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‘Chipping’ away at NBA’s

Nov 4, 2003 3:17 AM

Daily injury lists contain vital information for wagering games in any sport. It is particularly key in the NBA, with games played on a daily basis for what often seems the entire year.

Some players appear to a have reserved seat on this list. Out of frustration we call these tough, but unlucky, athletes "potato chips." We don’t mean the term as a putdown, but a description of how brittle their bodies are toward injury.

Our top 10 list focuses on impact players, who affect betting lines when they are out of the lineup. Some selections are obvious, but you may be surprised at a few on our M.A.S.H. unit that have caused their respective NBA teams to often fall short of expectations both daily and for the season.

Wiseguys are on top of the injury situation but, to the casual bettor looking for an edge, keep an eye on these players for they are likely to find themselves on the pine more than normal.

1. Marcus Camby (Nuggets): F-C. Missed 106 games over the past two seasons and has not played more than 63 of a full 82-game regular season in his career. Camby pulled down 20 rebounds in Denver’s opening game upset win over NBA champion San Antonio. In the 2000-01 season, finished third in the league in field goal percentage (.524) while with the NY Knicks. Ranked 11th that season in blocked shots (2.16 per game).

2. Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Cavaliers): C. First-team All-Rookie in 1997-98 season, shooting nearly 52 percent from the field. Missed 133 games over the next two seasons for Cleveland. LeBron James will get all the hype, but how far the Cavaliers progress depends on the durability of the 7-3, 260-pound Lithuanian. The Z man can dominate in the East, where quality centers are nearly extinct.

3. Grant Hill (Magic): F. First billed as the next Michael Jordan, a nagging ankle injury has everyone doubting he can ever be the old Grant Hill. This is the third time Hill is in rehab over this injury, but he won’t retire. The Magic spent millions acquiring the former Duke superstar from the Detroit Pistons to team with Tracy McGrady for the best 1-2 punch in the East. The Magic can win the East with Hill. Without him, it’s very doubtful.

4. Lamar Odom (Heat): F. The fourth overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1999 NBA Draft. At 6-foot-10, Odom is capable of playing all five positions on the court. In his first game for the Clips, Odom scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Seattle. Traded to Miami after playing in just 78 games over the past two seasons.

5. Penny Hardaway (Suns): G-F Missed just five games in his first three seasons for the Orlando Magic. Made four straight All Star appearances from 1995-98. Missed all but four games with Phoenix in 2000-01 campaign after being dealt the previous year from Orlando. Played in just 58 games last year. Averages 16.9 pts per game over his career, but has not surpassed that figure over the last six years.

6. Jamal Mashburn (Hornets): F Led New Orleans in scoring last year (21.6), but is out indefinitely with loose particles in his knee that will require arthroscopic surgery. Has managed to play a full season only once in a productive, but injury-marred career that began in Dallas before moving on to the Miami Heat and Charlotte, the previous home for the Hornets.

7. Vince Carter (Raptors): G-F had a brilliant 39-point effort in his opening game this year for Toronto against the two-time Eastern Conference champion Nets. "Vinsanity" was around for just 43 games last year after once compiling a streak of 145 consecutive games for the Raptors from 1998-2000. A four-time All-Star, who was tagged the next Michael Jordan since both played college ball at North Carolina.

8. Antonio McDyess (Knicks): F Came over to the Knicks last year from Denver in the Camby deal but has yet to play a regular season game. McDyess has been practicing on his own and is on a timetable to make his NBA return sometime next month. Missed 32 games in Denver during the 1998-99 season, but had been a durable and standout player prior to his deal to the Big Apple.

9. Shaquille O’Neal (Lakers): C Shaq missed just three games over his first three seasons (1992-95) with the Orlando Magic. It’s been in the past couple of years for the Lakers that O’Neal has been hampered by nagging injuries, notably to his ankle and big toe. Weight has also been a concern, but the three-time NBA Finals MVP did start the season for the Los Angeles.

10. Vin Baker (Celtics): Trying to recapture his early success now as a member of the Celtics. The four-time All-Star selection last made the elite squad in 1998 and was on the 1993 All-Rookie team with Hardaway and Chris Webber, an honorable mention to the "Chips." Missed just four games in his first five seasons. Has not exceeding his career scoring average (16.0) over the last three seasons.