Nine years on from Derrick Rose's MVP season - five NBA careers ruined by injury

By Sports Desk May 03, 2020

Things were looking up for the Chicago Bulls when Derrick Rose was named NBA MVP on May 3, 2011.

At 22 years old, Rose became the youngest player – and only the second for the Bulls after Michael Jordan – to win the award.

However, that proved to be the pinnacle of his fledgling career, as a serious knee injury denied him the chance to maximise his incredible potential.

Using data from Stats Perform, we look at five NBA careers that were ruined by injuries.

 

Derrick Rose

After being drafted first overall by the Bulls in 2008, Rose was tipped as a talent capable of leading them to their first NBA championship since the Jordan era.

He was named Rookie of the Year and earned MVP honours in the 2010-11 season after averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Rose led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat that year, but they were unable to deny LeBron James a first appearance in the NBA Finals and lost in five games.

However, an ACL tear in the first round of the playoffs the following season proved to be the first in a string of knee injuries that derailed what looked set to be a Hall of Fame career.

Rose's production has dropped across the board since that blow against the Philadelphia 76ers, the most notable of which is his points per game dipping from 21 beforehand to 16.8.

He managed 46 double-doubles and 41 30-point games prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, but since then he has managed just 12 and 15 respectively.

 

Penny Hardaway

Shaquille O'Neal encouraged the Orlando Magic to trade 1993 first overall draft pick Chris Webber to the Golden State Warriors for Hardaway and the pair quickly developed a formidable partnership that made the team championship contenders.

The Magic went all the way to the NBA Finals in 1995 but the youthful team were swept by the more experienced Houston Rockets and, after they lost to Jordan's Bulls in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals, O'Neal left for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hardaway appeared ready to become the leading man in Orlando but a knee injury sustained in December 1997 forced him to miss much of the remainder of the campaign.

He went from averaging 19.7 points and 6.3 assists per game to just 11.5 and 3.8 respectively.

Over half of the four-time All-Star's 313 games played prior to his injury saw him score 20 points or more. In his 391 appearances afterwards that ratio slipped to just 14.8 per cent.

 

Grant Hill

Two-time NCAA champion Hill entered the NBA surrounded by plenty of hype and he quickly established himself as a force in the league after being taken third overall by the Detroit Pistons in 1994.

He joined a select group of players to make the All-Star Game in their debut season and no one else in the league had as many votes as him – he ended up sharing Rookie of the Year honours with Jason Kidd.

Hill was a five-time All-Star and was the headline name heading into free agency in 2000, but he sustained a broken ankle – which he claims was mismanaged by the Pistons – during a first-round playoff game against the Heat and it altered the trajectory of his career.

The small forward landed with the Magic but was unable to continue delivering at his previous rates – his averages for points per game and assists per game fell from 21.6 and 6.3 to 13.1 and 2.6.

Hill managed just 31 double-doubles in the remaining 591 games of his career – just under a fifth of the amount he had accumulated in his first 435 appearances in the league.

His field-goal percentage may have increased from 47.6 per cent to 49.2 per cent, but just five of the 71 30-point games in his career came after his ankle injury.

 

Brandon Roy

Just one vote stopped Roy being a unanimous decision as Rookie of the Year in 2007, having averaged 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game during his first regular season with the Portland Trail Blazers.

He earned a four-year, maximum-salary contract in August 2009 and made his third All-Star appearance that season, but following surgery on a meniscus tear in his right knee – he had also previously had a procedure for a cartilage issue in his left knee – in April 2010 his career went south.

Roy, who had an operation on both knees in January 2011, would only play 52 more games in the NBA, five of which came in a bid to return from retirement with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2012-13 season.

In that period his points, assists and rebounds per game almost halved (points: 20.2 to 11.6, assists: 5.0 to 2.9, rebounds: 4.6 to 2.6).

Roy managed just one more double-double and 10 20-point games, having had 18 and 153 prior to the start of the 2010-11 season.

 

Tracy McGrady

The Rockets could have been championship contenders had McGrady and Yao Ming not both proved so injury-prone during their six years together on the team.

Despite an impressive start to life with the Rockets in 2004-05, back spasms sidelined McGrady for extended spells in the following two seasons.

The seven-time All-Star had painkilling injections to help ease knee and shoulder ailments ahead of the 2007-08 playoffs, but for the second straight season he was unable to guide Houston past the Utah Jazz in the first round.

McGrady's production fell off a cliff from the start of the following campaign. From scoring an impressive 22.4 points per game he slipped to just 8.7 – he only had one more 30-point game in the rest of his career, having had 205 beforehand.

As his career petered out at the New York Knicks, Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs – a short stint with the latter coming after a spell in China – McGrady went from a ratio of scoring 20 points every other game to doing so once in every 10 appearances.

However, he still earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.

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