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NBA injuries study: FiveThirtyEight explains how Orlando Magic might have fared if completely healthy

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If no teams suffered any injuries in the 2013/14 NBA campaign, where would Orlando have finished? Thanks to a FiveThirtyEight simulation, we can find out.

Nik Vučević
Nik Vučević
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Writing for FiveThirtyEight, certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts endeavored to envision an alternate reality in which no NBA players suffered any injuries in the 2013/14 season. With an assist from Advanced Statistical Plus/Minus, he simulated an injury-free season and compared those results to what took place here in reality.

Broadly, Stotts finds that the season would have gone just about the same: the Phoenix Suns would have edged the Memphis Grizzlies out of the Western Conference's final playoff seed, but otherwise the bracket would have remained intact.

As for how this injury-free utopia might have affected the Orlando Magic, the answer is a resounding "not much." In Stotts' simulation, the Magic finish with a .268 winning percentage, which figure translates to one fewer win than the 23 victories they posted in real life. "The Magic aren't notable in either reality," he says.

In 2013/14, Orlando mostly remained healthy, with two notable exceptions: starting center Nik Vučević missed 25 games with a variety of ailments, including a concussion and a sore left Achilles'. Backup forward Tobias Harris missed 21 of the team's first 22 games due to a sprained ankle he sustained in the preseason, but played every game thereafter.

In addition, Arron Afflalo (nine games) and Jameer Nelson (14) also missed time due to injuries. They ranked first and second, respectively, on the Magic in average minutes per game.

Still, the Magic's overall talent level is such that having everyone available for all 82 games--in which case everyone would have received a Golden Hammer--wouldn't affect their record much in either direction. The rest of the league is too strong when fully healthy.

Stotts' NBA injury database is available at InStreetClothes.com.

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