How Will the Injury News About Marc Gasol, Jimmy Butler, and Tyreke Evans Affect Their Respective Teams?

We ran our projections to see how the Grizzlies, Bulls, and Pelicans will do going forward without their stars.

There has been a lot of devastating injury news to come out in the last 24 hours in the NBA.

Marc Gasol is out indefinitely with a broken right foot that has the potential to sideline him for the rest of the season, Jimmy Butler has a strained left knee that will keep him out for the next three to four weeks, and Tyreke Evans is likely done for the year as he's set to undergo what will be his third knee surgery since May.

The Pelicans are in the midst of what will essentially be a lost season with only a 1.6% chance of making the playoffs, according to our algorithm, but the Grizzlies and Bulls are both in the mix as likely playoff teams that aren't that far removed from being yearly title hopefuls.

The loss of a team's star player can be deflating for a fan base, but we're here to offer a bit of hope. Here's how our algorithms project each of the aforementioned teams' alternate timelines (the reality of the injury news versus an alternate dimension in which said player had stayed fully healthy for the rest of the season).

Memphis Grizzlies

TeamProj. W-LPlayoff %Champs %
Grizzlies, pre-Gasol injury45.0 - 37.098.3%0.12%
Grizzlies, no Gasol rest of season44.0 - 38.095.9%0.06%

You might be surprised to see the Grizzlies only lose a game in their projection without Gasol, but the truth is that it's been a bit of a down year for the two-time All-Star. In more minutes per game, Gasol has averaged fewer points (16.6), rebounds (7.0), and blocks (1.3) than last season (17.4, 7.8, 1.6), while shooting a career-worst 46.4% from the field.

As a result of the dip in efficiency and production, his Win Shares Per 48 Minutes rate of .107 represents his lowest mark ever and registers far below his career average of .156. His nERD -- our in-house metric that estimates how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would finish an 82-game season with the player in question as one of its starters -- is a mere 0.5 on the year, which ranks him way down at 72nd on the season in our Player Power Rankings.

Perhaps Gasol's absence will serendipitously force the Grizzlies to join the rest of the NBA in going small and the drop-off won't be too significant. At 30-22 and fifth in the Western Conference, we're still giving them a 95.9% chance of making the playoffs.

Chicago Bulls

TeamProj. W-LPlayoff %Champs %
Bulls, pre-Butler injury42.5 - 39.568.3%0.28%
Bulls, no Butler for next 4 weeks41.5 - 40.556.6%0.20%

The Chicago Bulls, losers of 8 of their last 11, were already free falling before the news of Butler's injury came out, so his absence is salt in the wound. Butler, named to his second All-Star team this year, is having the best season of his career. He's averaging 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game, while shooting 45.8% from the field, 33.1% from long range, and 82.7% from the line.

His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 21.9 is the best he's ever registered, and his 11.1 nERD currently ranks him 10th in the league in our Player Power Rankings and third of any player in the Eastern Conference.

At 27-24, the Bulls are currently the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Competition in the East is tighter than it's been in a long time, so the Bulls have a tenuous hold on their current playoff position; they're only 2.5 games behind the Boston Celtics for the 3 seed, but they're also only 1.5 games ahead of the 9 seed Charlotte Hornets and being out of a playoff spot entirely.

Thankfully, with the All-Star Break, a full four-week absence for Jimmy Buckets would only equate to 11 games, and our projections say the Bulls are only likely to lose one extra game on the season as a result of being without their starting shooting guard for that period. Of course, with the close-knit race in the conference, that means a notable dip in their playoff odds from 68.3% to 56.6%.

New Orleans Pelicans

TeamProj. W-LPlayoff %Champs %
Pelicans, pre-Evans injury33.2 - 48.81.6%0.00%
Pelicans, no Evans rest of season33.2 - 48.81.6%0.00%

The New Orleans Pelicans have come nowhere close to meeting expectations this season after making the playoffs last year. At 19-32, they are currently 6.5 games out of a playoff spot, and we only give them a 1.6% chance of making a return to the postseason this time around.

While the loss of Evans for the year would seem like a nail in the coffin, our projections don't change at all with the announcement of his surgery and the chance that he'll miss the rest of this season. His raw numbers of 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.3 blocks per game seem like a big loss on the surface, but his 43.3% shooting mark from the field, 17.1% Turnover Percentage, and elevated 108 Defensive Rating make his advanced stats look fairly pedestrian. His .094 rate of Win Shares Per 48 Minutes is nothing to write home about and his -0.5 nERD only places him 81st on our Player Power Rankings and is only the 8th-best rating on the lowly Pelicans.

Even in the 25 games that New Orleans had Tyreke in the lineup this season, they only managed a record of 11-15. That .440 Win-Loss Percentage would still only place them 10th in the conference, so it's not like having Evans would've guaranteed them a playoff spot anyway.