missed 21 of the team's 49 games, has a Lost-VORP of .219 and an IIT-VORP of 3.512.
With 150 games lost to injury, New Orleans has dealt with the third-most injuries in the league, but have arguably dealt with bigger injuries than any other team. The Pelicans have had five players miss at least 10 of the team's 51 games, including Eric Gordon, Kendrick Perkins and Tyreke Evans, and the face of the franchise, Anthony Davis, has been playing hurt for most of this season. The team's Lost-VORP of .933 is the sixth-highest in the league.
If any team can claim to have dealt with more injuries to stars than the Pelicans, it would be Utah. The Jazz have lost 112 games due to injury, tied for 11th-most in the Association, but here is the list of players who have missed double-digit games for the team: Derrick Favors (16 games), Rudy Gobert (20), Alec Burks (22) and Dante Exum (50). Man-Games Lost actually says that Gobert is actually one of the most valuable players in the league, according to the site's statistics. Gobert's Lost-VORP is 1.195, highest in the league, and his IIT-VORP of 21.516 is second only to Kevin Durant.
To summarize, yes, the Hornets have dealt with their fair share of injuries and injuries to key players, but things are not nearly as bad they could be. So be thankful, Hornets fans, and hope that no further injury problems plague the franchise.