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OKC Thunder: They Are Young, Healthy, and a Statistical Outlier

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Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus has a great post up regarding the comparative health of each team in the league:

Measuring Health: Quantifying Injury Impact in the NBA | Basketball Prospectus

If you go down his charts, you will find the effect of each team's cumulative injuries. Some teams, such as the Milwaukee Bucks, have suffered a crippling number of injuries this season. Others, such as the Thunder, have been relatively injury-free, at least in terms of missed game time. Kevin Durant missed a few games earlier in the season, and Kendrick Perkins was injured when he arrived to OKC, but other than that, the Thunder have been very healthy this season. What makes this fact all the more remarkable is that they were one of the healthiest teams last season as well. 

Statistical odds say that eventually the Thunder's health will approach the mean, but it is important to note that their relative health is likely a byproduct of their youth. While there is no protection from taking a bad fall or stepping on somebody's foot, it is easier for younger athletes to recover from such injuries. 

The most interesting data points to me involves the Chicago Bulls.  The Bulls, on a cumulative basis, have been one of the most injury-free teams this season. This fact is kind of remarkable because a big part of Derrick Rose's MVP push has been the narrative about how he has led the team to overcome injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. "Rose carries Bulls in spite of injuries" has been one of the major themes in Rose's MVP chances.  While not all injuries are created equal, the Bulls' player losses  probably aren't anywhere near as significant as the Celtics or Trail Blazers' losses. Just some more food for thought as the MVP race draws to a close.