Which NBA stars have been sidelined so far during the 2021-22 NBA season, and how are their teams dealing with the players' long-term injuries?
While the first half of the season was largely defined by player absences due to the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, there have been some big names to miss significant time with injuries, including the Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (knee), the Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul (thumb), the Chicago Bulls' Lonzo Ball (knee) the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard (abdomen) and the Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal (wrist).
But which injuries could sideline stars for the remainder of the regular season and into the postseason?
Throughout the 2021-22 season, we're breaking down what lies ahead for injured stars and their short-handed teams, including the impact on the playoff and play-in races, draft lottery odds, trade season and free agency.
March 28: Celtics' Robert Williams III out several weeks with torn meniscus
Although Williams is only sixth on the Boston Celtics in scoring at 10.0 points per game, behind the departed Dennis Schroder as well as reserve Derrick White, that doesn't measure his key role in Boston's success.
Williams is a linchpin of Boston's league-leading defense. The Celtics are allowing an NBA-low 105.9 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA Advanced Stats, and have been far better relative to everyone else as the season has gone on. Since the start of the new year, Boston's 104.3 defensive rating is 4.5 points per 100 possessions lower than the second-place team (the Dallas Mavericks at 108.8).
In part, the Celtics' defense evolved when first-year head coach Ime Udoka made the unconventional choice to have Williams defend most opponents' power forwards with Al Horford typically cross-matching on centers. That took Williams out of the point of attack on most pick-and-rolls, freeing him to offer help in the paint.
The strategy has worked for a couple of reasons.
MORE: How Boston replaces Williams' rim protection